For many years “Coach” and I have been good friends and we both had our ups and downs… weight-wise. Throughout our journey there was one thing which never changed: Our support for each other and the motivation that came with it. At some point over these years I started calling him ‘Coach’ because he always did, what a coach is supposed to do. He motivated me and he inspired me and I knew he meant what he said because he was there too. He actually had bigger ups and bigger downs weight-wise than I. He always knew what he was talking about.
We now want to share our experience with you and hope that you will find some kind of inspiration and maybe even share your thoughts, struggles or successes with us here. – Momma & Coach
Many people report clearness of thoughts and clearness of mind while running. Effects described as worries figuratively being left by the wayside while the runner moves forward and achieves this state of calmness devoid of stress and day-to-day pressures.
Recently someone told me that he regularly achieved that ‘emptiness of mind’, that zen-like state but as he continued to run and increase the distances he ran, his mind started to fill that emptiness again after a certain period of blissful zen-running. He said that no matter how load the music blared in his headphones, his mind kept the upper hand and filled the emptiness with new thoughts and while sometimes they were inspiring they often turned to day-to-day type chores that either needed to be taken care of or had been taken care of and that his mind actively destroyed the calm.
After some trial and error he resorted to listening to audiobooks, in a conscious effort to be the master of what his empty mind would be filled with. According to him, he caught up on some books he wouldn’t have read or listened to otherwise and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
I mentioned last time that I’d been running regularly since last June and recently completed my first marathon distance run. I expected the physical discomfort what was far more challenging, however, was the mental challenge. I’d noticed a similar effect as I mentioned above, as the distances of my runs began to become longer and longer, the thoughts started to become louder and louder in my mind. I’d gone through a phase of simply fighting the inner little fat guy in my mind telling me to stop running and go back home, sit down and relax. I managed to mostly keep him in check and the distances I ran became longer. As I became fitter, I reached that state of blissful stillness of mind, where I just ran and took in what was happening around me without anything else.
But just as I started to go beyond the ½-marathon distance, a new voice started to speak up, there was this organizer-type character suddenly in my mind. This voice started to tell me what I should be doing other than running, started to mentally draft emails I needed to send out, it mentally created a to-do-list etc. etc. eventually the organizer became so omnipresent that he zapped any enjoyment I felt running. I was listening to that voice and accepting the deadlines and objectives the organizer set for me and became more and more stressed.
In a deliberate effort to regain pleasure while running I went for my first trail run and because I had to focus not to stumble over rocks or roll down sides of hills, the organizer shut up. Interestingly the organizer wasn’t around when I did my longer road runs either. I alternated the road and trail runs and somehow managed to leave the organizer behind on both.
Guess what, though? Guess who made his appearance during long road runs again? An almost forgotten running companion: the little fat guy. Here he was telling me that it was too hot to run so far or that it would be better for me to cut at least the next run short and that I’d already come so far; that I should be happy with what I had achieved and should go home and have some chocolate cake to celebrate… and so on and so forth. You get the picture.
Just to make things more messed up and to make you wonder even more about my sanity (it’s alright if you do, I often wonder myself), little fat guy brought company along: like the little angel and the little devil sitting on either shoulder in old-school kids’ cartoons, little fat guy brought his opposite along for the ride. He brought an over-motivated coach with him; with a baseball cap and a whistle and everything. This guy was something else, he seemed so happy to finally be called back into action after all these years of laziness and neglect that he was not going to give the little fat guy any more space than he absolutely had to.
These guys still hang around and often perk up when I go for road runs; not all of them at once, mind you, I still have some sanity left, even when I’m running. Rather than fight them or let a single voice take control, however, most of the time I let them pipe up, I know sooner or later their opposite will chime in and that keeps them busy, entertained, balanced out and I keep running.
As crazy as my description my have seemed to you, many longtime runners have described going through similar experiences to me. Next time you see a runner spare a thought at what’s going on in their mind as they run past.
Your mind while running: