What do we all think about while we're running? - Couch to 5K

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What do we all think about while we're running?

CaroleC profile image

I haven't blogged since my long run last Sunday although I've been to the school fitness suite twice and ran on Wed and again tonight. I had a good run on Wed 5.5 miles at approx 6.4mph, not such a good run tonight 4.5 miles 6.1mph (calves were hurting and didn't improve even once I'd warmed up - I guess I've worked them a bit hard this week) but thankfully ankles and knees are holding out. I may have to do other forms of cardio for a week just to let the old legs rest up a bit...

Anyway, that's not what I wanted to write about.

Where do you go when you're running? I don't mean physically? I mean mentally. For those who are reading this who may not have graduated yet, you may just be thinking about Laura's voice, the music, your breathing, your pacing, how sore your legs feel, how good you feel about having nearly finished this run, or how you wish this run was over, but for those of us who may have got past the initial stages and are running regularly, what do you think about?

Tell me...


37 Replies

I think about all sorts of things. I'm only up to week 6 so quite an amount is thinking "will my legs actually keep going" and "how long until I stop" but other things float through my mind like "What will be happening in my life in 5 years time" and the more mundane like "Did I put that load of washing on or just think I did".

This morning I was also thinking "Why are there so many teenagers walking to get their school bus just as I am running past?" but hopefully they weren't awake enough to notice me!

CaroleC profile image

Ah idris - I also think about the teens that I run past every evening - they sit about in droves on local council estate walls - luckily if they are saying anything derogatory, I can't hear them cos I've got my symphonic metal music blasting my eardrums out or my interval 1,2,3,4 counts going on in my head!


Gazter profile image
GazterGraduate in reply to CaroleC

that 1234 gets me through a lot as well


JohnCassidy profile image

CaroleC, I go the opposite way and try to think of nothing!

I see running as my switch off time that's just for 'me'

I do listen to various music mixes, but sometimes I get home and couldn't tell you what was playing...I view that as a success!

Keep On Running, and Enjoy.

Hezzabelle profile image

Away from running and a mundane job I'm a bit of an artsy-fartsy type.

I've been really appreciating running through the beautiful autumn weather. I find it really inspiring and spend my runs distracting myself by planning paintings or working out compositions in my head.

I really want to paint a scene from my running route soon. I just need to get on with it. (Typical procrastinator)

But yeah, if I can distract myself enough I really lose track of time and zone out of the physical niggles, until Lauras voice brings me back to myself.

DeliaItaly profile image

Likewise to Hezzabella I too enjoy the beauty of the countryside, the colours, the wildlife! I just love running round hares and rabbits and ducks and geese...I don't know whether Iactually think much at all! I listen to the silly words of the dreadful music and giggle a bit...sometimes I even jog and dance if there's a decent rhythm. But no, as a person with a thinking job, I run and switch off all the switches and just relax and run :-)

tweekala74 profile image

I was intrigued by your post as initially I struggled to think about anything 'useful'. My internal dialogue was a jumble of all the things you mentioned, 'can I do this, am I bored, how can I be bored I'm in beautiful countryside, yes but you're mainly looking at the ground so you don't trip, slug, leap over it don't squish it, look at the lovely trees, dead pheasant, don't look at it, don't look at it, ahhh looked at it, yuk!' and so on.

It irritated me as I had notions of using the time to either get into a meditative mind clearing state or to think about lovely creative ideas but there was just this stream of consciousness chattering away. Now I've graduated and I'm just listening to my own music, a little more order has returned to my running thoughts and I find it easier to stay focused on my chosen topic or zone out and clear my mind. Maybe that's part of stopping the interval training and setting a pace for 30 mins.

How about you Carol C, what do you think about?

oona profile image
oonaGraduate in reply to tweekala74

Smiled at this, tweekala! 'Stream of consciousness chattering away' is so me! Hoping my thoughts will be more ordered now I've graduated!

CaroleC profile image
CaroleCGraduate in reply to tweekala74

tweekala 74,

I think it depends on the run. when I first started running I USED to think about just getting around, about finishing each run, graduating each programme...the C25K, the B210K, the ten mile BUPA programme, getting to half marathon length...each run built on the last and it was all about getting better and faster. So I'd get into the plan of the run, zone out and just GO.

Mostly now am FEELING rather than thinking. Don't get me wrong, there will have been thinking initially, because I have planned the run; it's either a pace run, an interval or hill run, or a long run. So I have a plan to stick to - it may not always work, depending on how I am FEELING when I get into it; I may not have planned my food/liquid intake properly beforehand so I'm not fuelled up, or I've been training too hard and my legs are feeling sore so it all goes a little pear shaped, such as yesterday's run when my calves were hurting too much to really go for it.

Recently, it is quite often all about focusing on my step count and also, focusing on my running "form". I have been doing fast intervals once a week or so with Audiofuel so I am concentrating on the beat, or if I am on my long run, every few minutes I try to get my head up, relax my shoulders, concentrate on not "slapping" my feet down, but not bouncing too much which wastes energy and focus on how hard my lungs are working, or am I hurting anywhere to which I should be paying attention. If I get a "hurt" I try to determine whether I should be pulling up and walking home, or is it something that I can run off. Mostly I get that wrong.

Oh, and someone else mentions writing their blogs in their head as they go round, I've done that on long runs, or mentally written haiku, and try to remember what I've thought of for writing it up later.

Reading this back - it seems that I'm not having a good time on my runs; that I'm not running for the sheer fun of it; and I guess a lot of running for me is about keeping fit, doing better; improving my times; keeping my weight down; but I also know that if I DON'T run - I am one miserable so-and-so so one part of me must really enjoy it!!


tweekala74 profile image
tweekala74Graduate in reply to CaroleC

Wow! Sounds like you've taken this running lark to the next level (+++!) I'm not sure running will ever be 'fun' for me but I just hold on to the fact that I ALWAYS feel better for having done it (I've not had an injury so I might think differently were that to occur!) and it still baffles me how running gives me more energy rather than less! Enjoy :-)

B1ddy profile image

I think about the end of the run!

Then the usual work, dogs, what needs doing round the house, what I can eat for my next meal. I try to avoid thinking about funny things cos that just makes the run harder!

christian1 profile image

I try to not think about the running but don't succeed, so my thoughts are usually along these lines, "Oh I'm out of breath, better breathe into my stomach - in 123 out 123 in 123 out 123 - thats a bit better but breathing into my stomach makes me need the loo, no don't think about needing the loo, the trees are turning all autumn colours how lovely, look a squirrel, oh bother there's someone with a dog, will they keep it under control (usually they do) keep an eye on it, oh good it has gone off after its ball, now where was I, oh bother forgot to breathe again, in 123 out 123 in123 out 123........."

I don't think I've got into the zone yet. :)

When I was doing the podcasts I always thought about what I was going to write in my blog! Since doing longer runs, playing my own music, I tend to transport myself back to a time or place when I first played the music and remember someone or something or my life as it was then. I can actually go into quite a trance.

AliB1 profile image
AliB1Graduate in reply to TJFlute

I have composed blogs in my head too...and as the run goes they change depending on how the run goes

Harvey1989 profile image

I graduated at the end of may this year and this is the first time I've been back on, the shame! still going strong run 30km over 3 runs this week, I think about how I've improved myself in so many ways, physical appearance for example, and the fact i quit smoking recently after 8 years, I could never of done it without c25k, when i'm having a hard run I just think of how every time i go out i'm improving myself in so many ways

Deryn61 profile image
Deryn61Graduate in reply to Harvey1989

Fantastic post, well done on giving up the fags as well!

BlueSkies9 profile image

I usually go running at 6 in the morning so my brain doesn't wake up for half the run...requiring less need to think about anything...and when I do it's normally related to avoiding hit by cars, avoiding puddles, tree roots, branches, potholes, rabbit holes and people I am convinced are hiding in bushes waiting to jump out and attack me. If I run in daylight my thoughts are fairly pre-occupied with wondering exactly how jiggly my backside is and if my running tights are a bit see-through...followed by thoughts of being arrested for some sort of public decency offence. All of this against a back-drop of 'ow ow ow can't breathe'!

I over think, I think.

Deryn61 profile image
Deryn61Graduate in reply to BlueSkies9

This made me larf out loud!

bonnie68 profile image

Interesting responses to this! I have found it hard to even remember what I think about! So, with effort ! , here goes... Last nights run was " dodge the dog poo, oh, isn't it a lovely evening! new ministry of sound running music, don't like this song, where am I going?, round the park...no ,don't fancy that hill. Sod, now jogging on the spot at traffic lights, hate cars, hate cars, lazy... smelly, be nice now ! and go FAST to that lamp post, oops farted did that person coming towards me hear that? ... up THIS lane now, ooh nice red trees, packet of crisps waiting at home, maybe a glass of wine later... Garmen check, down below 6 km average must speed up....avoid the dog, head up and proud past this scary group of smokers outside pub, nice clouds !, why do cats stare at you when you run past as if you are mad? push on ,can I get a 28 minute at 5k ...yes! stop and cool down walk, lovely. " :)

Deryn61 profile image
Deryn61Graduate in reply to bonnie68

Fantastic. Cats stare at you as if you're mad . . . BECAUSE YOU'RE MAD LOL! Imaigine a cat putting itself out of its comfort zone and looking anything other than blase lol!

lol...I"m usually thinking..."ow, ow, ow, ow! I'm thirsty! Ow, ow, ow, ow! When is this agony going to be done? Look out for the zombies hiding in the cracks of the sidewalk! They reach up and grab your toe and trip you! O, look, a squirrel! Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow (getting further into the run)! $hit, that car almost ran over me! Don't people pay any attention to pedestrians (and I DO mean pedestrian)? Ooow! O, look at the cute doggie! Ow, ow, ow, ow....wonder if that repair shop will let me use the loo? Ow, ow, ow, ow...are we there yet? HOW much further do I have to go?!?! Ow, ow, ow, ow....who's brilliant idea was it to start running, anyway??!! O, yeh...wonder if Carole has run yet today...?"

CaroleC profile image
CaroleCGraduate in reply to Grammadog1947

Oh grammadog, would that be me who thought it would be a good idea for you to get your old running kit on again? Don't you feel better for it???

(Runs off to hide)


smhall profile image
smhallGraduate in reply to Grammadog1947

EXACTLY!!!!!!! Have you been running alongside me in my head???

Deryn61 profile image
Deryn61Graduate in reply to Grammadog1947

Every new post I read on this thread has made me chuckle louder!

OldNed profile image

I try, consciously and deliberately, NOT to think of anything. I try to empty my mind because I find I can keep on running longer, smoother and easier that way. Doesn't always work but when it does I guess it's like being "in the zone". I have been there a few times, but not often enough. When it works it's like flying; I feel I can run forever.

Grammadog1947 profile image
Grammadog1947Graduate in reply to OldNed

Yes...those are always fab...but there is still too much time between them for me yet...lol...but every once in a while....

Beads profile image

"Mary, it's Mary, why can't you see that"

And I almost shouted it today as i set off to nowhere on the treadmill. I'm listening to my audiobook and have decided that Mary was the one who killed Sylvie. And now the main character has all the information and he STILL can't see it!

What do I think about when I'm running outside? I don't know, I've not really run outside without Laura talking to me, urging me on so it's probably 'I will go on, I must go on, I will go on, I must go on'. In fact the only time I've run outside without Laura was the short post grad trot last Sunday where I was more reveling in the nice weather and the feeling that I didn't have to go round a second time than thinking about anything.

smhall profile image

Hmmmm, mostly I try to remember the number to emergency services in case my breathing doesn't improve. Or sometimes I wonder if the pretty flashing lights on top of the ambulance will turn before they get to me or if someone called them FOR me!!

On a few occassions I get to run behind my lovely wife, gdeann. Then I just check out her butt!! :-)

Deryn61 profile image
Deryn61Graduate in reply to smhall

A very huge LIKE!

Vivwestie profile image

Mainly I think about finishing!

Deryn61 profile image

Its been so long since an official "run" I can't remember! (1st horse riding lesson after a 3 week break wreaking havoc on inner thighs and thwarting my plan to do a 7m run this weekend :-(

I mostly think of how lucky I am to be able to run, have daydreams of one day running a half marathon to tumultuous public acclaim, interspersed with remembering to squint ahead through the drizzle on the look out for sneaky sheep FLAUNTING their aromatic sheepiness to tempt my inncocent (?) Bedlington Terror "Boy" to chase them.

mcc65 profile image

Well I've just finished W8R2 and as you said, I'm still mostly concentrating on keeping going and keeping breathing, but on the rare moments when I'm trundling along quite happily I try to focus on why I'm doing this.

Obviously I want to get fitter, but as when I started running I looked like the Michelin Man in a tracksuit (although as I said on another post earlier I now look as though I have low profile tyres rather than tractor ones) and as my hubby and I are going on holiday to the Med next year (and I would definitely like to avoid being harpooned by a passing whaling ship) I try to think about the new slimline me lying on a beach in a nice cossie and all the lovely new clothes I will need to buy :o)

CaroleC profile image
CaroleCGraduate in reply to mcc65

Great reply mcc65, hoping you get those low profile tyres do to invisible ones! I'm going to be in a swimming cossie outside for the first time in about a dozen years when we go away for Christmas and New Year this year - hoping the extra fitness sessions and the continued running make it a good idea rather than a bad one!


BlueSkies9 profile image

Oh...and I also spend a lot of time trying to identify which band/artist/song the C25K music is a cheap-jack imitation of...like the 'N-Dubz a-like' song, and the Fratellis-like song...and wondering what the hell it was Julie has done to be so annoying hahaha (week 8 and 9). Those podcasts are so entertaining. Not sure running to my own music is going to be quite so funny.

Chocotwit profile image

Lol blue skies I get your comment about Julie! I have been wondering the same thing...

Gazter profile image

Am I the only one who begs for it all to be over? I cant think clearly, i wish i could switch off. It all requires my mental and physical effort to stop myself from stopping.

There's no grace, there's no zone, it's all 'oh my god my body is going to explode', i even (slight blush) today while achieving my best ever time of 30mins 15 seconds, I was on the very of losing all control over my bodily functions.

CaroleC profile image

Oh Gazter you poor soul! How long since you graduated? Have faith in yourself that one day you will find that zone! What a great time today - see, you are improving!


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