Open Your Mind- Run!
By: Matt Anderson, Fleet Feet Sports Madison
Why do I run?
The reasons range from health benefits and fitness goals to upcoming events and just getting some quality time outside, but my favorite reason for running is that it gives me time to clear my head and have “deep thoughts” – Jack Handy style.
I’m sure most of you have experienced this. Maybe it is that runner’s high I always hear about, but for me running helps clear my mind of the daily clutter of to-do lists and deadlines and get into a more creative state. I have come up with some of my best ideas while running.
Back in High School (Go Appleton West Terrors!) my sophomore English teacher had the class do a daily stream-of-consciousness writing exercise, and I enjoyed it enough that I did it all through high-school. If you have never done this, it is basically an exercise where you write down whatever comes to mind – regardless of punctuation, sentence structure, or even grammar. Writers sometimes use it to get into the mind of their characters or to develop ideas. I liked it because it allowed me to get into my own mind and even get stuff out of and off my mind. It is always interesting to read through your seemingly random thoughts and see how you go from a thought like, ”I need to get milk after work tonight” to how I should be more patient with my kids.
So what does this have to do with running? Well, I’ve often made the connection between the stream-of-consciousness writing exercise and what happens when I’m running by myself. Call it the runners-stream-of-consciousness. I sometimes get back from a run and quickly write down a great idea I had before I forget, or before all that clutter re-enters my mind.
I’ve always wanted to share my running stream-of-consciousness. Not that I’ve discovered anything profound but I’m curious to hear if anyone else has had eureka moments while running. My guess is that some truly great ideas have been hatched while running.
So here is a taste from a recent run, with some editing of course – sort of hard to write it all down while running!
February 22, 2014: 5-mile run from Harbor Athletic Club after dropping my daughter off at Kid’s Club.
Shoot I forgot my hat! Back to the locker to retrieve. Man, will it ever get above 20 even? I guess it’s better than huddling around a fire in 1776 (I just finished the John Adams Biography). That was a good book, took me forever to finish though. Ok let’s do this…come on GPS…, forget it, I’m going. Man my knee is stiff. Crap I have a lot to do after this workout, orders, revisions, review the newsletter…there’s the GPS!
At this point I’m already in my own world. If it’s a music day, I’m thinking about the songs a bit: some take me back to high school, college, or even get me thinking about the city the band is from – I think about Seattle a lot (I’m a Grunge man.)
Watch vibrates, 1 mile in, check split, typically slow on a cold winter day…wow, my knee doesn’t hurt anymore, must be warming up. Honk, Honk – did he just flip me off? Oh, that’s Ivens and he was waving, man I’m defensive when I run. I wish it was summer and I could run the loop through Pheasant Branch and get away from traffic, I remember when Jessica and I tried to trailblaze the far side of that trail, must have been 2006 before it was complete…what a disaster; not one of my better ideas. Shoot, I keep forgetting to put on the website that the half mile-markers are finally up. Man that project took forever, frustrating. Reminds me of my old City Planner job, glad I’ve moved on. 9 years already,been married 10…wow. I need an anniversary gift…Mexico something,first date something, the black boaand Mongolian BBQ? Gotta do better than that…La Crosse, gotta get the guys together for golf this summer, maybe Oktoberfest, Maple Leaf ½ marathon? I suppose I could go and not run…
All this within the first two miles. There are definitely long stretches of nothing on the mind, which I think I enjoy even more. My mind seems to open up the farther I go, and I start getting some truly unique and uninhibited thoughts and ideas. I’m not sharing the one I had on this day though, as it revolves around that anniversary gift!