Determined athlete running and thinkingThe other day my ipod shuffle wasn’t working so I did my run in “silence”.  The good news is that it didn’t affect my motivation or speed or anything.  The bad news is that I figured out I’m a pretty weird guy…

You see, without my audio, my brain simply started thinking (I hear that’s what brain’s do when left to themselves).


oh my God…

I’m insane.

I kept thinking the same things over and over.  Literally. It wasn’t a “worry thought” either – just a random thought about how my office is set up.  So I kept repeating the same phrases over and over.  “What if I moved my desk to the south side…. What if I moved my desk to the south side and repositioned my monitor… what if I repositioned my monitor… what if I moved my desk to the south side…”

I’m not exaggerating. This is what my brain did.  For miles and miles.

Now, I managed to force myself to switch to a new idea (which I also repeated incessantly like a woodpecker too dumb to know it was pecking a metal mailbox).

But around mile 4, that same freggin’ office thought came back and I couldn’t shake it for a mile.

Enough Of My Psychosis, What About YOUR Psychosis?

Now, you don’t read WorldFitnessNetwork to hear what a psycho I am.  But I’m guessing you are now curious about what kind of a “thinker” YOU are.

Here are few thinker types for you to consider.

Most of us will span a few of these, either alternating from day to day or even flitting from one persona to another in the same run.

To see which you are, make sure you are unplugging from your mp3 player – you can’t truly think with external input in your ears.

  1. The repeater – whatever thought pops into your head, you repeat it over and over; just when you think you’ve moved onto a new thought, you realize you are back to repeating the previous thought; this is me most of the time.
  2. The randomizer – you are like ADHD on cocaine.
  3. The workaholic – you go over your work.
  4. The planner – you think through your day ahead of time.
  5. The reflector – you reflect on how your day went (or about yesterday if you are a morning runner).
  6. The basketcase – you think about all the problems in your life and end up more stressed after your run than when you started.
  7. The perfectionist - you work over a particular issue ad infinitum and then rework it.  And rework it again.  And again.
  8. The freak – you might be one of these people who get all freaked out with the endorphins that come with running and start having odd visions and bizarre thoughts.  I won’t list examples here.  You know who you are.  And stay away from my road.
  9. The gamer – you count the cars that pass; or see how many drivers you can get to wave at you; or you search for all the walnut trees along your route.
  10. The milestoner – to make it through, you keep resetting distance markers:  “Just one more telephone pole”.  “Make it to the next mailbox.” Etc. until you finish your run.
  11. The elite master – you think about your form; your pace; how your legs feel; how your stride is; how the hair on your arms is affecting your wind friction (ok maybe not that).
Which one are you?  Or do you have another type I should add?
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21 Responses to “What Do You Think About When You Run? – 11 Thinking Types”

  1. Haha, excellent idea for a post!

    I’m pretty sure I’m split between the gamer and basketcase… Yeah, yeah that’s me.

  2. Jason Villarreal
    May 21st, 2009 at 11:44 am

    I don’t think you’re psycho. I do the same thing when I run without music. Of course, it may mean that I’m crazy like you and everyone else is normal.

    When I run, I start talking smack to myself to motivate when I get to a tough stretch. Things like, “They don’t think you can do it.” or “I knew you weren’t tough enough for this.”

    Sometimes I find myself mouthing a response.

    Sounds crazy, but it works for me.

    Keep up the good posts.


  3. Yeah…. nice post! :)

    I confess, I’m a lil workaholic, basketcase, freak, and milestoner all in one! Maybe I should put on some music instead. LOLs Out for a run!

    – k

  4. I’m possibly the worst combination. The repeater and the milestoner. Basically i repeat my milestone. EVERYTIME =/

  5. On public roads I’m an elite master milestoner. I try to maintain perfect form and never drop pace because I don’t want to look at me like my run is kicking my butt. But at the same time I’m picking different points on the road and wondering why it’s taking me so long to get there. And I do this WITH music.

  6. Glad you all are having fun with this one!

    I wonder if I should do the same thing with “what you think about while lifting”…?

    (sorry so short – I’m traveling [again!])

  7. Thinking is some of the hardest work anyone ever does. That is why it is so very hard to do much of it when expending so much other energy running, lifting, swimming, whatever. This is also why music is so much easier to listen to when running (or even walking) than, say, a lecture about forensics.

    I don’t have any really good places to run where I live, so I get my aerobics on a cross trainer. But, I experience most of the very same thought patterns you listed. Possibly with a few more!

    This was a great post. Keep ‘em coming.

  8. tewodros demssie
    May 22nd, 2009 at 2:09 am

    When i her that 11 Thinking Types I was very new for this sound but i find out after some time you are geniuse. Thanks for you let me now.

  9. Somewhere between Zen (empty your mind and don’t attach to whatever pops up) and “all of the above”. Allthough I usually singalong in my head to whatever music is playing and sometimes when things get really tough I count strides and breaths (or just plain stat hating the guy who’s running in front of me (embrace the dark side :-)

    I find that I have a hard time thnking straight though.. calculating lap-times, projected end-times, average speeds, stuff like that is impossible for me (hence the cheat-sheet written on my arm when I really want to break a PR :-)

  10. LOL – yeah am the repeater/basketcase. Reminder to why i don’t work out in silence… ;P

    Good post!

  11. is there a catergory for stressing stressing stressing while you run about your run? does anyone else freak themselves out in a repeating manner? for example, ‘that girl just passed me im gonna lose’ (repeat) ‘i usually beat her whats my problem’ (repeat) ‘why did i do this wretched sport im gonna quit’ (repeat) something tells me this isnt good for me lol but i cant stop! its like im addicted to beating myself up!

  12. Next sunday I will run a race… so that’s a clear #10 for me. I’ll even write the interval times down so I can check if I’m still on schedule for my record end-time. The rest of the time I will focus stride, gait, posture, breathing, and on ignoring the pain :) … ok, so maybe I’ll be a #11

  13. @wazzup – very cool and I wish you luck – you CAN think like a #11!

  14. i fantasize about stuff. i would probably put it under “randomizer”. i find myself thinking about the future, what i had to eat, what i am going to eat after i run. I sometimes even think of random math and physics problems in my head because i am a math major in college. I am weird

  15. I really enjoyed reading this. I think at times I can be a mix of all of those different thinker types! I bet all of us are. It really just depends on the day. I’m glad I found this article though, makes me feel normal haha

  16. Oh my, it just got worse… I read about rhythm and downloaded music at 90 bpm so I can run at 180 steps per minute… now I’m counting my steps…. that’s gonna be a looooong half marathon : (that and the transition to a more forefoot strike style of running)

  17. I am totally the elite runner. I actually worry about how my hair flying in the air is going to affect my form. I think this might tie in a little with being a freak. This was a very interesting article though. Now I have more to think about. :)

  18. I am a milestoner and a repeater except i repeat songs. It’s usually the same line of a song over an over. Not even good songs most of the time. Once during a race it was the Bob the Builder theme song which I haven’t even heard in years

  19. @Michele – ha!

  20. Where’s #12. The Survivor. You continually search for ways to abstain from calling 911 during your run, and are convinced that death is imminent. (Maybe it’s just me, beginning runner.)


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