Running column: What do you think about when you’re running, asks Mark Armstrong?
- Credit: Archant
The shopping, what you're going to eat later, what you're doing at the weekend - what do you think about when out running?
What do you think about when you're running?
There's no right or wrong answer – it comes down to what works best for you.
Personally, I don't think about anything – my mind goes completely blank, particularly on training runs.
I'm just in the moment, running, not thinking about anything but the road out in front of me – it's lovely.
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I realised it's a state I used to attain when I played football as a youngster before I decided to hang up the boots because of my old knees, ironically.
I used to be so focused on the match I was involved in that everything else faded away.
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It also meant that everything else I was worrying about (exams, getting into nightclubs, having ginger hair…) got put to one side.
The same thing happens when I go out for a run. I let it completely absorb me and all the worries that I took into the run are put on pause.
MORE: Don't stray too far from the racing line...Mark Armstrong's Snetterton race reviewBy the end of the run, fuelled by endorphins, you feel a lot better about things and able to deal with whatever anxieties you're carrying around in your every day life.
I don't know many runners who have finished a run saying 'I wish I hadn't done that'…unless you picked up an injury along the way.
Looking back it's that sense of mindfulness that attracted me to running in the first place.
The sadness I felt at losing my mum back in 2015 was put to the back of my mind when out running. Anyone that has gone through this will tell you that you never truly come to terms with it, you just learn to live with it…and running has helped with that.
Emptying your mind is also very helpful when it comes to your training and races.
A few people asked me if I was bored by the course at the Snetterton 10K a few weeks ago.
The truth is I don't really mind where I run – it's almost irrelevant – as long as it's safe, the environment doesn't really bother me. I ran about 10 loops around a housing estate in Long Stratton in the week.
There are obviously times when it's important to look around and appreciate where I am, the Royal Parks Half Marathon last year being one example, but I'll never be one of those people that stops and takes a photo during a run. Luckily, I've got a wife that does that for me!
I know there are plenty of runners that are the complete opposite to me. They will use a run to work through a problem they've got, plan their week, or remember to pick up some dog food on the way home.
MORE: Neil Featherby explains why age is just a numberBut it doesn't work for me – it's the escapism that I'm looking for and I'm a lot better to be around in my general every day life (well, I like to think so anyway).
There are occasions where I'm fully tuned in to where I am. If I didn't wave to my daughter when she's supporting me in a race she would later chastise me for being rude…she's probably got a point. But bearing in mind how competitive she is, I think she will one day understand why I take it all so seriously…
The other time is when I'm really struggling – it's only natural to ask yourself why exactly you're putting yourself through this suffering sometimes.
I did exactly this during my long run at the weekend. It was one degree outside and my hands felt like frozen ice blocks during the whole run. I need to get some thicker, warmer gloves…or a treadmill.
But after I had thawed out I was glad that I had got it done. It's just that perhaps next time I'll wear a warmer pair of gloves so I can achieve a sense of calm rather than be thinking how ridiculously cold my hands are.