Where my mind goes when I’m running

The other day I was chatting with my neighbour when she said “hope you had a nice run on Saturday”. I drew a complete blank. What was my run on Saturday? Was it a race? No. Then how did she know I’d been running? I couldn’t recall a thing about my run. It turns out she had seen me and we had smiled and waved at each other. Whew! But this was scary as I have zero conscious recollection of having done that. I think my mind often leaves my body when I’m running and all I can do is hope that I’m acting like a normal human being. When people say they saw me running I often just have to hope it wasn’t while I was doing something strange or anti-social, like blowing an air-hanky or adjusting my running bra. This got me to wondering where my mind actually does go when I’m running, as it obviously is not in the conscious present. Here are some examples of some thoughts I recall having had while running, which may give some insight as to where my mind goes:

“I wonder if we should get a dog?”
“Holy cow, five minutes at race pace feels hard – how will I keep that up for a 10K race??”
“I love running in the fall.”
“I hope the park washrooms are still open!”
“I like this song. I think I’ll just play it on repeat until I hate it.”
“Wow, I’m already three miles into my run – only four to go.”
“I can’t believe how insensitive XXX was yesterday!” And then by the end of the run: “Poor XXX must have been having a hard day yesterday.” (Funny how running changes your perspective on things)
“Aaaagghhh!! Oh, it’s just a Halloween decoration.” (I really did nearly jump out of my skin the other day when my mind suddenly processed a dead-body type thing hanging from a fence)
“There really are a ton of raccoons in this city.”

Other than the odd fleeting thought though, I really can’t recall much. And strangely, even though my mind is apparently blank, I’m never bored. I’m glad I seem to automatically smile and wave to people who wave to me. But please don’t take it personally if I don’t – just assume I’m working through serious math problems or coming up with new ideas which will change the world. Who knows, maybe deep in my sub-conscious this is actually what my brain is hard at work doing while I run. I’ll go with that theory.

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