When people find out how much time I spend running and that I enjoy running alone, their first question is usually, don’t you get bored? I understand why people ask this question, especially, when we live in a world that wants and can provide instant gratification for so many things. People are seekers of constant entertainment from outside sources. In that type of world it is hard to understand how, you can be in the woods for 6-7 hours by yourself on a consistent basis.
Sure, the first time is fun and the second is not too bad, but by the time the third one rolls around what is there left to think about? My answer everything and nothing. I don’t know what other solo runners think about when they are out on the trail, but my guess is their heads are full of things similar to my own.
My first objective when I get out there is to let go of the stressors of everyday life. Depending on what is going on, this can take awhile. I may have to think through some issues I’m having, or come up with options in a difficult circumstance. Or just process other people’s behavior toward me or those I care about. Other days, I can step on the trail and it all just melts away.
Once I’ve cleaned up the landscape of my mind, the real fun begins. For a time, it is very quiet inside my head as I roll my foot over the dirt and breathe in the fresh air. Random ideas can spring to my mind and I explore them to find out where they will lead me. It can be as simple as finding names for the various shades of green along the trail (last weekend). This one entertained me for more time than you would think as I associated the shade with naturally green objects/places in the world.
Other times my mind becomes pensive and philosophical. I see the world in a way I’ve never seen it before. If you think about that for a second, you haven’t ever seen the world the same because not only is the world different from moment to moment, but so are you. Think about how many times your opinion about a topic has changed because you have matured or gained additional information.
Maybe you were completely sure your life was headed in a particular direction and you had it all planned out, but then the wind blows and uncovers a new possibility. That possibility can significantly alter your course. When this happens, I think of all the new doors and windows that have opened and where each might lead. I think about how each of those would change the stream of my life and how I feel about it.
I challenge my thinking on different beliefs I have and try to come up with as many other perspectives as I can. I think about how the world would be different if one small thing were absent from it. I wonder how discoveries were made and what caused the initial question to start the ball rolling.
I wonder about how things will be in the future and what policies and discoveries could be made along with the changes those would cause. I consider how my life and thoughts would be different if particular things had or had not occurred.
Sometimes I build a world different from this one, including characters, creatures, and every other facet of life. I create lives and stories for them.
There are so many things to think about when you are running. Sometimes there is nothing and that is just as wonderful as all the thinking.