When I go on a run, I usually return a calmer person, then finding myself mentally in a space of more quiet, where it is easier to think clearly and deeply.
Often, interesting thinking happens during the run as well.
A run can be a solitary activity, even intentional alone time. Simple, most everything hard about it clearly self-imposed.
Even if you are running in a group or with a partner, the experience of the run is a personal one. The feel of your steps, the wind or the sun on your face — others running next to you can relate, but the experience is still yours. The emotions or thoughts that come up are yours, too, heavily influenced by who you are and the steps you took up until this run.
Those thoughts can be surprising, they can be fleeting, from one to the next, or they might be insistent throughout your run.
Like many people, who run regularly, I have found value in logging my runs. This has taken different forms over the years, from pen and paper to electronic notes to now more or less automatic tracking using Strava. The log entries tend to capture the obvious data points. It is interesting over time.
I try to also capture one thing about those runs that is perhaps a little less obvious: My thinking and the ideas that emerged during the run. Much like the memory of a dream fades soon after waking, those thoughts encountered while running, can disappear, soon after returning home.
I experience some of my most useful thinking at a time, when I am not really trying to do so at all: when I am out, running. Sometimes this means progress on problems that had been vexing me, other times sights, smells or events out and about may trigger exploring of new, creative ideas. This seems to happen fairly naturally. You can gently guide this, but trying to force the process is probably missing an important point.
Unsurprisingly, I am not alone in this discovery. Numerous other people solve problems or think creatively during their runs.
- The Neuroscience of Why Running Clears the Mind
- Exercise might be more than good for your brain — it could make you more creative as well
- Does Running Actually Help Creativity?
- How running can make you more creative
None of this should be taken as a claim that this would work for you. Lots of people simply do not like running, nor would want to make it part of their life. As they say, your mileage may vary.
The larger point here is about having an activity that allows you to stimulate your mind to let interesting thinking or creative ideas emerge in a relaxed manner. I find value in that and running is one experience that does that for me.
How do you get there?