I was talking to an acquaintance recently and discovered we’d both been thinking about things runners think about while running. I was sure the National Institute of Running Sciences has studied this, so I called my friend, Taul N. Leene, who heads the Office of Running Psychology at the Institute. He said most thoughts runners have can be categorized as follows:
- Personal issues and tasks that have to get done.
- Evaluating running performance and workouts.
- Self-imagery of winning races and being cheered.
- Sliding down a mayonnaise-covered hillside into a big puddle of chocolate pudding.
- Job issues, office politics, and work relationships.
- Random, tangential thoughts sparked by scenes or objects while running.
- Partying with aliens and cracking them up with R2D2 impressions.
After Taul read the last item he snorted and did a poor job of trying to stifle his giggling. I said nothing and waited. Taul’s a really nice guy, but because he’s a top-notch research scientist, he’s somewhat nerdy. When his muffled laughing went on for long enough, I finally said, “Taul, are you sure these are really things runners think about?”
“No!” Taul shouted, bursting into laughter. “Two of them are fake!” He laughed for a long time.
I thanked Taul for his time and for sharing his research. I asked him to stop fooling me because I might have used the two fake ones in my blog.
“You’re so easy to fool. You need to work on being less gullible, Jim.” Taul was still laughing when he hung up.