Put yourself in a position to get asked many of the same type of question and you better come up with a variety of different answers, lest you become ornery (learn how to pronounce that here) and not fun to talk to. In addition, repeatedly hearing the same question and its follow-ups allows you to surmise the reasons behind it. If you are any good at piecing this together, you can answer all those questions at once and make the person asking you the question think about their reasons for doing so in the first place.
This seems to be a pretty heady way to approach being asked a simple question. Believe me, I am not that heady. My point is being in front of people means people are going to ask you tons of questions. Like, who are you and why should I care? I enjoy hearing the questions, often hoping to hear one which presents a new wrinkle. More often than not, however, I know what is coming. That said, sometimes I surprise myself with my answers.
"What do you think about when you are running?" is one of the top questions I get when people learn how far I run. I have come up with many answers, all true, but one day it hit me to turn it around.
"What do you think about when you aren't running?"
This often gives people a little bit of pause. I know they are trying to think that one's mind must always be engaged or distracted in order to get through many miles of running. But there is also this air that comes with the question that unless I am thinking of something while I am running, I am wasting valuable time.
The things is, very few, if any, of our thoughts each day are groundbreaking. Most of them are rather subconscious reactions to the stimulus around us. We barely even think for the most part. It is not as if those that aren't running are finding the cure for cancer when they are watching Dancing With the Stars.
You see, when I am running, I am often thinking about many things. Often I think about next to nothing. This does not mean my mind is idle. It means I am concentrating on what I am doing. I am listening to my body. I am paying attention to aches and pains. I am learning more about my form moving through space and how unbelievably different one can feel from one day to the next on the exact same route.
I am not saying I am some great thinker. But I do get many of the ideas for articles I want to write or things I want to do when I am out on a run. I can catalog the day, put things into order, and make decisions for later. Or I can simply get clarity.
And sometimes I don't think a damn thing other than "It feels so good to be able to be out here doing this."