Running to think

June 15, 2023


For a few years now, I’ve been partaking in the age-old ritual of running. I began my journey like many others, swathed in quality athletic wear and armed with a meticulous training schedule.

However, as time marched on, I stripped down my running routine to its core. I run now in a primal sense, devoid of music, absent of phones, and lacking a preset route or plan. Instead, I run freely, with only my thoughts for company.

My initial motivation to run was anchored in fitness and achieving a toned physique. But as I ran more, I discovered that the true benefit of running was its capacity to clear my mind and give me space to think. It became my sanctuary of thought. I quickly realized that my most innovative ideas materialized during these running sessions. To further embrace this aspect, I shifted my running routine to nature, a decision made easy by my fortunate proximity to a forest.

I keep my runs uncomplicated by only focusing on a single metric - my heart rate. I disregard distance, speed, and time, instead tuning into a pace that feels natural and good.

My heart rate becomes my guide as I aim to keep it in the aerobic zone, or zone 2. This pace enables me to run for extended periods without fatigue and creates an environment conducive to thinking. Should my heart rate rise above this zone, I shift gears to brisk walking until it falls back within the desired range before I recommence my run. This approach, simple as it is, incrementally increases endurance over time.

Another essential tool in my running routine is my watch, which doubles as my ideation notepad. Whenever a thought bubbles to the surface, I record it, thanks to my Apple Watch’s “Voice Memos” app. But I’m certain there are other equally capable apps available for different watch brands.

Back home, I play back these recordings, transcribing ideas I wish to retain. This process also provides me an opportunity to reflect and evaluate the merit of these ideas.

To summarize, my running routine hinges on:

  • Running freely, sans music, phone, or plan.
  • Immersing myself in nature.
  • Maintaining my heart rate within the aerobic zone.
  • Recording any emergent thoughts.
  • Reflecting on these thoughts once home.

That’s my running routine in a nutshell. It’s uncomplicated, minimalistic, and meticulously designed to nurture thinking.