Here’s where my love of literature comes into play. If you have ever had the pleasure of reading anything written by Virginia Woolf or Jeanette Winterson, then you know what stream of conscious looks like on paper. Both ladies processed what they were writing as they wrote, letting thoughts flow freely from their head through their arms and onto paper.
This same thing is what happens when you’re running on the road. Notsomuch trails because you have to concentrate on where your feet are going so as to dodge roots, trees, bricks, stones, holes, etc. While you’re running any distance, though more so the greater distance than shorter, your mind opens almost as if someone lifted the lid off a steamer. A mile or two into the run, you settle into your pace, you cadence is set and you often zone out. That is the point in which your mind starts floating and your body roams on autopilot. Sure, you’re taking in the visual stimuli around you like the dog walking by, the people smoking on the corner, the cars zooming past or the guy who rides by on his bike and yells, “Y’all should get a bike!” But it’s almost as if you are experiencing these things on an ethereal sense.
Example: on one variation of my usual route, I run behind a Rite Aid and often there are big Mack trucks parked there. If any of you remember Maximum Overdrive, then you’ll understand this next bit. “OMG, there are huge trucks like Maximum Overdrive I wonder if they’re going to try to run me over if I go between them or maybe they’ll open their door and someone will snatch me into the cab lets just hurry up and get on the other side of the trucks hey I wonder if Friend knows about Maximum Overdrive and has watched it as many times as I have I need to remember to ask him and…oh look, I’m passed them now to get over this gate and get to the road…” and it will keep going, skipping around to all sorts of subjects and topics.
Some days, like yoga, I set a specific intention for the run but most are like the above. Running helps clear the mind so it is open to new possibilities and information. After the run, maybe I’ll remember what I was thinking about and maybe I won’t.
I do remember the funny things that stand out, like the guy who rode by and yelled at us to get a bike. Or the deer I saw in someone’s front yard. But mostly, my runs epitomize free thought and word association.