Long Run Thoughts

By Noel Paine

Long runs are a time to be alone with your thoughts, yourself, your doubts, dreams and the sound of your heartbeat and feet on the road or trail.

I have been running for so long it is just part of my lifestyle and something that has almost always been there for me. Once I slip on the running shoes I move into the familiar run mode; where after a few minutes I go into introspective thought and think about the run, training, my day or whatever is on my mind. Sometimes the run is a way to go through thoughts or issues of the day and other times it’s a way to escape and pure stress relief where I focus on just enjoying the run.

I have always said life is like running and vice-versa with ups and downs, ebbs and flows. There are hard and easy days and this also applies to my mind on the run. My thoughts are never the same, but they are always calmer, more ordered or my stress-level is always better after a run to deal with them.

One of the toughest mental runs for me was a solo 100-kilometre 40th birthday run along a long trail that runs into Ottawa. My marriage was disintegrating, I was struggling to adapt to life as a new dad, in a job I did not enjoy and in a bad state mentally. My run that day was a physical and spiritual journey that allowed me to look at myself, my life and where I was headed. The run did not heal me but helped me survive to another day, helped me focus and think clearer and be more in touch with myself.

Running for me is not a mental health pill but a way to help find balance and healthy thought.