SCIENCE

What Do Runners Think About? Here's The Sad Truth

It turns out that long-distance runners mostly think about how miserable running is, according to new research.
Most runners think about their pace and distance; pain and discomfort; and their running environment, study shows.
Most runners think about their pace and distance; pain and discomfort; and their running environment, study shows.

What on earth do runners think about while pounding the pavement mile after mile after mile? Mostly, they think about how miserable they are. At least that's what a new, first-of-its-kind study of elite runners seems to show.

For the study, 10 long-distance runners used audio recorders so they could speak aloud their thoughts while completing an eight-mile run. Then researchers analyzed the recordings -- more than 18 hours in all -- and found that about 40 percent of the runners' thoughts pertained to distance and pacing, and about 28 percent had to do with the immediate environment.

But about 32 percent of the thoughts were more along these lines:

(via Giphy)

 

Why exactly are scientists so interested in runners' thoughts?

Dr. Ashley Samson, an associate professor of kinesiology at California State University in Northridge who led the new research, told The Huffington Post in an email that the data may help pinpoint the kinds of thoughts that might lead to better performances.

"This is one of the only studies to utilize a method to collect data that gathers it 'as it happens' and does not rely on the runners' memories," Samson said in the email. "For future studies, we are planning to overlay the transcripts with GPS data from the participants' runs so that we can start to connect specific thoughts with drops or increases in performance."

And so, the race isn't over yet!

The new research was published online in the International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology on July 25, 2015.

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