What Real People Think About When They Run

"This is the worst. This is still the worst. Why am I still running? When will this be over?"

When elite runners were tasked with thinking aloud during an eight-mile run, 32 percent of them thought about how painful running was. "Hill, you're a bitch," was one runner's spoken thought, according to a study published in the International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology in June.

Another 40 percent thought about their time and pacing ("Hips forward, my stride a little bit wider than normal; a nice heel toe."), and 28 percent thought about their environment ("These trees are so cool in the wind.").

But as someone who is more focused on fitness than splits -- let's call me a member of the not-so-elite running community -- I take a different tactic. Rather than focusing on the next hill, distracting myself from the task at hand seems to make running a tiny bit less painful.

As it turns out, I'm not alone. Some self-identified amateur runners think about what they're having for dinner or plan fantasy vacations. Others pick out mini targets in the distance, and still others count out loud until the workout is, thankfully, over.

Here's what some not-so-elite real runners we know think about when they run. Sound familiar?

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