A New Study Explores What Runners Think About

Researchers found that runners think about three main things while training.


Imagine if you could record your entire inner monologue during a run. It might sound a lot like the thoughts of these runners who were recorded for a new study.

10 runners (6 men, 4 women) were given recording equipment and asked to speak their thoughts aloud while running 7 miles or longer. All runners were training for a half marathon or longer. The age of the participants ranged from 29-52 and they all had anywhere from three to 30 years of running experience.

The results, while not surprising, might give runners some assurance that we all tend to think about the same things. Forty percent of the runners’ thoughts were about pace and distance of their run. 28% of thoughts were about their running environment, such as weather, terrain, wildlife and other people.

Finally 32% of thoughts were focused on the discomfort of running—something we all can relate to. These included declarations of pain, thinking about injuries, and trying to motivate through tough parts of the run. These negative thoughts were more prevalent at the beginning of runs, with participants becoming more optimistic as they continued.

For next steps, the scientists behind the study want to take look at the correlation between runners’ thoughts and GPS data to see how performance is affected. For now, take comfort in knowing that you aren’t the only runner out there thinking “This sucks.