What do runners think about when running?

Edwin Wu

While people generally assume runners think about winning or pacing while exercising, I investigated what actually goes on the minds of runners. 

According to an article by Outside, nearly 40% of runners think about pacing and distance when they are running while 28% of runners think about the things that are going on around them. Although this is some evidence about what runners think, it is still difficult to measure their thoughts.

An anonymous cross country runner who started running when she entered high school claims that started to run because she wanted to try something new, and it was an opportunity for her to interact with her friends. 

Her time as a runner has improved her overall time management skills because she has to put aside roughly two hours each day to run and on top of that complete all her school work in a timely manner. Additionally, she enjoys the aspect of being able to spend time with friends and the races, as well as give her a chance to relax. She also enjoys cheering for her teammates when they race. 

When asked about her thoughts during running, she generally thinks about how her day went and school. She even rehearses songs in her head too, especially during races to make the experience more enjoyable.   

“I think running is a big part of who I am because it makes up a lot of time outside of school, and I really enjoy it,” said the anonymous runner. 

Junior Venkata Devapatla says he started running when he was in 2nd grade through soccer. From his time as a soccer player, he learned his ability to run fast. “I slowly started to improve my speed and then I found out that there is a sport where you just do 100m or 200m. Since then I just started running,” said Devapatla. 

Devapatla shares that he is motivated to run because of the competition in running. He enjoys the aspect of “beating” someone whether that is a race or simply succeeding his running goal. “I’m motivated to run because I want to continue getting faster and my teammates and coach cheer me on,” said the anonymous runner. 

“I do not always succeed in [my running goals], but that is what makes it fun,” he shared. 

Devapatla also enjoys the fall weather especially with the breeze. He likes listening to music when running because it allows him to take his mind off of stress. He shares that often when he is running he doesn’t worry about anything unless it’s a race.

Devapatla states that he doesn’t really think about anything while running. He shares that he has a “clean mind” when running except for some internal dialogue between his brain and his movement. For example, he ““tells [him]self ‘if you want to slow down then you got to run this next 1/2 a mile really fast or under this much of time’, or to ‘pick up my legs, look forward’/.”

Devapatla concludes that running is a significant part of his character. He explains that he runs because he enjoys it not because he is forced to.

“I can’t live without it,” he emphasized.  

Ultimately, there is not one or perfect answer to what goes on in people’s heads, but from Devapatla and the anonymous runner, it is apparent that their thoughts vary based on the surrounding environments.


For more breaking news and photos, follow The Wingspan on Instagram and Twitter @CHSWingspan