Running Away From Your Mind

Brooks, the running shoe company, thinks you have inspired thoughts when you run and has launched a contest to collect and reward the best ideas “that have the potential to change society for the better.” Brooks will help promote those ideas through its social channels and will hand out $200,000 in rewards for the best ideas.

While the ideas can encompass any subject, Brooks hopes they will inspire “people to be active and get out into their neighborhoods, building community around running, and giving back to the planet through sustainability initiatives.” Zzzzzzzzzz.

I used to run. A lot. I was a competitive triathlete, and even snuck in a run of the New York Marathon one year. Most weeks I would run between eight and 12 miles three times. I had plenty of time to think about “sustainability initiatives” -- but, remarkably, can’t think of even one that surfaced out on the backroads of Connecticut.

Brooks would like you to believe that running somehow stimulates the best and brightest ideas -- when, in fact, it doesn’t.  Here are some things runners think about:



“Hmmmmm, the dog who usually runs like hell up to the fence -- and barks until I am well past his house -- isn’t outside today. I wonder if he’s inside asleep, or if his caretakers are on the road….Or maybe someone broke in and murdered everybody and he’s in there eating the bodies…Or maybe he realizes that I am not going to stop running just because he’s barking and realizes what a useless bit of theater he is.”

“I KNEW I should have put a Band-Aid on that place on the side of my foot that's raw. I thought maybe it was my tennis shoes, but I can feel now that it's my running shoes (my Brooks). Shit, I have another seven miles to go. This is going to hurt like hell.”

“If I could get someone from the highway department out here for a run with me, I could show them where every single pothole is around most of town. Are they saving them for the next Trump administration?”

“What month is this? That big tree on the corner is so beautiful when it blooms, I hope it lasts longer than two weeks."

“Oh shit, here comes a housewife in a Suburban on her phone. Need to find a tree to protect me....”

“Man, I'm not sure I have enough on for when the wind picks up. Hopefully the sun stays out…”

“Look at all the cars in that driveway. Funeral? Wedding rehearsal? Book club meeting? Pre-gaming Klan rally?”

So, as you can see, running is in fact not the time for me to come up with world-changing ideas. Not that my mind doesn’t wander all over hell’s half acre and back, but in 10 or so miles, you see a lot of the same yards (and dogs), cars and pavement, all of which stimulate memories from previous runs that you have to check off as you go by.

“Hmmm, still painting that garage... it has been a couple of months.”

 “About 20 feet off the entrance to that bridge there has been a beer bottle cap on the road for over two years.  I expect to see it again today…”

Those doesn’t sound particularly stimulating -- until you realize that when you're thinking about how full that low spot that perpetually fills with water will be today, you are NOT thinking about the pandemic, white supremacists, the impeachment, China, Qanon, the economy, Black Lives Matter -- or if the car really needs an oil change.

When I played college football, we had an all-American running back who was quoted in the yearbook thusly: ”When I carry the ball, my mind just goes along for the ride.”

Sorry, Brooks, when I go for a run, I think of anything and everything, except saving the planet. It’s my time, my effort, my thoughts. Shallow though they may be.

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