What Do Runners Think About? A Lot of the Time, They Think About How Much Pain They’re in, New Study Shows



If you were looking for proof that long-distance runners are masochists, here it is: A new study, published in the International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, found that when runners aren’t thinking about their pace and distance during a run (which they do — a lot), they’re thinking about how much pain and discomfort they’re in and, occasionally, they think about their surroundings, the Atlantic reports.

How did the study work its way into the brains of runners, you ask? Well, researchers put microphones with recorders on 10 runners who were training for marathons or half marathons. Then, they asked them to think out loud during runs, all upward of seven miles. They got 18 hours of recording, then they got to analyzing.

What they found was that the majority of runners’ time was spent thinking about three things: pace and distance, which they thought about 40 percent of the time; how much pain they were in and how uncomfortable they felt, which took up a good amount of mental space at 32 percent of the time; and their environment, which they thought about the least — and oftentimes those thoughts were angry, expletive-scattered, traffic-related thoughts— at 28 percent of the time.

See what I mean about the whole masochist thing?

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