What I think about when I’m running

View from the Marine Lake

West Kirby beach

“I’m often asked what I think about as I run. Usually the people who ask this have never run long distances themselves.

“I always ponder the question. What exactly do I think about when I’m running? I don’t have a clue.” Haruki Murakami.

I suppose in a way I don’t have a clue either. I don’t have a clue, because I see my running time as a way to empty my mind, to clear my head of all the busy thoughts I have and let go.

Where once I saw running as a way to get fit and lose a bit of weight, I now see it as a way to claw back a bit of breathing space and thinking time that I so desperately need.

I am loathe to write another post about running because I don’t want to be seen as one of those people who harps on about how fit they are. Far from it – I am a pretty average size 10-12 woman, I wouldn’t say I am naturally sporty, but with running I’ve found something that’s quick, free, and empowering.

The thing is, making time to go out twice a week has improved my mood dramatically. You only have to look at the inspirational blog One Fit Widow to see how exercise is a fantastic head-clearer after loss.

Marine Lake

Aside from helping organise my thoughts, it’s helped chill me out by releasing a lot of pent up energy. I’ve always been a do-er, someone who isn’t entirely comfortable spending a day lounging around; I’d rather be on the go, running errands, seeing friends, writing, working, just moving. Too much time sitting still makes me tetchy, I need some fresh air to keep me sane.

Over the past three years I’ve built up a hell of a lot of time sitting. Sitting, waiting and feeling tense. Sitting by my husband’s bedside in hospital, in intensive care, in waiting rooms, and on the wards. Then at the hospice, where it was much more of a pleasant place to sit – we had a patio door which opened onto a garden – but it was a lot of sitting all the same. Don’t get me wrong – I wouldn’t change that for the world, I see it as a privilege to have been able to be there with Roger to keep him company, offer him love and support and vice-versa. I needed him just as much as he needed me.

And where I still need him, I have a bit of a gap which getting out for a run helps to fill. There are other things, but this is the one that’s currently working, and if it means I can get away with eating that extra piece of cake here and there, well that’s a massive bonus too!

So there we have it – I started to write about what I think about when I run, and I guess I kind of have done right there.

Apart from this inward thinking, I also think about the everyday stuff like what I’m doing for the rest of the day, my kids, what we’ll eat for dinner, all the normal stuff that fills everyone’s brains every day. I used to hate listening to music when I ran, but now I wouldn’t go out without switching on 6 Music on my on my phone first. I’ve taken to screen grabbing songs which keep me going and now have a camera roll full of really good tunes!

I think about things I’ve been through, often going over the same scenes again and again, but somehow feel more connected to Roger as he used to love running.

I think about my grief, my guilt, and whether my thoughts are normal and how they can be healed. I think about my speed, how far I’ve run, and try to push myself to keep going when I feel like giving up.

I’m lucky in that I live on the coast and there are lots of pretty flat and breathtakingly beautiful spots for a jog. When I took these photos the other week I did a 10k run taking in a park, a woodland trail, the seafront and a lap of our local marine lake. I took a few shots as I ran, despite running into the wind it was too pretty not to.

What do you think about when you run?

I’m running the Great Birmingham 10k as part of a team of colleagues from the BBC who all worked with Roger, to raise money for Wirral St John’s Hospice. You can sponsor us here.

X Julia

View from the Marine Lake

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  • Reply
    Mackenzie Glanville
    February 23, 2016 at 7:58 am

    It is so good to get out and move, I am not a runner but I love to walk especially in pretty places and discover new tracks. I usually spend it reflecting on life and try and be mindful and notice birds, trees etc.
    Mackenzie Glanville recently posted…Be prepared to . . . .My Profile

  • Reply
    Mini Travellers/Mini Ventures
    February 23, 2016 at 8:05 am

    It’s good to take the time to reflect and that run time is yours and yours alone to have those moments. Run Forest Run! xxx
    Mini Travellers/Mini Ventures recently posted…My Captured Moment – TiggerMy Profile

  • Reply
    Natalie Streets | DiaryofUEM
    February 23, 2016 at 3:50 pm

    I’d love to have a chance to just get out there and lose myself in running, but I’m not particularly great at running, especially outdoors in the cold, brr. I’m weak really and full of excuses. It’s great that you have something that brings you closer to Roger though, I imagine it would be a great comfort sometimes. x
    Natalie Streets | DiaryofUEM recently posted…Friday Phone DumpMy Profile

  • Reply
    Amy Ransom
    February 24, 2016 at 1:40 pm

    I love running. I never listen to music but like to just be in my thoughts. I often unintentionally draft whole blog posts in my head when I run. I love that Haruki Marakami book too and often think of him when I’m going to bed too late and thinking I should be embracing earlier mornings. Glad you have a good coping outlet x
    Amy Ransom recently posted…50 reasons being a parent ROCKSMy Profile

  • Reply
    Tanya Leary
    February 24, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    LOVE RUNNING. and love that is is proving a tonic for you too.
    I think about lots of things and nothing at all. I think how lucky we are to live somewhere so beautiful, the girls, work, starting vloging…everything and nothing. Would love to go with you some time. X
    Tanya Leary recently posted…Get set for Geronimo 2016!!!My Profile

  • Reply
    Hayley (@hayleyfromhome)
    February 26, 2016 at 2:35 pm

    It’s nice you have something that gives you that time and peace to clear your head, you do also have the most beautiful views when you are running! I keep saying I’m going to give it a go but it isn’t quite as pretty near me and I have always been a terrible runner but I am tempted for the hour of peace. Love that you are doing something that Roger loved too and it is helping you, Yoga is great too Julia I think for organising thoughts and restoring a bit of calm xxx
    Hayley (@hayleyfromhome) recently posted…Pizza in the City – Crust LiverpoolMy Profile

  • Reply
    February 28, 2016 at 5:34 pm

    I’ve always found running to be restorative – and it’s what I turn to when I want to make changes in my life, to move forward. This is such a beautiful post – you had me hooked with the Murakami quote. recently posted…Exploring Kentish history at Deal CastleMy Profile

  • Reply
    Nancy Runabees
    March 21, 2016 at 8:27 am


    Thank you for bringing up the topic. While I use most of my running time just to clean my head, I also focus on my weekly tasks. I think about what needs to be done, make sure I don’t miss anything and I try to prioritize. I also make sure I write everything down when I get home.
    Sometimes when I need to plug away from my work, I listen to music and make the conscious effort not to think about anything else apart from the trail, birds, and nature.

  • Reply
    One week countdown to the our team 10k - Rainbeaubelle
    April 23, 2016 at 5:43 am

    […] about What I Think About When I’m Running and one of my posts about the hospice if you […]

  • Reply
    November 16, 2016 at 2:01 pm

    Thanks for bringing this up Rainbeaubelle. The funny thing is that I run to not think. It sounds impossible, but I actually run and listen to something, a playlist or a podcast. This way I keep focused on running and what I’m listening to, and I totally free my mind from any other topic related to work, family, you get the point.

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