February 16, 2013

What do people think about while they're running?

I went to the gym again today, for the third time this week.  I haven’t really engaged in any kind of exercise since before my wedding…which was more than seven months ago now.  I am not much of an exercise person, really.  I love dancing, and walking to get somewhere, but the hampster-wheel stuff I can usually take or leave.  (I think, in fact, I've documented somewhere on this blog the one and only time I've had a true endorphin rush from running.  Once!  Clearly I'm not doing it right.)  I think regular walking is much better for you than sporadic, intense running anyway.  But for now I have to take what I can get.

I don’t scrutinize anyone too closely at the gym…mostly because I’m too busy trying to stay alive while running or stair climbing, but also because I’m hoping nobody is noticing me either.  Every once in a while, though, you see somebody who is working out really intensely… the guy or girl who has been on the elliptical machine for over forty-five minutes and who is going faster than anybody else in the whole row of exercise machines, including the people on treadmills.  There was a girl there like that today, with skinny arms and legs that looked like nothing but bone and muscle.  Of course, there are all sorts of body types, and I would never assume somebody has an eating disorder....because how else do skinny, super-fit people get to be that way besides vigorous exercise?   Every so often you see somebody, though, and you wonder.  Or I wonder…probably a side-effect of having worked on this book for years.  

Yesterday, I started comparing everyone’s demeanour as my mind wandered.  Mine: dreamy, resigned.  The girl next to me: annoyed.  The guys in the free weights area: a mix of swaggering, hopeful, joking, determined.

What do you think about when you're at the gym?  

I usually like to imagine I'm in some kind of movie montage where the heroine is suddenly getting fit and turning her life around.  It's a good time to cycle through goals and do some visualizing.  I did this a lot when I was trying to finish putting together the manuscript of Mother Superior before I started querying publishers.  I thought about what was still left to write.  I pictured the pages piling up.  I pictured somebody saying yes.  I pictured holding it as a book.  I imagined it getting reviewed in the Globe and Mail.  

Maybe everyone else is planning their novel, too?  Or their screenplay, their dissertation?  An impending breakup?  I wonder.  


Rebecca Rosenblum said...

I prefer *not* to think at the gym--otherwise I tend to dwell on things that make me angry. Not sure why--the forward push, maybe. I try to listen to music and zone out otherwise, plus a magazine when doing cardio (I have even mastered reading on the treadmill, which is challenging) and maybe even television. As many stimuli as possible! It's my one chunk of the day to not think--I love it!

saleema said...

Reading on the treadmill is the weirdest experience! I always get this strange, vertiginous sensation that the treadmill has actually slowed down (when it hasn't) and I start fiddling with the pace. I'm impressed you can do it!

I know what you mean about getting angry...but a little edge is sometimes almost the only thing that GETS me to the gym. And then I work it out. Zoning out might be the ultimate goal, though...

m said...

I ran again today for the first time since the end of January. I'm not much of a runner, being relatively new to it and my distances are rather short, but today was the first time I had a thought about thinking while running. And then my next thought was that I wasn't working hard enough if I was thinking about thinking.

Running is the one time I feel like my brain shuts off and I am simply in my body. I need more of it.

I do wish I could read while running though. That would be amazing!

saleema said...

Me too! Except that I tend to be precious about my books and I would be scared of getting them sweaty...magazines, maybe..?

The thing that really amazes me are those people who talk and run at the same time!?! This is why I can't go running with my husband.

Pat Webster said...

I watch CNN. Nothing kills thinking like CNN.