i wonder…

When people first find out that I’m a runner, they ask the usual questions such as:

  • How many miles do you run per day?  Well, anywhere from 4-20-ish, depending on the day…
  • How many marathons have you run?  Eight.  (and counting…)
  • How long have you been running?  Since I was 12….sooo….15 years now!  (That’s crazy…)
  • Do you actually like to run?  Why yes, yes I do.

Once people find out that I run for hours at a time (yay long runs!), they sometimes ask what music I listen to…and when I tell them I don’t listen to music (…ever.  At least while running), they ask what I think about.

Well, let’s just open a can of worms (I actually hate that saying, it makes me queasy just thinking about it), why don’t we?  Strangely enough, my mind can be a bit of a black hole during long runs, and five miles will fly by without me knowing it.  While those are the best runs, I actually do a lot of my thinking while on the run.  Lam actually did a post just like this earlier this year. 

Sometimes I have conversations in my head while I run…about anything, with anyone.  Other times, I wonder…

…if a 3:10 marathon was too lofty of a goal for this year.

…if I’ll ever run sub-3.

…if I’ll ever think I look like a runner.  Or if other people think I look like one.

…why people ever run on a treadmill when they can run outside.

…if I should have gone to medical school and become a doctor.

…if I’ll ever feel confident as a nurse.  Or if I’ll ever think I’m a good nurse.

…if I should abandon ship on the medical/nursing field entirely.

…what I want to be when I grow up.

…if we’ll ever fix our health care system.

…if smoking will ever become illegal.

…if anyone actually meets other people while running.

…why people dress their dogs up in little clothes.

…if people would complain less if they spent a day observing life in the ICU.

…if people think I complain too much.

…what it would be like to work a Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm (6pm?  7pm?) job.

…how I managed to play the trombone for twelve years yet never actually like it or be any good at it.

…what it would be like to not wear drawstring pants to work.

…if I’ll ever have to give chest compressions.

…how nice it would be to have a job that does not involve poop.

…what it’d be like to be rich.

…what I would do with all that money if I was rich.

…what the point of all this really is.

…if I’m actually missing out on something by not being all that into the bar scene.

…where I’ll be in five years.  In ten years.

…if I’ll be married before I’m 30 35.

…how I ever ended up at Maryland or in NYC (where I knew no one before moving).

…if I’ll have friends in NYC who mean as much to me as the Katies/Sara.

…why I’m so nervous and quiet when I meet new people.

…if I’ll ever find someone who I think is better than him.

…what it would be like to wake up in the morning and be able to see clearly.

…what I look like to others when I run, dance, walk, sit on the subway.

…if I’m actually a good person.

…how I can be a better person, daughter, sister, friend, nurse.

…if I’ll ever catch a ball at a baseball game.

…if I’ll ever not cry when I leave my parents.

…if I’ll be as good a parent to my children as mine are to me.

…at what age I’ll stop sleeping with my teddy bear.

…what people really think about Gatsby.

…if mile 23 ever doesn’t hurt.

…if I’ll see the Cubs win a World Series.

…what is going on inside all those buildings.

…if I’ll ever stop running.

And that’s only the first few miles.  :)

What do you wonder about when you run?

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  1. says

    Susan! I love this post! I love how running is one of the only times where we are honest with ourselves. Whether we are afraid, doubting, excited or confused, it let’s our mind run through all of these thoughts and somehow, come to terms with them. If you don’t mind, I may do a post like this as well.

    P.S. I still sleep with a bear. Totally normal.

  2. says

    Gah, now that I have been asked to consider it, I have no idea what I ponder during my runs. Lately, I think it has been how much it sucks to run in the summer heat and humidity. On other days, I bring a friend with me, so I just jabber away about how much I suck at babysitting….

  3. says

    Susan…this is awesome and inspiring and shuts the people who say “running is boring” right up. How can running be boring when you have so much in your brain to think about. The one thing I wil tell you is yes you will find someone better than him (whoever he is) as soon as you stop comparing everyone to him. And your mind is where dreams happen. If you believe you can run low threes…you can! I love posts like this! Oh ps you definitely look like a runner!!!!

  4. says

    Susan, this is an amazing post! And the exact reason I don’t listen to music either. I LOVE just letting my brain think whatever it wants and going with it. I think a lot of the same things as you. And constantly wonder if I’m where I’m supposed to be in life or not. But the next time we run together (Soon??), can we please discuss this one:

    …if I’ll ever find someone who I think is better than him

    Because girl, I HEAR you.

    • says

      “can we please discuss this one:
      …if I’ll ever find someone who I think is better than him
      Because girl, I HEAR you.”


      yay, for gossip/heart-to-heart talks during runs.

      Great post!

  5. says

    I love, love, love this post. I don’t listen to music either (only during marathons and only because after awhile I can’t stand to hear other people’s feet shuffling along). People think I’m crazy to go music-less for hours but I prefer to let my mind wander.

    I often think about my job and just leaving it all to do what I really love (running is involved, of course!). As I pass people, I also wonder what they think of me…fast runner? slow runner? doesn’t-look-good-in-those-shorts runner?

    I feel like all day long I analyze and mull over things and running is the ONLY time I let go and let my mind wander. Maybe that’s why I love long runs so much?!

  6. says

    Phew, I think a lot in the best of times (i.e. when I have plenty of distractions) so when I have a long run/bike/swim I am dangerous. I will solve all of my personal problems (and the world’s problems too) and then forget it all in the space of a few miles. I also pull a “Black Sheep” and think about a word(s) so much that it will lose all meaning for me. Then I’ll move on to “what is that person thinking?” or “I wonder who they are?” and proceed to create entire worlds in my mind about the people I see while I’m out :)

  7. says

    Oh my gosh, I LOVE this. You’re amazing. And you just gave me a LOT to think about.

    I listen to music when I run and I think I use it as a crutch more than anything. I’m afraid NOT to have music with me. Maybe I should try it out sometime?

    Thank you for quite literally sharing your thoughts. Great post. BOOKMARKED!

  8. says

    I <3 this post! While I never used to run with music (why would you when you have a team to run and talk with?) I've definitely begun to rely on the ipod to get me through morning and long runs. Every once in a while (team workouts, runs with friends, times I forget to charge it…) I run sans music and it's really enjoyable. Thanks for this, a reminder to unplug a little and let my mind really wander without singing along to Kesha in my head. :)

    I love how my running time is my time to myself. Before the work day stress begins, before meeting up with friends, before anything else can affect my day: I have my morning time for me and me alone!

  9. says

    Susan! I have no words!! I absolutely love this post. In fact, this might be my all-time favorite post of yours that I ever read.

    I’m not going to be able to express my thoughts on this as eloquently as you just did, but I will say that running is where I have done my best thinking. I have made life-changing decisions, set new goals, dreamed about the future, gained confidence about tasks that seemed more daunting before I started running, practiced tough conversations in my head, come up with speeches and blog posts and essays…and the list goes on. I love that running allows me the time to do this.

    And to answer one of your questions – yes, you look like a runner. :) I thought that the first time I met you (no lie)…especially because I ALWAYS wonder the same thing about myself.

  10. says

    I wonder about a lot when I run and when I’m not running (hence the name of my blog). I think I have chronic over thinking syndrome! Just curious, what hospital do you work at? I assure you, if you’re worried about being a good nurse, then you’re probably a fabulous one!

  11. says

    Like Ali, I’m usually too scared to run without music. (But on the rare occasions that I’m running 5K or less, I’ll leave the iPod at home.) Even with music, my mind wanders, though.

    I’m with you on the treadmill one. Come on people, don’t you like nature and need scenery?

    And also the bar scene one haha. Hello, being hungover all but ruins Saturday long run plans, right?

    Love this post! Wish we could have gone on a run together before I ditched NYC. See you at the marathon?

  12. katie says

    on just a few of these…
    …Gatsby is amazing & I love the new clothes
    …I sleep with a teddy bear when Andrew is not home
    …the Cubs BETTER win a world series some time soon
    …yes you will find someone who is better because he will make you so happy you wont have time to compare
    …you are an amazing nurse…if I were sick I would want you taking care of me
    …that being said you would make an amazing cup cake shop owner and I would be your regular customer
    …can we add if we will ever fix our education system?
    …and I love you too!!! and miss you tons…I wonder how you ended up so far away from me!

  13. says

    love love love this post! I sometimes run with music but at other times it is such a nice time for thinking. :)

  14. says

    oh my gosh susan what a beautiful post. i almost started crying!

    i often wonder what it would be like to have a non-medical job, too.

    and i do think that a day in the ICU could offer a much needed perspective to some . . .

  15. says

    Well everyone has said but I will have to say I am not surprised. Lately I feel like when I run I think about too many negative things about my running, maybe tomorrow I can try some of this!!

  16. says

    Love this post. I usually run with music, but not always. Today I had to run on the treadmill because I was doing a progression run and didn’t want to have to do it pushing a jogging stroller. When I run outside, sometimes I think well, but sometimes my mind just blanks and I’m just listening to the sound of my feet (over the music, of course).

  17. says

    Susan, I am new to reading your blog and you already have me tearing up!! I love how honest you are :) I also like to run w/o music & let my mind wander! I think we learn a lot about ourselves this way :)

  18. says

    I love this post, Susan! It’s really interesting to get a glimpse into what other runners think about when they run. I have had so, so many thoughts and ideas while running…it is pretty crazy to think about. I really don’t ever find running “boring” for that reason.
    Thanks for opening up and sharing these. I could relate to a lot of them!

  19. says

    Great post : )I’m not a real runner yet (my runs/jog are no more then 30 minutes to 1 hour) but the things I think about include: how I’m feeling (with allergies and other health issues or injuries), what’s going on in the neighborhood (what are they really building there), is that older lady who looks about 60 years old really a much faster runner/jogger then me? temperature (being too hot or cold, or actually feeling refreshed in the rain), if I’ll get a new record for time (I often run the same route and time myself)…

  20. says

    Ths is a super awesome post. It is amazing how your mind drifts to so many different topics while you’re out for a run. People ask me all the time what I think about when I’m out there for hour and I have no idea what to tell them.

    And for the record, you look like a runner to me.

  21. says

    I loved this post Susan! I think about a lot of really random things when I’m out running too. I think about work and what it must be like to be rich, and where I’d love to run in the world and sometimes I work out problems in my head without really meaning to, which is kind of a nice perk.

    In other news, I think you’re never too old to sleep with a stuffed animal and I still cry when I leave my parents house too.

  22. says

    LOVE YOUR THOUGHTS. now I must respond to some I feel strongly about even though I could respond to them ALL.

    I’m always wondering what I want to be when I grow up.
    I’d love to wear drawstring pants to work. And have them washed for me. Bam.
    You were not quiet! I always get that way too.
    You’re missing out on drunken memories in the bar scene so come join me. I promise they aren’t that scary and more chill.
    I feel the same way about friends in NYC compared to Jamie in VA beach. So let’s change that, maybe? It gets scary sometimes. A girl needs some girl friends.
    You will. (<— better than him NOT to be confused if the you'll see the cubs win a world series 😉 hehe) Been there, done that. And I seriously, seriously feel you.

  23. says

    Susan I love this post because i think about so many of the same things when i’m running

    I wonder what it’d be like to work 9-5 and sleep like a normal person
    I wonder what it’d be like to never have to work any holidays
    I wonder when i’ll ever have a job that doesnt involve poop
    I wonder what I want to be when i grow up
    I wonder what i would be if I wasn’t a nurse
    and the list continues.

  24. says

    I have so many of those questions, too! And others of them I used to have :)

    I would definitely say that you MUST be a good person… if you weren’t, many of those things would not be popping into your head :)

    I also wonder what it would be like to live completely pain-free. I can’t remember.

  25. says

    i listen to music when i run, but i definitely do my best thinking during runs. many similar questions, too. :) mostly trying to figure out what i’m going to do with my life…lots of hospital-related things, too. :)

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  27. Marie says

    So I’m one of those shy readers who rarely comments on blog posts, but I just couldn’t not comment on this post. I know this was posted nearly 2 years ago, but I think this is one of my favorite blog posts I’ve ever read. I don’t know why – I know you don’t know me, and I don’t know you, but I can just relate to so many of the things on your “I wonder” list… some points even started to make my eyes water! I think especially resonating are the points about the medical field/healthcare/your nursing career… I’m currently in an accelerated nursing program right now, halfway done with 6 months to go, and even now there are some days when I question my decision to be here in this program. But one thing for sure – it is so incredibly refreshing to find a blogger who’s so candid and sincere. It’s really humbling.


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