What to Think About During Exercise

By Leo Babauta

A reader wrote to me and said he gets bored during running, which makes him want to just stop running.

And so he asked for suggestions for what to think about while running or exercising in general.

Such a great question: if you’re bored, why would you want to do it? Why not read fun stuff on the Internet instead?

Well, other than the fantastic health benefits, exercise is a wonderful time to think, to practice mindfulness, to socialize, to escape distraction.

A little background about my qualifications: when I started running in 2005, I could barely run 5 minutes and was mostly sedentary until then. I slowly worked my way up to a 5K race, then decided (not quite wisely) to set my sights on a marathon. After a year, I ran my first marathon (after a couple of half marathons and numerous other races). I ran a couple marathons after that, a bunch of other races, including some short triathlons. Last year, I ran a 50-mile ultramarathon. Though all of that, I’ve spent countless hours running.

I’ve also spent a lot of hours strength training, doing Crossfit-style workouts, or other fun stuff.

I’ve spent a lot of time exercising. And I love it.

I don’t train with music. For me, it’s distracting and a waste of good thinking time.

I’ve listened to audiobooks on long (3+ hour) runs, but usually work out in silence.

Except when I’m training with a friend. Last year I did a lot of the longer runs with my friend Scott, and for about a year I’ve been training in the gym with my friend Tynan (when he’s in town — he travels like a gypsy). I’ve also worked out a lot with my wife Eva, and with my sister Kat when I was on Guam.

I love working out with a friend. It’s such a great way to enjoy exercise: have great conversations with someone you enjoy spending time with. Build a friendship while building fitness. So if I can ever find a workout partner, that’s my first choice.

I also love working out and running alone.

Here’s what I think about: