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Runners are often asked, “why do you run?”   Some standard answers seem to be, “I run to stay fit” or “I run to stay healthy” or “I run to lose weight” or “I run so I can eat a lot” and on and on the list goes.  Meb Keflezighi wrote a book called, “Run to Overcome”.   He often says he also “runs to win.”   I guess we all can say we run to win, too, but most of us would have a different interpretation of the word “win”!
I actually run for all these same reasons but I also run for one more very significant reason, “I run to think.”   I do my best thinking when I am out on the road by myself away from all of life’s distractions – cell phone, computer, television and sometimes even people.   When I am alone, I focus on my thoughts, my ideas, my goals, my to do list, my dreams.  I do my best and most creative thinking on the road.  This is my way of multi-tasking – getting in a good run and actually “working” at the same time.
Before I head out, I decide what I want to focus on for that run – is it an issue or a problem I am currently dealing with or a vision for an event or project I want to develop or something I have coming up that I have to plan for – and then I just do a deep dive into that topic while on the road.
I usually never run with earphones or earbuds and listen to music like most people do.  So that I don’t lose any good thoughts, I instead always carry a small, handheld voice recorder with me, recording key words, phrases and thoughts.  If I didn’t do this, the 5-10 good ideas I might have come up with would vanish the moment I walked in the door.  

Nothing bothers me more than coming up with a great thought or idea and then losing it.  With my advancing age, I now have a tough time even remembering what I had for breakfast.   I rack my brain trying to remember what the good idea was and it is just gone.  Not sure where it went but it is gone.  When I carry my trusty recorder, my good thoughts out on the road are never gone and always captured and saved.  I call it my Assistant Race Director!


As I carry it, I can switch from hand-to-hand or even put it away in my pocket until I come up with the next good thought I want to record.   You can do this using your smartphone, too, but I have about 30 years using my little voice recorder so I’m sticking with that.  Besides, in the really cold weather your phone can hibernate on you (shut down) but not my trusty recorder!

If I forget the recorder, depending on how far away I am from the house, I will usually turn back and go get it, hoping not to come up with too many good ideas while running without the recorder in hand!

As I said, I actually have been using the recorder for about 30 years but of course not the exact same one.  I have owned three of them but lost two of them while running as they must have fallen out of my pocket and I didn’t notice it at the time.  I could never find them.  

Unfortunately, you can’t locate them like you can an iPhone!
Sometimes I might talk too fast or my recordings might be too hard to understand because I might be breathing real hard running up a hill.  I then get really angry that I can’t understand one of the messages I recorded.  I play it over and over again hoping I remember what it was but sometimes they are gone forever.  

Anal, eh?
I recently went out for a run and started thinking about what I wanted my next topic to be for this very column.  This is what I came up with...on the run!  What I am writing now is what I was thinking about out on that run.   Pretty neat, eh?  On this particular run, I ran for 7-miles and made 28 recordings (see photo) for an average of 4 recordings per mile.  If I was running 10-minute pace, that’s one recording every 2 ½ minutes.  Not too bad.  

That’s some serious thinking!  Many times after a run and a lot of recordings, I send an email to my DMSE Sports team with a whole bunch of new ideas and event concepts.  Some then write back saying, “you just went on a long run, didn’t you?”  They know the drill!!


As soon as I arrive back home, I play back all the recordings and write each of them down (see photo) and then sometimes I make up two different sheets – one for things I can do right away and one for things that might be more long-term ideas or thoughts.  However, once I write them down, I don’t cross them off until I do them or determine they are no longer that important to consider or accomplish which is rare.

What is also a phenomenon is that when I am in such deep thought and recording one idea after another, as I arrive back home, I simply cannot remember where the heck I just ran.  I consider this a good thing because I am not thinking about any pain or discomfort during the run or about how many miles I have left to run because I am in such deep thought!  It’s as if I didn’t run at all but all the benefits of a run.

And, if I’m not feeling up for a run somedays, I run anyways just to think – solve issues, be creative, make decisions, expand my vision.   This is how I also plan for my races like Boston and others.  And, I can do this while cycling, walking and even driving my car.  


More importantly, it can be much safer than wearing earphones as I can still hear noises and sounds around me like oncoming cars.  One exception to doing this is that I usually don’t take it if I am running with others as we are usually in deep conversation with one another so I am thinking about them and focused on what they are saying to me.   

Now I need to go for a run right now with my recorder to think about how I am going to end this column.  I’ll be right back.  

OK, I’m back!  One final thought I just recorded and that is, how do I market this voice recorder concept myself?  I think every runner should own one!  If you haven’t tried it, give it a go.  Trust me, you’ll then never leave home without it.   Anyone want to be a partner in a new venture??  Ha.   I’ll donate all the profits to charity!   Guess I need to go for yet another “run to think” about all this and to figure out my next steps!  
Keep on running and keep on thinking!


Dave McGillivray
DMSE Sports, Inc.

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