What do you think about when you swim / run?

(63 Posts)
BuiltForComfort Thu 07-Feb-13 12:30:11

Have started trying to get fit - bit of swimming, should get into running too.. But I struggle with my thoughts - 30-40 mins of lane swimming either gets very dull or I can't switch off with thinking about a few difficult things that have happened to me in recent years. I don't want to dwell on it all, it makes the swim into a negative experience. How do you occupy your mind?

To preempt the most obvious answer on running - music would be the easy answer but I don't get on well with earphones and spend all my time readjusting them or getting tangled with the wires. And I don't like cutting myself off from whats going on around me IYKWIM.

Cycling is my favourite as you have to concentrate on the roads / route and there is lots to look at as you whizz along. But have hurt hand and can't brake so that's off for a while. Running is embarrassingly slow - not so much variety to look at!

thenightsky Thu 07-Feb-13 12:33:11

Running is best done with a partner you can gossip with.

Swimming.. I don't know. I go about 3 times a week and get terribly bored by looking at blue tiles go by on the bottom of the pool. I count lengths and think about politics at work, kids, worries etc. This can put me off going really as I end up with negative thoughts.

daisydoodoo Thu 07-Feb-13 12:33:50

nothing thats the beauty of it. I try and run most days and those 10km are the stress free part of my day. I run around a local set of lakes so can vary my route quite a bit so as not to get bored. I do have my ipod on and some music via earphones. it was a case of finding the right earphones for me, after buying many pairs the best pair have been JVC ear buds. they mold well to my inner ear and are light.

Swimming i can't relax into as much, perhaps becasue im not s comfiortable in water. I Can swim but i have this huge fear or drowning, so never fully at ease.

daisydoodoo Thu 07-Feb-13 12:34:30

and if you can talk while running your not pushing yourself enough! wink

EssieW Thu 07-Feb-13 12:35:56

I count in sets of 8 and vary it by mixing strokes, or doing sprints for a set of 8. I find it more absorbing than swimming for a length of time and it's definitely improved my swimming. I'm generally trying to remember what I'm doing next when swimming. I do just let my mind wander though sometimes but mostly on trivial stuff like what's for dinner. I think I also focus on what I'm doing n each stroke eg talking myself through it in my head or working out when I'm going to breathe.

stargirl1701 Thu 07-Feb-13 12:36:10

Swimming can depend on my mood. If I'm grumpy then a swim will work me up into fury grin

thenightsky Thu 07-Feb-13 12:36:11

ahahha... i knew someone would turn up and tell me that if I could talk I wasn't working hard enough grin

We gossip on the slower recovery bits actually wink

CoteDAzur Thu 07-Feb-13 12:36:25

Push yourself hard enough in any endurance sport, and you will see that you don't think of anything at all. That is partly the joy of it, as daisy said - for once, you live in the moment with no baggage from the past nor worries about the future smile

MirandaWest Thu 07-Feb-13 12:37:59

I listen to music when I run but also just think. Never quite sure what about afterwards but sometimes get stuff sorted out in my head. Or I listen to a running podcast. My bf listens to ordinary podcasts I think.

CoteDAzur Thu 07-Feb-13 12:38:59

daisy - Actually, if the goal is to burn fat, you should be able to talk while "running" (well, jogging, really).

EauRouge Thu 07-Feb-13 13:09:13

Nothing! It's half an hour a day when I can just switch off. It's also the only time I get to myself so I would hate to share with a running partner or club. I run through the countryside though so there's always plenty to look at. I can see that a treadmill or swimming pool would be very boring.

BuiltForComfort Thu 07-Feb-13 13:16:58

I wish I could think about nothing, it's quite a skill to empty your mind and just enjoy the sensation of what you're doing. I probably need to push myself harder then, that does actually make sense. Will check out the earphones,mi could probably run with a podcast. Will still find it hard to manage the wires though!

TheFallenNinja Thu 07-Feb-13 13:18:39

I just think of getting to the next milestone as quickly as I can smile

EauRouge Thu 07-Feb-13 13:18:47

How about taking up outdoor swimming or trail running?

MirandaWest Thu 07-Feb-13 13:19:00

I think you can get some sort if wireless ones (am a little clueless blush)

CurlsRUs Thu 07-Feb-13 13:20:45

While running I either try to solve work problems - usually very successfully, and it stops me worrying about things in the middle of the night - or I take a nosy at all the houses and gardens I pass by, to get design inspiration. My favourite time to run is at dusk, when people have their lights on but haven't shut their curtains blush

mercury7 Thu 07-Feb-13 13:21:37

I find it hard to follow long or complex thoughts while running or swimming, I tend to count alot and pay attention to my stride or stroke
I try and tune in to how I'm feeling...if I really push myself today will I have enough in the tank to run and lift weights tomorrow.

There's often an undercurrent of 'oh no this is really hard I dont think I can go the distance' or rarely 'whoa I'm in the zone I feel all tingly and things are flowing'

I listen to podcasts when running but can only really concentrate if it's comedy, mostly I listen to music, that and the effort of running takes up most of my concentration

If I'm not listening to music, I find it hard to switch off too. Sometimes I do a sort of mental 'body scan' while I'm running though. A bit like some people do in yoga or meditation. It's quite good because it occupies but relaxes the mind and also flags up any areas of tension or awkward posture etc, so it can help with your running style too. Not that the word 'style' can really be used about my running grin.

mercury7 Thu 07-Feb-13 13:39:06

I seem to spend most of my time flicking through tracks trying to find the 'right' music to make the running easy, the 'right' music is very elusive, what works one day is ineffective the nextsad

daisydoodoo Thu 07-Feb-13 14:27:42

I run in stints, so run for x minutes then jog, then run again. my ipod tells me when to run, when to jog when to walk etc. Interval training? Could be wrong.

I invested in some personal training sessions to begin with, he said i should be able to still say yes no, hello, excuse me etc but not a conversation? its a new thing for me, just over a year now. I never thought i would be the type of person who would enjoy running or exercise in any shape or form, but i don't like to go more than a day without some kind of exercise now.

RedPencils Thu 07-Feb-13 14:39:20

Listen to music when running and just think about stuff.
Simeone suggested to me that listening to audio books when running is a good way to make the time go faster because you have to really concentrate but it didn't work for me because I like to think about stuff bothering me.

I find swimming much harder, I stop way too many times to have a look at what is going on because I get bored with it.

mercury7 Thu 07-Feb-13 14:58:35

how many miles are most of you clocking up per week?
I'd like to increase mine a bit but i suspect it's best to increase very slowly to avoid injuries..also past a certain point i'm not sure if the benefits to body composition are really worth the stress to the immune system

or am i just being a wussgrin

RedPencils Thu 07-Feb-13 16:12:50

I do two 5kms a week at the moment. In summer when I can go out after work I do a third. Hate running in the cold and dark. I find it really hard to do anything further than 5/6km, my knees start to ache and I get a bit bored.
I've thought about signing up for a a marathon a few times but get put off by how many hours you need to put in. A half is bad enough.

happystory Thu 07-Feb-13 16:19:29

Interesting question! I don't swim that energetically, more to stretch and relax but lately have found that the minute i start swimming all my worries disappear and i think about all the nice places i have swum, holidays etc. Tis v soothing

Dahlen Thu 07-Feb-13 16:24:08

I tend to use running in different ways, depending on my mood/situation at the time. Sometimes I zone out and just live in the moment, but other times I like to use it to think exclusively about whatever is bothering me and transfer the angst into physical effort - it's a way of letting it go.

EauRouge Thu 07-Feb-13 16:24:20

I am/was (on the injury bench temporarily) doing just under 5k three times a week. I've almost finished C25K. I'm planning on doing a 10K in the summer, I wouldn't have the time to train for a marathon or half at the moment! I've read that you're not supposed to increase your time or distance by more than 10% a week.

Mercury7 - I'm not sure how many miles a week, but I'm training for my first half. I'm doing 3 x 30 mins runs a week and one longer one which gets gradually longer each week - 90 mins this week.

drjohnsonscat Thu 07-Feb-13 17:14:40

I listen to desert island discs sometimes. Or I look at all the houses and decide which one I'd like to live in. Or I spend my imaginary lottery winnings. I definitely need more distraction when running because I find it harder and am more on the verge of stopping with every second that passes.

Swimming is easier for me and more meditative so I just think about my stroke or how I feel as I'm moving through the water. I still can't do a tumble turn but I like pushing off from the side and seeing how far I can go underwater and then looking up to see the light and enjoying that movement (I would say glide but I'm not sure I do anything as elegant as glide). If I'm struggling a bit I'll recite poetry from o'level.

WifeofPie Thu 07-Feb-13 17:14:50

When I run I sort things out in my head...often things that have been bothering me come to a head and I kind of luxuriate in dwelling on them for a bit and then they seem to dissolve away, iyswim. I always run in the morning so often think about my do-list for the rest of the day or what Gigantic lunch I'm going to eat later or what I'm going to make for dinner. Sometimes I I aging I'm being chased by coyotes (lots near where I run) and that I have to sprint to get away from them <total weirdo>.

Whatever I end up thinking about I always feel that the exercise, endorphins and fresh air have cleared away the mental cobwebs.

WifeofPie Thu 07-Feb-13 17:16:21

I imagine, not I aging. FFS.

BsshBossh Thu 07-Feb-13 19:59:05

With swimming I focus entirely on my movement through the water and how hard my heart and lungs are working. I can't seem to think about anything under these conditions.

mercury7 Thu 07-Feb-13 20:35:32

when I'm walking I tend to think quite intensely about the various things that are going on in my life, run through scenarios, conversations I've had or would like to have, come up with various theories about why she/he said/did this that and the other.

When I'm running it's all I can do to make myself keep doing it, there's no room for much stream of consciousness!

tulip27 Thu 07-Feb-13 20:44:20

When running I listen to music , count reps , make up stories in my head , plan the shopping list, watch the wildlife.
I run about 40-50 miles per week with my longest run taking 2-3 hours. I find varying route between public places and beautiful nature filled places helps. Variation in speed , adding hills etc keeps me from getting bored.

mercury7 Thu 07-Feb-13 21:37:21

wow thats alot, you must be super super fit Tulipgrin

BuiltForComfort Thu 07-Feb-13 22:31:01

Thanks for all the ideas - and inspiration, I can barely run for 5 mins at the moment. But I can swim for a lot longer!

sybilfaulty Thu 07-Feb-13 22:34:58

Why not listen to music while you swim? I have a speedo aquabeat and regularly swim for an hour whilst plugged into some energising music. Has revolutionised my swimming and wouldn't be without it now.

bonkersLFDT20 Thu 07-Feb-13 22:42:41

I either run with a friend at happy, chatty pace (daisy I see your smiley, but just want to say that not all runs should be done at a pace too fast to talk - there is lots of benefit to the steady run (endurance and stamina), fast runs build speed and strength), or I run with The Archers, Woman's Hour or Friday Nighy Comedy (or sometimes all of them if it's a very long run!).

Music puts me off my pace. Or I think about nothing or everything. Any worries always feel better after a run - either because I've put them into perspective, or I've got a kick ass plan of action!

I don't enjoy swimming, but when I couldn't run due to injury I swam to keep my fitness up. I thought about 1) how many lengths I'd done and 2) Monster Munch.

JoyceDivision Thu 07-Feb-13 22:45:14

Our pool has music on fpr length swims. Admittedly, I could recount the full track listing of disc one of Now! 83... but better than silence!

I think about random daft stuff.. then realise I am grinning like a loon grin

Always keep a tally of lengths though!

I've switched from running to swimming lately due to injury. I used to listen to music while running sometimes (I used an app to track my runs that spoke to you at intervals to tell you how you were doing which you could combine with a playlist). Other times I used to just go and run a route I had picked with no timings, no measurements, no music and just think about whatever, but try not to think about anything that required too much attention, just kept it vague. A lot of the time I just liked looking at the gardens and houses. Other times I listened to Radio 4 podcasts, which I also do at work to stop getting bored (on my own in a office much of the time).

In the pool, I used to try and do a set number of lengths or swim for a set time and really struggled to do either though boredom/thinking of all the other things that needed doing that day. I am now following a programme of mixed strokes to improve my swimming technique/stamina and keeping track of what I need to do and really concentrating on technique is all I need to do, I used to be ready to get out after about 15 mins, bored stiff, but now the time goes by much more quickly, also I count strokes. Our pool has music on at the weekend family sessions but not for lane swimming, which I'm glad about, I hate having other people's choice of music foisted on me, that's a problem with gyms too.

Oh and I can't run with other people, I need to be able to set my own pace and would prefer not to chat.

Anifrangapani Thu 07-Feb-13 22:58:25

I write investment pspers

thenightsky Thu 07-Feb-13 22:59:11

sybilfaulty does the aquabeat not hurt your ears or fall out? I really fancy one, but I struggle with normal earbud type speakers as they hurt like hell after about 10 mins of use.

RedPencils Fri 08-Feb-13 13:17:00

Wow I never knew anything like aqua beat had been invented. That's going straight to the top of my birthday list.

TalkinPeace2 Fri 08-Feb-13 16:07:03

I swim a mile every weekday morning.
I watch the birds and the clouds and the trees
and write all my emails and work reports in my head ready to put down on paper when I get home.

bigbadbarry Fri 08-Feb-13 16:14:34

I listen to the archers when I run smile I have also struggled to find comfy headphones (I have freakishly small ears, it seems) but I found some bluetooth ones that are good because they are not attached to the ipod so don't pull, they just clip to my collar.

LillethTheCat Fri 08-Feb-13 20:18:58

I have imaginary conversations with people blush Dont know why, the thoughts just come in my head. Sometimes they are real people who just happen not to be next to me or Im talking to myself or some imaginary part of me.

I wish I could just turn off thinking, but I never can.

JollyRedGiant Fri 08-Feb-13 20:35:02

I am not a runner. My knees don't cope well and I sort of don't see the point.

I love swimming though and have recently started going again after a few years of not really bothering.

I do 40 lengths (1km) and count lengths. I also think about what I'm going to do for the next length - stroke/speed. If I'm going fast I just think about swimming.

Last night I mixed it up by counting DOWN for the last 10 lengths. <living on the edge>

bonkersLFDT20 Sat 09-Feb-13 07:30:25

bigbadbarry I also have small ear holes and struggled with ear phones for running. The ones I settled on are these
They're great because they sort of rest in your ear so you're not worried about them falling out and the over-ear fit means there's nothing on your head.

bonkersLFDT20 Sat 09-Feb-13 07:31:14

Jolly LOL at not seeing the point of running! What's the point of swimming then? ;-)

JollyRedGiant Sat 09-Feb-13 08:20:24

Hah, I know, bonkers it's a bit mad of me, but I just can't work up the enthusiasm.

melliebobs Sat 09-Feb-13 08:24:07

For running I go to ParkRun every saturday. It's a group, doesn't matter how crap u are, can have a chat with some n a rewarding brew after smile

ILoveTIFFANY Sat 09-Feb-13 08:33:09

Gosh couldn't run without my music! It's what spurs me on

And is it my imagination but could my running have improved due to downloading running trax by ministry of sound?

I've improved..... But is it the beat of the music or because I've been doing shred too and got stronger??

mercury7 Sat 09-Feb-13 10:46:05

for me the point of running is that it keeps body fat down like no other cardio i've tried.
It's also torture compared to other cardiosad
but gives a better high afterwardssmile

i wish i found it effortless in the way that some people do!

bigbadbarry Sat 09-Feb-13 14:55:22

bonkers I didn't get on with the over-the-ear ones I tried, they kept dropping off! I have these though I can't remember where I bought them. If you fancy a change I recommend them highly smile

bonkersLFDT20 Sat 09-Feb-13 22:28:07

mercury I know exactly what you mean about running being the best thing for a cardio workout. When I was injured and had to use the exercise bike I simply could not get going fast enough to get my heart beating the same way - not without increasing the resistance too much, and I didn't want to end up with massive legs!

Luckily, I don't find running at all torturous!

bigbad Ooooh, they're nice. I maybe have larger ear flaps (or whatever the top of the ear is called!) than you do. My overears stay over my ears, and also help keep my hair back at bit (though I have stupid hair for running - too short to tie up, but long enough to piss me right off when the wind is behind or to the side of me!).

bigbadbarry Sat 09-Feb-13 22:36:37

I think it might be called your pinna? Haven't looked it up so am prepared to be very wrong smile I have fringe issues too and am on the look out for a bandy thing that will gold it back and keep my ears warm but not annoy me. Is a minefield.

bigbadbarry Sat 09-Feb-13 22:36:53

Um, hold it back. Obvs.

thenightsky Sat 09-Feb-13 22:41:22

I have hair that is too short to tie up and long enough to get on my nerves when running. I've solved it with this handy little headband and it keeps my ears warm too.

I've got one of those headbands too, I suffer with ear ache in cold wind but get too hot running with a hat on, is is just the thing, only problem is if I wear it over my ears it makes my earphones dig in and feel uncomfortable. It solves the finge problem nicely though, so all round it's a winner.

lottiegarbanzo Sat 09-Feb-13 22:52:17

With swimming there's enough necessary awareness of others and counting lengths to prevent drifting into in depth contemplation. I find myself thinking about small but often enjoyable 'problems' like what recipes to cook, outfit to wear, little bits of everyday logistics, sometimes running through conversations.

With running I can get more into a topic. I do often find I work through negative thoughts about people and situations while running but then feel much happier afterwards, in the running high. Other times happier thoughts, again, imagined conversations and hinting about tasks and plans.

lottiegarbanzo Sat 09-Feb-13 22:52:46

Hinting? To whom? No, thinking!

bonkersLFDT20 Sun 10-Feb-13 08:10:28

I look a twat with those bands on my head [vain]

sarahtigh Sun 10-Feb-13 08:17:31

while I would rather swim that run,

it is not necessary in any of these exercises to push yourself to the extent you can not talk, there is lots of benefits to lower grade activity, in fact just walking 3-4 miles a day is good, however if you wish to go fast that is fine but there is no need for anyone to push themselves unless they want to

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