Running is the opportunity to be uninterrupted, nobody else’s thoughts or words invade. It is an assured space away from a world where it’s becoming increasingly difficult to be unreachable. More than anything, however, running provides sanity; a time in every day that brings focus and time to make mental progress and sort out issues. But some aspects of running are so difficult. Marathon training is tough and time consuming. The Sunday session is typically an early morning run I do and it’s usually the longest. From the minute I wake I think of excuses and reasons not to go. Just stay in bed and do it later. Roll over, the bed is cosy, its warm and I’ve found the perfect spot. But I’m up; and I’ve convinced myself to get out of bed because the Sunday morning long run is the cornerstone of most marathon training plans and like any foundation, it is the reference point for all of the other runs during the training for a marathon. But it’s so boring! Even when running in a group, the weekly long run is a monotonous affair because after fourteen or fifteen miles there’s very little chat. Non Runners sometimes dismiss running as a tedious, dreary pursuit. But in a world in which we’re all so busy and have so many distractions around us, it’s often rare that we actually get bored anymore. Digital technologies have enabled constant engagement, robbed us of our opportunities to be bored. But rather than being avoided, boredom should be embraced because our brains thrive on it. It can benefit our thoughts and lives. So-called “boring” activities, like running long distances, can lead to more creativity, because it is in this dull fuzziness of frustration where the mind doesn’t simply consume but it creates (Elpidorou, 2014; Mann & Cadman, 2014). Boredom leads to awareness, it allows the brain time to explore different ideas, thoughts or things to do. I’ve realised that this moment of disengagement and despair is the time the brain lights up. Creativity is always associated with moments of inspiration. It is in this alone boring time that the most productive thinking is done, thoughts about nothing in particular, but the mind naturally finds topics to focus on. It is usually things that have been avoided all week. Life changing decisions are made, new businesses born and families planned whilst running. So embrace monotony and let boredom reign a little more often. Hang up and log off and go for a run, because merely having a problem to be solved doesn’t provoke inspiration. It’s far more likely for solutions to be found in times of boredom, because being bored is what motivates you to take something apart just to see what’s inside, even if you may not get it back together.
Elpidorou A. (2014). The bright side of boredom. Front Psychol 5, 1245.
Mann S & Cadman R. (2014). Does Being Bored Make Us More Creative? Creativity Research Journal 26, 165-173.