The Fear of being Idle

“It’s just so boring”…… Non Runners sometimes dismiss running as a tedious, dreary pursuit. Sometimes running isn’t fun, 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. It can be challenging, sickening and painful but it’s never something I would describe as boring.   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 have empty space anymore. The fear of boredom – “thaasophobia” , has meant that most people now fill the voids of their lives with digital technologies, Netflix, social media and whats app . We have an “always on” and  “always available” world now.  boredomRunning is seen some times as doing the same thing day in day out, and the reality is the sport that we enjoy is very repetitive; It’s the same movement a thousand or tens of thousands of times. To make it worse: most recreational runners wear the same shoes, run at the same pace over the same distance on the same routes every day – we can be slow to vary or change our routine. But this is similar all areas of our lives. We walk, drive, bus or train the same route to get to work, we pick up “the usual” coffee en- route, we arrive to work at the same time every day, sit at the same desk, take our breaks and lunch at the same time every day with or without the same people and usually in the same spot. Most of us do the same things every day, we crave and embrace routines and they are comforting. While routine is tremendously beneficial for organizing all the areas in your life, it does so with it a level of boredom and monotony. Having the will to change is common but having the will power to drive transformation is rare – allowing the “status quo” to reign. Just like in life, in running, allowing the status quo to linger untested causes stagnation.  Most will resist but the reality is that one of the only constants in life is change. People, circumstances and things change. It can be small, big, subtle or sudden and it is often a consequence rather than a choice. New ideas are often smothered by complacency, inertia and fear. But the capability to change is not only critical, it’s crucial not only in order to progress but to survive. Even in light of the importance of change, boredom or empty space 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. Running is a time of reflection, a type of meditation through movement. It forces people to live in the now and deal with the present.  By the end of a these runs worries find resolutions and moods are lifted. I’ve realised that this moment of disengagement and despair is the time the brain lights up……. So running is far from boring.


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.

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I qualified with an Honours degree in Physiotherapy from Trinity College Dublin in 2004. Since graduating I have worked in St. James Hospital Dublin and have worked in all the areas of speciality within the hospital including cardiorespiratory, orthopaedics, rheumatology, care of the elderly, neurology, burns and plastic surgery among others . I have also completed a post graduate certificate in acupuncture in UCD 2009. The Physiotherapy Department in SJH has strong links with Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and I have supervised undergraduate and postgraduate physiotherapy students on practice placements and also delivered lectures on the undergraduate academic programme in TCD. I have a keen interest in all sports and currently plays with Cill Dara RFC 1st team squad, and Milltown GAA. I have previously worked as Physiotherapist to Co. Carlow Senior GAA Team, Milltown GAA, Leinster Junior Rugby Team and Cill Dara RFC. I am an experienced runner and competed in the Dublin City Marathon in 2002. I continue to participate in running events and multisport disciplines such as Gaelforce West, Gaelforce North and the Motivate Challenge. I have a particular interest in strength and conditioning. I utilise this knowledge of resistance training in the treatment of his clients. I am committed to continuous learning and development in order to ensure the optimal level of care is offered to my clients, and with this in mind I am currently undertaking a certification in Strength and Conditioning (CSCS) with the NSCA.

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