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Dad's Running Voodoo

Voodoo_doll_4 One of our kids lays around and utters, “There’s nothing to do.”  Or someone’s tired or crabby or dealing with a problem.   And that’s when I resist suggesting they “Go for a run.”

In the past, my kids looked at me like I believe in voodoo, and I'm pretty sure they're thinking, “Dad, you’re a little crazy.”  Of course “Go for a run” conjures up images of red-faced, sweaty, stinky Dad, and so they wonder why would running be a good option for them?

I recognize that running isn’t for everyone and it’s  not the solution for every situation.  But my natural impulse is to frame daily challenges, hassles, and opportunities in the context of a run.

Nothing to do?  A relationship matter?  Stuck making a decision?  An easy run is often a best option to keep me going when it’s unclear what to do.   Even when running appears the least logical for others, it works for me!   

Tired?  Some of my best runs have come after working on my feet as a concession stand volunteer or presenting training all day at work. 

Problem_solved Figuring things out?  One morning during an ordinary run I was mulling over household finances and wondering how to pay a repair expense.  Then like seeing an oasis, I recalled out of nowhere that we had some money in a forgotten account.  Without that run, not sure if I would ever have remembered those funds to meet the expense.

Some people believe we run to “get it all out,” like we have demons that need to be released.  Maybe, but mostly I run to arrive at a place that I can’t reach otherwise—where I’m mentally and physically restored more than if I laid around waiting to get energized or zapped with a flash of brilliance.

My maturing kids actually do understand more about running, and their glances at me like I’m a voodoo doctor have stopped.  They each run when their schedules and lives allow, on their own terms.  So these days when I suggest going for a run, their responses are more like, “not now, but maybe later.” 

That’s progress.

Voodoo Doll on Flickr by GotJenks

Problem Soved on Flickr by Myopia Pix


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Database Diva

I also use my runs to get a different perspective on a problem. I've run because I was angry, depressed, frustrated, or overwhelmed, and nearly always felt better for having done so. I've come up with solutions to technical problems, and contemplated my next blog post while running. I took a writing class a few years ago, and came up with all of my poems while out running. Long walks, especially hikes in the woods, are also good. The key is to find the thing that gets your physical, mental and emotional life in balance. It really helps if it is something you enjoy! There are so many good reasons to run (or at least get up and move), and very few good reasons to not do so (although there are plenty of excuses).


You have hit on the great paradox of running. Feeling tired, running will energize you. Feeling overwhelmed, running tends to put things in perspective.


Another great post! I too use my runs to relieve stress, mull over decisions, escape from boredom, think, etc. and I always feel better. Even if I didn't necessary want to go in the first place. Running helps me stay centered (and sane!)


just remember running makes you smarter. (see link)



It really does help you get focused. I find when I run in the morning I can concentrate much better at work. Just another reason running is awesome!


Great post, Tom.

I felt this especially last week when I was injured. Something went poorly during class, and all I wanted to do was run to get my mind off of it; it was torture not being able to hit the pavement!


Like others, running is my best time for doing all of my thinking....yesterday for example, I was only going to go for a short run....I ended up doubling my intended distance only because I was so deep in thought....mind you I did focus on the last km of the run as I realized...wow I ran a lot further than I thought....yes when I get mad at hubby...it's "I'm going for a run"...if finances are a worry...it's "I'm going for a run"....hubby is getting use to the idea now that running is my way of clearing my head...rejeuvanting myself....great post...and thanks again for dropping by my blog...cheers...


I just read that article posted by Jamie...very informative...I think I could use that information in a course I am taking right now....cool....

bill carter

Oh man, I love this one Tom. I think all of us runners can relate to the problem solving ability inherent in running. It has happened to me too many times to count. I do love the beginning of the post where you acknowledge the fact that we are viewed as being out in left field or just crazy. Everyone has their own way of coping with life.....runners run.

Thanks, Bill

Sempre Libera

So true! I've sorted through many a problem by pounding the pavement and sweating it out. And props to you for helping your kids see it too.


My dad always used to tell us, "nothing good ever happens just sitting around". He is right! Running conversations in my head or with others are always richer.

pat monahan

I don't know if I'm there yet where running helps me clear my head or where I can find enlightment during the run. However, I always seem to feel pretty darn good at the end of the run. So, I guess there's hope for me yet.


Yes, yes, yes running is pretty much free therapy. MAkes my day sooooo much better, especially after one of "those" days. It's always a nice place to release all the angry energy :-)

I'm doing good thanks for asking :-) I think I'm going to go ahead will a super short/slow test run again. We shall see . . .


good post. i agree that anytime something is going wrong or i just need a little clarity, a good run is always there for me. Sometimes it just makes things seem less important than before you went out running. but i do also think that any form of exercise can help make things clearer so even if they don't want to run, a nice bike ride helps too!! thanks for stopping by!


I am sure I think of many things when I run, but I have a hard time recalling them afterward. It's as if the brain goes blank, and the information vanishes. I remember musing about this, raving about that, pondering and lamenting, only without the specifics. I guess it's a kind of mind-cleansing exercise. But sometimes I think I'd rather be dreaming.

Reluctant Runner

I had to laugh. Your suggestion to your children reminds me of my Mom, who used to suggest when we said we were bored: "Why don't you clean your room?" I now suggest the same thing to my children when they're bored.

Joe Flacco Jersey

I am very much overwhelmed by your thoughts for this particular story. A more deeper and staged knowledge would be good for me

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