This may come as a surprise, but my mind is rarely fully-occupied during a run. I like to take the time to zone out and empty my mind of everything, even my mile splits and how cold my left pinky feels. I can obsess about how my run went when I get home and have all the data in front of my. (Thanks Nike+!).
But I realized something recently during a run and have spent some time thinking about it. I started running partly because I was disappointed in the level of stamina I felt I had. But I've found that running isn't about things getting easier. I'm can be just as out of breath running a mile now as when I first started. But other things improve. The time it takes for a mile to go by, for example. I'm certainly quicker than I was at first, and I expect that to improve even more as I continue running.
See, running is more about digging deeper, about pushing harder, than it is about gliding along. When I face a new goal, be it distance or time, I set one that will require some hard work, not something I'm already doing. The best personal example of this is distance. My weeks are set up with shortish, hard workouts during the week and a long run as the last run of the week. About 10 months ago, my long run was three miles, and I remember telling a running store employee how I felt like that was the extent of my endurance. I haven't gone fewer than two miles in a run since October. Three miles is now my short run.
This progress will be different for different people. I don't expect everyone to be able to keep up with me, but I also know I'm not the best in the world, that people are far faster and can go much further than me. But I'll betcha anything we can all do better than we used to. So, everyone from the spectacular folks who qualified for the Olympics this past Saturday, to the folks just starting out, let's push just a little farther, just a little faster than last time. Let's show our past selves up!