Some thoughts on epiphenomenalism and running

Because I run alot, people ask me: what do you think about when you run? Well, if I am running at a slower pace, I think a myriad of things, not unlike what people when they are walking, or shopping, or generally milling about. However, if I am running at a faster and harder pace, my thinking is directly affected by my run. If I am having a difficult run and I am experiencing alot of pain and suffering, my thoughts automatically turn very dark. I will suddenly notice this, for it creeps up on me. It’s as if I am trying to tune out the difficulty my body is having, so my mind starts having dark fantasies and thoughts. And that form of thinking makes the run even harder: it’s like a downward spiral. Whenever that happens, I either cut the run short or ease back on the tempo until I start to feel (and think) better.

The flip side of that is when I am having a very good run, I start thinking very creatively and imaginatively. It’s as if my mind is freed up to think this way. For example, tonight I was thinking of an essay I read by Sara Ruddick on maternal thinking and how it relates to Martin Buber’s I and Thou and how, while it relates to Buber’s ontological thinking, it differs in that a maternal relationship is symbiotic to a degree and that defines a different form of identity and relationship than Buber’s. And I thought about other things, like…well…running and epiphenomenalism! :) And I think if anything illustrates empirically that epiphenomenalism — either weak or strong — is not true, then I think my runs do that. (Not to mention one of the reasons why I like to run.)

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2 responses to “Some thoughts on epiphenomenalism and running

  1. It seems like a lot of people around me are runners, and some of my own friends have recently taken up running. Maybe its a sign I should too. When I run (which isn’t very often lately) I usually get the creative thoughts going like you described when doing a good run. I just wish I could jot down notes.

    • smartpeopleiknow

      There are pros and cons to running (vs other sports). I like it because it is low cost/low maintainance, and I don’t have any injuries. But I also like swimming for clearing my mind and freeing it up for creative thinking, and I think cyclists get the same thing. Solitary sports of all kind are good for that.

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