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Need inspiration or a new idea? Go for a run!

Updated: Feb 24, 2021

There is this problem that has been nagging you for some time and you feel you are stuck in a rut? Or you just need some new, fresh ideas?

For the past year or so I have been noticing that I am getting some of my best ideas while running. This is now my greatest reward and motivation to go for a run.

But before you get your running shoes on, I have a little confession to make.

My love/hate relationship with running

As a former professional athlete, everyone would think that I absolutely love to go for a jog around the neighborhood.

Well, the truth is that I always had this love and hate relationship with running.

While I was always quite fit and could run 10km without any problem, I never found it super fascinating. A couple of years into my retirement from professional sports, I even struggled to go for a few kilometers without needing a break. I was just not able to pace myself and after a few minutes I could feel my legs crunch.

There is one prerequisite – steady pace

This changed gradually when I signed up to participate in my first ever half-marathon. I finished proudly with a slight bitter aftertaste. My CEO at the time (who could be my dad btw.) tactically passed me just a few hundred meters before the finish line.

No big deal actually, except that I became a discussion subject at the next few board meetings.

Nonetheless, the victory of that day was still all mine - I learned to pace myself. And this means that sometimes you need to go slower to get further faster.

Today, I even enjoy running because I can shake off all the daily stress and get some pretty amazing ideas.

I would call that double win.

It is scientifically proven that we capture great ideas while being active

So, what is really happening to our brain when our body is on autopilot?

It is scientifically proven that when we exercise, our blood flow increases and sends more energy and oxygen to our brain. The hippocampus, a part of the brain that is critical for learning and memory is particularly active during exercise.

This is the reason why we can think more clearly and consequently perform better during and after an exercise.

Keep a simple running routine

This is what I normally do to get the best out of my run:

  1. Go solo – I have the scenery and my music to keep me company

  2. Keep the pace – if my mind is bothered with my breathing or tired legs, it is a sign that I am going too fast. Slow down, have positive thoughts, enjoy the scenery and fresh air.

  3. Keep the same route – I have my favorite route where I know exactly what to expect and don’t need to think where to turn next.

  4. Bring your phone, turn notifications off – I know many would argue against it, but upbeat music helps me with the pace. However, the main reason I keep my phone with me, is that while I am walking to cool down at the end of the run, I capture my ideas directly by voice recording them on my phone. This way they don’t get forgotten.

  5. Enjoy the powerful idea generation and smile (even when legs start to burn)

During my runs, I have come up with several new ideas, some of which turned out to be extremely powerful and useful for me. And that happens in just about 30 minutes.

Bring your ideas to life

Well, here comes the tricky part.

Just an idea recorded, remains just an idea if never tested and tried out.

So here is what you can do to bring your idea to life:

6. Keep a running idea generator journal

It can be simple and short. The main essence of it is to really not let any amazing idea slip away.

Try out below questions to get your ideas into reality faster than you actually thought.

- What were the main ideas that I captured today?

  • Idea 1:

  • Idea 2:

  • Idea 3:

- What will I/we gain by realizing this idea?

- How else can I build upon this idea?

- What is the first step I can make today, tomorrow to realize this idea?

- What do I need? Who do I need to involve?

Answer questions in any order you like, pick what fits best or add some questions that you believe fit better.

A couple of weeks later, check on the progress. That’s it!

And just a side note, you don’t need to become a runner. Hiking or other solo activities (swimming, indoor biking, walking) can do the trick just as well.

When do you generate your best ideas? Let me know, I would love to hear from you!

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