Athletics Magazine

Associative Versus Disassociative Running

By Nicoleao @momfever

I suppose I’m a disassociative runner, because I have to keep my mind from noticing what my body is doing.

Otherwise it would immediately grind me to a halt, on the grounds of ‘I don’t wanna get sweaty’. So what I do is this: I throw my mind a bone to chew on, in the form of Country and Western music. While my body is running, my mind is listening to sad stories about orphans and coats of many colors.

Associative and disassociative running explained

Tim Noakes writes about associative and disassociative running in Lore of Running, 4th Edition. He defines them as ‘when running, either think about everything but what you are doing (disassociation) or concentrate purely on the activity and how your body feels as you run (association).’

I found it very interesting that according to Tim Noakes novice runners are better off disassociating! Because as soon as they start associating, and thinking about their running and how their bodies are hurting, they wanna stop! On the other hand: competitive runners are better off associating!

How to disassociate?

To take your mind off of running you can play it some music, like I do. Or you could run with someone else, so you two can talk while running. Taking a new route will also help.

How to associate?

Let’s say you want to keep your mind on your body, but your mind is behaving like a two year old, constantly wandering off. All you have to do is run faster! That’ll get your mind’s attention! There’s nothing like a lack of oxygen and gasping for breath to get it to focus on your body.

What kind of runner are you: an associative runner or are you more of a disassociative runner?

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