There are many people who run to clear their minds. It can be a very zen-like experience. I remember that feeling well, getting in "the zone," mesmerized by the rhythm of your feet moving...but that was a long time ago for me when I was much younger. Starting over years and years later, running barefoot, trying to have correct form and avoid injury has made my runs anything but "mindless!" Instead, I find my mind constantly engaged, focusing on the terrain and my body to make sure I don't hurt myself. The entire time there is an internal conversation going something like this...
"Mind your posture. No slumping. Keep your core strong!"
"Careful with your stride...quicker and shorter."
"Drive your knees up a little more. No shuffling!"
"Quiet, gentle contact with the ground. No pounding!"
"Don't push so hard. This isn't a race."
"I know this feels good, but it's time to take a walk-break. Remember, you are in this for the long haul and don't want injuries."
"Stop worrying about what those people must think of you and your bare feet."
"Make an adjustment on your foot strike, I can feel some friction. No blisters allowed!"
"For goodness sake, smile! This is supposed to be fun, not work!"
Now let me say, I'm not complaining. I thoroughly enjoy my little runs. I am trying to accept it for what it is at this moment. Instead of bemoaning the fact that I can not skip out and run miles and miles effortlessly, I try to find joy in each step of my journey towards that goal. It is a great pleasure to get outside in nature, feel the various forms of ground (concrete, pavement, sand, mud, grass) under my feet, and work my muscles. Right now, running for me is anything but tuning out. It is much more a tuning IN. No distractions like an ipod or monitoring device checking my heart rate and time. No padded shoes to cushion and insulate my feet. Just me listening to my body and trying to experience and enjoy the world around me.