Changing My Tune

Ask a group of runners how they feel about listening to music on a run, and you’re likely to start a debate of massive proportions. Those who run with iPods can’t fathom how people run in silence as much as those who run without them can’t understand how or why you would wear an iPod on a run.

I’ve always fallen in the anti-music camp for several reasons. To name a few:

  • When I first started running, I always ran in a group, so I wanted to enjoy their company. I see no reason to go through the trouble of joining a running group or scheduling a group run only to plug yourself into an iPod or MP3 player.
  • Because I ‘learned’ to run sans earbuds, I grew accustomed to not having anything in my ears. Now, it feels weird and drives me crazy.
  • I think iPods are a safety hazard. If you crank up the music, like so many do, you can’t hear the people around you — much less the cars and cyclists who may also be on the road.
  • I enjoy the meditation of running alone. This is my time to sort out problems, get creative inspiration, or enjoy a rare hour of silence.

Until now . . . In the past week, I’ve had at least two runs during which I would have killed for some tunes.

It all started in Chicago last week when I ran 8 grueling miles on a treadmill. I began the run, as always, in silence. Two miles later, I caved in, grabbed a pair of headphones, hooked myself up to the fancy TV screen, and found MTV and VH1. Aside from the annoying cords dangling in front of me, I actually enjoyed having the music. It was kind of motivating and, if nothing else, gave me something else think about — What in the world is she wearing? What the heck does this video have to do with the lyrics? For heavens sake, please use your inside voice rather than torturing those around you with your best Christina Perri imitation.

Then, last Saturday, we had our second lactate threshold test. Because I’ve already gone on and on about how this speedy test works, I won’t repeat the details here, except to say that running as hard as you can for 30 minutes feels like eternity. I lost count of how many times I wanted to quit. I couldn’t find seem to find any positive thoughts or inspiration to channel that would help me pick up the pace. Boy, could I have used a music boost that day!

Then, again today, I struggled. We started with a 3-mile warm-up and then ran 4 miles in HR Zone 3 (basically marathon pace). I was still reeling from a whole host of stressful events that have occurred over the past few weeks, and while my busy head certainly helped the miles fly by, it didn’t do much to keep my heart rate in check. What I discovered on this run is that sometimes I would prefer not to be alone with my thoughts. Sometimes it would be better to have a distraction than to continue spinning my wheels about things that I cannot control or problems that may just need to marinate for a while. By mile 5, I decided that music was in order, so I turned the radio station in my head to Ke$ha, P!nk, and a few others who helped me get through the last 4 miles. (Embarrassing choices, I know. Because I was having a high HR day, I spent most of the run alone. This turned out to be a good thing because I’m pretty sure that I slipped out of my inside voice a few times and, really, no one needs to hear that!)

So … While I still think that running plugged into an iPod presents some safety issues, I may have to dust off my shuffle and give it another chance. But, I promise to keep the music turned down so that I remain aware of my surroundings.

Mark this day in history :: This is the day that I became a runner who appreciates a soundtrack.

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About Beth

Wife, daughter, big sis, aunt, friend, attorney, runner, cyclist, amateur chef & aspiring photographer. Thanks for keeping up with my life on the run!
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