The silence of running

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Last night was a running "first" for me. I ran for the very first time without music ...

... on purpose.

If you know me or anything about my running habits, you're well aware that listening to music during my workouts is a key motivational factor. Despite what naysayers might think, uptempo music does put an extra bounce of my step and I do run faster as a result. I could run for literally hours if I have enough Britney and Glee to get me through. Getting lost in a good song helps me power through a long, boring run and honestly, the idea of running with nothing but the sound of my labored breathing freaks me out. And being alone with my thoughts? That's a recipe for disaster.

As difficult as it was, I didn't even bring my iPod with me. Having it in the car would prove to be nothing but a temptation. I left it at home and despite a few panicky moments of "I can just turn around and grab it real quick", I forced myself to drive to the trail sans music player.

As I stretched my stiff, agonizingly sore muscles (The 100 Workout was BRUTAL to my lower body) and prepared to run, anxiety crept into my chest. I knew I was being ridiculous, but what if I couldn't run more than a mile without music? What if I got too bored? Would I just quit? What if hearing my body run caused me to discover there's something wrong with my form? What would I think about?

Not wanting to waste anymore time riding the merry-go-round of "what ifs", I hit "start" on my Garmin and took off. I have the wonderful ability of psyching myself out over absolutely nothing and the sooner I just got this run over with, the better.

During the first few steps, my heartbeat accelerated far too quickly and I realized I was panicking. I focused on a bunny scampering in a grassy patch ahead of me and tried to calm myself down.

Miraculously, it worked.

I started thinking about bunnies and all of the other woodland creatures I'd encountered on previous runs and before I even realized it, my stream of consciousness carried my thoughts far away. Next thing I knew, I was already 1 mile into my workout and feeling great.

Thanks to Speedy, my watch, I have the freedom to roam wherever I please, and I took the opportunity to explore a few new routes in the area. Running with a legitimate GPS watch led me to the painful discovery that my pace is slower than I previously believed, but I honestly haven't mourned the loss of speed as much as I thought I would. Fast or slow, being outside pounding pavement for hours every week is the best gift I could ever give myself as a runner.

The only part of running without music that I'm not too keen on is the unfortunate discovery on my noisy armpits.

I think I need arm liposuction.

I don't know if it always sounds like that when I run (and if it does, dear goodness, I apologize to everyone who's ever run next to me) or if it was the cut of my shirt or if I was just particularly sweaty last night, but the sound of my arm fat hitting against the side of my body sounded like ...

... farts.

While I was running down the street, I sounded like a one-woman band which each "flap flap flap!" of my arms.

At first I started to laugh because come on, farts. ...  Then the reality of how disgusting I am started to set in, and I was ashamed.

But all noisemakers aside, I ended up having an incredibly enjoyable 5 mile run. I took in the sites and sounds of the woods nearby, I was more aware of vehicles on the road, and I got lots of quality time with me. I've heard the saying that running better than therapy, and last night's run proved that theory to be true. I actually finished my run feeling more relaxed than usual because I got all of my worries and fears and frustrations off my chest and left them on the road behind me.

Will I tackle a long run training run without music? Probably not. But will I make it a point to "accidentally" leave my iPod behind a few times a week? Absolutely.

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