I am not much into accessories when it comes to running.
A cap? I can do without it, particularly as it tends to trap my body heat trying to escape through my head.
A pair of sunglasses? Don’t need them, for they often slide down the bridge of my sweaty nose.
A Garmin watch? A fantastic gadget that often reminds me to kick up a gear, but is certainly not indispensable.
Hell, most times I don’t even bother with a shirt and that’s not even an accessory but an essential, especially for those unfortunate enough to come across me running half-naked.
However, there is a one companion that I ALWAYS run with – one who doesn’t try to talk to me, doesn’t need me to crouch down and re-tie its knot for the umpteenth time, and most definitely doesn’t require me to stop and wait for him to pee or scoop up his poo.
I am, of course, referring to my iPod-nano – a trusty running sidekick which has stood by me through rain, hail and shine, not to mention sweat, snot and sunstroke.
Last Sunday, I couldn’t find this sidekick, as I was getting ready go out for a long run in preparation for my upcoming marathon. I looked everywhere – the wardrobe, the gym bag, the shoe cupboard, even inside my wife’s intimate apparel drawers (don’t ask me why I looked in there)!
After wasting 10-15 minutes to no avail, I had no choice but to head out without my loyal running partner.
It was a dis-orientating experience.
The first 1 or 2km’s, I thought of nothing but my iPod-nano and how it just didn’t feel the same without my legs pumping in tandem with some music.
Then I spent the next 3 to 5 km’s thinking about some really silly stuff, such as: “Am I suppose to breathe out through my mouth like this?”, “Where should I position my tongue when I’m running?”, “Is it healthy to be running with two hamburgers sloshing around in my stomach?”.
After that, my mind really started to go to town with ridiculous thoughts, from wondering whether my arms were dangling too high and whether the scorching sun was going to burn a bald spot on my scalp, to “Will too much sweat into the eyes make me blind” and “How is it possible for those delicate ankle bones to withstand such horrendous pounding”?
Then, without me realising at the time, something strange happened.
Everything went quiet in my mind and I entered this zen-like state, thinking and hearing of absolutely nothing but my foot steps and my breathing.
THUD, THUD, THUD … PANT, PANT, PANT.
This went on for what must have been 5km or so, until I snapped out of it, most probably because I felt really thirsty and realised that I had run straight past all the water bubblers that I usually stop at to hydrate.
I have certainly been in a “zone” many times before. But this was completely different. This was some trance-like, Jedi-mind shit we’re talking about here – one that was induced, not by some moody tunes emanting from the iPod-nano, but by the sound of my body hypnotising my entire being!
Of course, as soon as I realised what had happened, the mental gibberish came rushing back and my mind resumed racing in all sorts of silly directions.
When I finally arrived back home, I put my jogging shoes away and headed to the fridge to get an icy can of Coke to cool down.
As I reached for the drink in the side compartment, sitting amongst the cans of soda minding its own business was none other than my dear iPod-nano!
Obviously, I absentmindedly put it there while retrieving a cold one after my run the previous day! The poor gadget seemed to be glaring back at me, as if saying: “Where the fuck have you been? I’ve freezing my ass off in here!“.
I’m beginning to lose it. However, thanks to that ailment, I discovered the peculiar peace of running with nothing but just myself.
And that was well worth freezing my running companion’s ass off, even if just for a day!
Keep on pounding.
So what will you do next time? Go for the tunes or the Jedi-mind shit? Both have their advantages!
I’ll play it by ear – Ha, you see what I just said there? Boy, I’m bloody funny!!!
Thanks for reading.
I always had run with headphones until 2 years ago. A friend of mine was offended that I would listen to music when we were running together. The only problem was, in a race, she would take off without me at about mile 3….and I was lef with my own thoughts. It wasn’t as bad as I thought. I enjoyed a different kind of race. However, I do always still take it if I run alone! 🙂
Often for me, the chance to listen to music in peace is the very reason that I go for a run!
I hate running without my ipod and I hate running to the wrong song. It just doesn’t feel right. In fact my ipod broke after I had run 15 minutes on the treadmill the other day and that was that. End of my exercise session for the day!!! (yes, wuss, I know…) Anyway, someone told me that breathing is half the battle with running… I’ve still gotta google/youtube search how to breathe whilst running and exercising.
Meanwhile, I heard that the more you focus on your breathing, the funnier you start to breathe. And then, after a while, you start having trouble remembering how to breathe normally, let alone while exercising!
I know. I also agree with you regarding “how is my tongue supposed to sit in my mouth”? line of thought. I have funny teeth and most of the time they are just there, doing their job, but sometimes I start to THINK about them and then they don’t seem to fit together so well when my mouth is closed… etc. etc…
You said you went into a Jedi-mind shit state after 5 km? I have so much to learn…as I went into a state after 2km where I jus kept on saying shit, shit, shit. Never reached Zen or Jedi or Zone, it was just too far…
By the way I also run/gym with music.
I’m not saying this to inspire you or any nonsense like that. When I first started running, I had trouble with very short distances too. Then for some reason I kept at it and it just got easier and more enjoyable. Then again, I can also see the joy of exercising in the gym.
I started running without music, then tried podcasts, then switched over to music. I like the music as a distraction so I don’t get all those “Are you doing this right?!?!” demon thoughts in my head. Eventually, though, I would like to go back to running without. There is something about the silence that calls me. ….also, the fact that you left your Nano in the icebox killed me. I could so see myself doing something like that!!
Yes I was enlightened to the joy of running without music. But there’s also nothing like inspiring a run with the help of 2pac or jamiroquai!
You really DO drink cold Cokes after your run! Way to rehydrate. I have to wear my cap to pull back my mane of curls, and sunglasses bc it’s Texas and hot as the dickens and blinding at 7am, but mostly I have to listen to my music to get a good pace going, so I can sing along and smile as the dumptrucks and eighteen wheelers pass by and honk and wave at me. So many songs have beats that are just too slow; you begin to have a playlist in your head of what helps you hit your stride. And did you by chance learn the meaning of life in that trance?
Didn’t I tell you the meaning of life already? Ok, here it is. The meaning of life is … Oh no, my iPad is running out of battery! Tell you next time!
LOL. So I just got back from jogging and realized (I only started doing it again regularly) that it’s hard to be ungrateful when you have eyes to see everything as you move, including a rising sun, and legs to propel you forward. Thousands are blind; thousands are in wheelchairs, but we are fortunate. Now I would like a Coke!
What does it say about me that I don’t think your “silly stuff ponderings” were silly at all.
Very cool how you did manage to zone for a while though. I wish I could do that. Hard to quiet this noggin of mine.
Give it time. Sooner or later, your mind will get so fatigued from jibbering that you will get that window of quietness. Then, depending on who you really are, your mind will re-jibber with a vengeance or it will just get entranced by the silence!
I don’t run (anymore) but I do walk and prefer the sounds of nature to music. But if I was running I think I’d be listening to my organs hurling abuse at me for the torture, and music might drown them out!
You know there is scientific evidence that music can drown out physical pain … until the music stops. Then all hell breaks loose!
I listen to books when I run. Sometimes I miss a lot of the books if I hit a zone, but mostly i find it helpful to listen to a story when my brain is telling me I can’t run another step.
Interesting! I may try that one day. Can I choose the voice? There is a couple of sultry actresses whose voices I can listen to all day, even if they were reading the back of a cereal box!
Lmao. I’m just imagining some chock reading erotic to you during a run. Motivation!
ok first of all…COKE after a long run?? EEEEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!
Second…my friend Eric, who is a Chi-Running instructor, tells me we shouldn’t run with music anyway…so that you do pay attention to your posture and your stride and all that stuff. Sometimes I listen….sometimes I don’t. I see the benefit in both to be honest, and probably prefer music when I’m running solo. Long runs I tend to do with company, thereby eliminated the need for music. Perhaps I’ll try a solo long run sans music…..but no coke. just ick. xo 🙂
Mmm, I take it you don’t like coke. Yes, it’s a terrible habit but it just tastes soooo great after a long run. Maybe It is I who need a chi running instructor to set me straight!
Oh I’ve been known to drink coke..usually mixed with rum..but after a run…noooooo! give me water! Oh and scrambled eggs lol. Thought of you on this mornings 5 am run….without music….didn’t get to that zen place, but the moon was lovely to run under 🙂 ( I’ll send you my Chi guy 🙂 …I’m sure he’ll love the trip hahah)
i have always run with music. To run really fast i’m getting the dubstep out and to jog along i’ll listen to slower calmer stuff but 2 weeks ago i started running with 2 ladies and i thought protocol would be NO Headphones. It wasn’t. They stuck theirs on and off they went. I was left with my thoughts and my heavy breathing and it was really REALLY strange. Like you i started to obsesss about my breathing and my pace and all sorts. But then, at about 3 km. it sort of felt really peaceful (and the nature around – was running around Lake varese) and this calm just descended on me and i managed to have the easiest long run i have ever had. It was strange. And the next time i went for a run i CHOSE to leave the headphones despite knowing there’d be no chatting and that the girls would have theirs. I may well continue….
But who knows.
You live in Italy? I’ve been to many countries but Italy has always been my favourite. Btw, my second son C? He certainly has the passion, the temper and the flamboyant personality of an italian!