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.