Running Without Music

Recently, I wrote my first guest post for a fabulous blog, A Hell of A Woman, about running and pre-eclampsia. Since I wrote it, I’ve been feeling a bit of a fraud, considering that I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been out for a run in recent months. I can give you lots of reasons why, from lack of time to sore feet, but the overwhelming reason is my sheer bloody laziness.

Having written it, and sent it flying through the ether where I cannot change a word of it, I have taken the other option. That of starting running again, so that I’m not a liar who writes about running whilst sitting on the sofa drinking tea. I’ve been twice this week, and although I’m obviously a lot less fit than the last time I ran, I’ve enjoyed myself more than I anticipated. It’s made me want to try harder to find the time to run and to beat my own excuses for not doing exercise. I struggle with running, because I do have plantar fasciitis, which gives me a shooting pain up into my foot each time I land, but it’s being managed by physio and, if I’m honest with myself about it, it’s far easier to manage when I’m slimmer and fitter.

When I run outside, I always use my Ipod (safely; off road, in public and during the day, before you start tutting at me) to keep me going. Sadly, this was inside the bag that I had stolen recently, and although I received insurance compensation, I ended up spending my new iPod money on ballet lessons for my daughter. So I’ve earned myself much-coveted ‘Good Mummy’ brownie points, but I’ve had no music.

I never thought that I was much of a music fan. Certainly I barely know what is going on in music these days, either the ‘X Factor’ stuff or the cool, indie underground so-new-no-one-knows-about-them bands. Most of the time I end up listening to Radio 2, or whatever the kids want to listen to, a mix of Disney and LMFAO which is enough to make your ears bleed! For a brief period many years ago, I had a deeper fascination with music. I’m talking a LONG time ago, back when I used to buy Smash Hits to memorise the lyrics and try to tape the Top 40 countdown without getting any of the DJ talking at the end of each track. That took plenty of dedication and swift ‘press the pause button’ responses, I can tell you. I doubt I’d have such lightening fast reactions these days.

I’ve realised though, since losing my iPod, that I listen to music far more often than I’d realised and so I do need to replace it. I miss music, in my own middle-of-the road not very cool kind of way. (Perhaps I am cool though, those eighties and early nineties Smash Hits have left me able to sing along to almost any song from that period, which drives my husband up the wall!)

The one thing I thought I needed music for, above anything else, was for exercise. I listen to the kind of dance and pop music that my daughter loves, because the tempo is better. Also, I do love pop music, I cannot continue to pretend otherwise. (Ok, I’m not cool. I know that really…)

I run off road, and so don’t suffer from the kind of ‘ Run, Forrest, Run!’ type comments that people who run on the roads often have to contend with. However, being able to block out even that possibility was one of the reasons I’ve always worn headphones when I’m running alone. In company, it’s a bit different. I’m usually running with, or more accurately, behind, my husband then and busy concentrating all my energies on swearing at him to bloody slow down.

I’ve realised a few things when out running this week. Firstly, not listening to music meant I was listening to birdsong instead. This was actually really lovely and made me feel more a part of the environment I was running through, which was a truly positive feeling and one of the ace things about being outside and not in a gym. When I’m out with my husband, we chat, when I can breathe enough anyway, so I never really listen to the birds.

Unfortunately, I also realised that I talk to myself a lot when I’m running. On my run yesterday, it started off with the odd ‘come on’ whisper when I was struggling a bit. But when I was reaching the top of a horrible hill, there were distinct Incredible Hulk noises coming from somewhere deep inside me, until I reached the top and keeled over heaving, like an out of condition racehorse.

I was a bit shocked to hear myself so now I’m wondering if I always make these noises? Am I blithely running about with my headphones in, grunting all over Temple Newsam? Do I sing aloud? Dear God – can other people hear me?

So, I have decided, that lovely though the birdsong was, it is definitely time to invest in a new iPod. Maybe when I’m out running with my husband, I will try to listen to the birds. Running alone without music is a bit like being a character in a film with no soundtrack and that soundtrack needs to come back. I may be grunting, singing and heaving on the outside, but in my head I’m Rocky Balboa, listening to ‘Eye of the Tiger’ and feeling like a champion…

4 Responses to Running Without Music

  1. Up until the last week, I’ve been (indoors) running with the radio on as background music but the other night, the music being played by the DJ’s was really annoying me (too much double bass drum and screamy male singers) so I switched it off…….and that’s when I realised I also talk to myself when I’m running! In a similar vein to you, it seems to be lots of “come on” and “only 90 more seconds” and “you can do this” but I’m fully expecting the grunts to start as this week’s C25K plan involves a lot more running than I’ve ever done in my life!

    On a slight tangent, I did find myself composing a “what to do if a zombie bursts into your garage while you’re running on the treadmill” strategy on Friday night. My brain much preferred being distracted by “what can I use as a weapon” thoughts rather than “oh my god, I’ve still got another 3 minutes to run before I can start walking again” thoughts!

  2. Pingback: Leeds today: shipwreck, altruism, hospital staff, running, poverty twitnic, and anthems. | Beyond Guardian Leeds

  3. I’ve never run with music on – originally for safety as I run on my own (much harder to be surprised by someone without headphones on) but now I love feeling part of the environment – bird song, train noises in the distance, trees creaking etc

    • I know what you mean, I do like listening to the environment and I love to run outside. Perhaps if/when I get fitter, there might be less huffing and puffing from me, and I’ll be able to concentrate more on the birds 🙂

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