I’ve always been a runner attached to my distractions. As long as I can remember I’ve always ran with some sort of music device, be it a MiniDisc player back in the early 2000’s (does anyone remember those?) or my iPod Nano for the last 5 years or so. I remember thinking that if I didn’t have something to listen to – something to take my mind off the ‘monotony’ of running – I would get bored, or become too aware of how I was pushing my body and give up.
On Monday of this week I read a post on Sub-Three (titled Prefontaine’s Garmin) that made me rethink this perspective. He’d originally started running the opposite way I had, unencumbered by equipment, just running and enjoying the “simplicity of the sport.” But over time he built up a pile of gear, as he trained and raced, getting away from the pure simplicity he loved. This brought him (or her, couldn’t find any gender pronouns) to thinking about
Prefontaine’s Garmin…. He didn’t have one, of course. Pre ran in a cotton shirt or singlet, a ball cap and a pair of runners. He didn’t have an iPhone strapped to his arm or a sweat-wicking tech shirt or any of that.
No, what Pre had was heart.
Lots of it.
And guts. He ran with fortitude, mental toughness and focus.
That bit really spoke to me, maybe I don’t always need my gadgets when I run. Since I was already starting something new this week, adding a 2nd run to 3 of my weekdays, I figured there was no harm in trying one of those new runs without gadgets.
I get home from the day job on Monday afternoon/evening, get changed and leave my iPod on my desk, but my Garmin (a Forerunner 405) calls out to me: “Geb…Geb…Don’t leave me, think of all the running statistics you’ll miss out on, how will you know how far or how fast you’ve gone? Why are you personifying a watch?” and so on. I’m confident I can do 3 miles without the aid of podcasting, but how will I manage without stat tracking? I decide to make a compromise with myself, I can take the watch, but once I confirm it’s got a GPS lock and hit start on the timer, it is going in my pocket, and I cannot look at it until I get home. I step outside, and off I go!
At first it’s a little weird, it seems so quiet without Peter Sagal, Ira Flatow, Click and Clack(the “Tappet Brothers”), The Nerdist Guys, or Ira Glass(just to name a few of the podcasts that help me pass the miles alone), but soon I realize it’s not quiet at all. Instead the sound of my footfalls and my breathing becomes my companion, and I love it! I don’t think I’m ever as aware of my body, or my surroundings as I was on this run. I hear birds singing the songs of spring, I see the way the sunlight plays though the leaves as I run through the park. As I pass groups of people I catch little snippets of conversation and get a tiny window into their world, and begin writing their life stories in my head (an actor/writers immediate reaction to strangers).
Hilarity ensues when I go around the weird volcano fountain at Cal Anderson Park as I pass some hipster teens and hear “Dude, is there a monster chasing you? There better be a monster, cause why else are you running?” I’m running because it makes me feel great, I’m running because it helps keep my body in tune, most of all I’m running because I love it!
I don’t need some T-rex to chase me, nor do I need a distraction to keep me going, I’m doing what we were designed to do, I’m running. Now, my morning and long runs are the only down time I really have to listen to podcasts, and I like being able to glance down at my watch and get an idea of my pace so I’m not going gadget free all the time. What I am doing is making sure that on at least one of my runs each week (this week it was all 3) I put aside technology and run in my community, not just through it, and I’d suggest you do the same. You’ll be a better (and probably more joyous) runner for it.