Try this on your next trail run, jog through the park, or jaunt around the lake:
Run au natural. Take the ear buds out.
I began jogging mainly to stay in shape for rugby season while in college. During these beginning experiments with jogging I relied on my iPod. It is the whole reason I was able to withstand the monotonous (and painful) three miles around an Iowa City neighborhood. I would throw on beats and tell myself “don’t think about how much your legs hurt or how trying to breathe right now is a challenge or how much this sucks!”
The music helped. It numbed me. It allowed me to think about anything other than “oh $#%#$#$ this %#$^# hurts like a son of a #@!#%!”
After a few months, I became bored of music. Listening to the same playlists over and over again began to make running boring. I feared that if running became dull, I would just stop completely and therefore lose the easiest way to stay in shape. Then I discovered podcasts. Oh sweet beautiful podcasts! I began listening to them every time I ran. These free internet radio shows allowed me to listen to a different conversation and learn brand new things every single day. Running could never be monotonous again!
I continue listening to podcasts while running to this day. Some days I even “save” podcasts for specific training runs. I refuse to listen to them during the week until I’m ready for my long run. It is a trick I use to stay faithful to my routine and is especially helpful for those days when I feel like crap and need extra inspiration (we all have them!).
Now that I have discovered trail running or as I like to call it “running through the woods like a bigfoot” (hey that’s the name of this website!), I understand the pleasure of putting away the technology and I have begun to not frequently rely on my iPod.
Here are some things I have learned about putting away the headphones:
You will not get bored.
Trail running requires so much attention and focus to how your body is moving in the present moment that your iPod could distract you (this is one of the reasons why I suggest beginners to run iPod naked). If you lose this focus you will step on a rock, trip over a root, or tumble down a hill. Your mind can be engaged in other things like “how do I stay upright” or “how do I not face plant” that you don’t need your iPod to entertain you.
Nature sounds awesome.
When was the last time you went out into the woods and just listened? The chirping of the birds, scurrying of the squirrels and rustling of the leaves are amazing sounds we tend to zone out in our current bustling lifestyles. Quiet running gives you access to the pleasure of hearing the environment again.
You want quiet when running somewhere new!
If you are traveling or just running a route you have never ran before, your main objective should be to experience the beauty of this new land. You DO NOT want to be numb to this experience. Music or podcasts will numb you when you want to hear the sounds, smell the smelss, and touch the earth in this new place. Running while traveling is one of my favorite things in the world and the quiet helps me be completely mindful of my surroundings.