Thoughts of a fake runner

Saturday, February 5, 2011

There is a lot of debate amongst runners about running with music or without. Okay, maybe not a lot of debate. I highly doubt this dilemma gets as much attention as nuclear weapons, health care, or the world's most important question- which came first, the chicken or the egg?
Still, I've discussed the topic on several occasions, seen people blog, gripe, criticize and promote the idea many times.
When I first started diving into running, I was 100% in the music while running camp. I honestly don't think I could have even survived without music while I ran those gruesome 2 minutes. Yeah, I was really hardcore at first.
When I trained for my first race back in November 2009, I ran with music. Even when I ran that 10k, I ran with music, until I made a new friend at about mile 3. For me, there has always been something so magical about what a song can do for me emotionally. It seems to be able to transport me into another dimension- the one where happiness seems endless. Combine that with adrenaline one gets from running, and I had a winning combination- as long as I put the right songs on my ipod. It seriously almost feels like cheating when I run with music. That's how much better I feel, like I've taken a magic "I can run forever" pill.
Fast forward to the beginning of last year. I began to really get into running and I had friends that wanted to run with me. At first, this idea threw me- freaked me out, actually. Compare it how you would feel if a friend said, "Hey, I'd really love to run with you this weekend, completely naked." Yeah, that's how I felt about running, with anyone, clothed. Nevertheless, I have a terrible time of saying no to people, which means I will do just about anything if it means a lot to someone- that probably includes running naked.
As I began to run with people, only occasionally, I knew I could not be that rude person who ran with music, while my running partner chatted about the date she had last night, the meaning of life and asked me thought provoking questions such as, which came first, the chicken or the egg. Granted, running without music didn't mean I could actually talk- I had absolutely no lung capacity for that; it was more about the listening. So, those were the only times I dared to run without tunes, but I began not to mind. In fact, I have turned into the person who asks friends to go running- who am I?!
As the year went on, and I ran more, there were times I actually ran without music. By myself. Of course, this was usually because 1. my ipod needed to be charged 2. my ipod was at work 3. I temporarily lost my ipod 4. my ipod needed to be charged. Are we sensing a pattern here?
At this point in my "running career" I generally skip the music on a short 25-30 minute run (can we pause for a sec and remember how cool it is to get to the point where one can say 25 minutes is a short run? Thank you for your cooperation.)
I bet you've been waiting for me to say I am now in the no music while running camp.
I still enjoy my music. I always will. Especially when I've just downloaded new music. I get obsessed. I constantly want to listen to the song, let it give me that adrenaline boost, and play it over and over. I have an obsessive personality, don't worry, I'm quite aware of this cumbersome, sometimes annoying, persoanlity trait.
I say all this to make the point that it doesn't matter what camp you're in. Run with music, great. Run without music, great too. I do think there is something awesome about the mental challenge you face on a long run, sans music. I also think it forces you to listen to your body and pay attention to the way the run makes you feel. But, if music pumps you up and gives you the will power to get out and run, in the words of Nike, do it.
This morning, I had the best run I've had in awhile. It incorporated all the bits and pieces I require to make a run noteworthy:
-The sun was out
-A breeze was blowing
-There were friendly people to smile at along the way
-The run was over 5 miles, 7 to be exact
-I felt strong
-I was challenged
-My legs feel like a bowl of jello
I have plenty of short, decent runs. But, on a great run, I'm left with a feeling of peace, accomplishment and true physical ability, for hours after the run is over.
Also, I listened to music the WHOLE time. I just made a new running mix and it seriously kicked ass. Below you'll find a few of the VIP tracks that made the playlist.
Someone once told me that real runners don't run to music. Yes, they actually said that, to my face, while I talked about how I like to run with music.
At the time, I was a very new runner and worried slightly about how my earphones, and ipod attached to my arm, would make me look to the running community. Then, I thought about how much music and running, together, made me feel, and I said F-U. (Like that great song, which is currently on my playlist.)
If running with music makes me a fake runner, then okay. I love being a fake runner. I've never had goals to run the Boston marathon, to be the fastest woman in a 5k; I actually never thought I'd be a person who ran 12 races in a year, so I will take the title of fake runner as I lace up my shoes, plug in my headphones, and press play on my mp3 player.
Word of caution- if you do run with music, please be smart. Turn the music down so you can hear traffic, bicyclists screaming at you, etc. If you can handle it, try to run with only one earbud in. "Real" runners may already hate us for daring to run with music, so let's be a respectful bunch of fakes.

VIP (Very Important Playlist)
There are currently 31 songs on my running mix. Here are a few that really keep me going when I'm crossing the one hill in Lincoln, dying for some water, or cramping up on mile 8.
"Uncharted", Sara Bareilles (from her new cd, which you should all own!)
"Marry Me", Glee Cast (I love Glee music. That may make me a fake lover of music. I can live with that.)
"Love Like Woe", The Ready Set (seriously my fav song right now)
"Piece of Me", Britney Spears (I grew up in the 90's, what can I say?)
"Sparks Fly", Taylor Swift (from her new cd- buy it!)
"This", Darius Rucker (makes me emo. Not that it's saying much. A lot of things make me emo)


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