Finally over my miserable cold, I was so happy to start running again this week. Going through my usual running checklist, I pulled on my running kit, laced up my running shoes, strapped on my Garmin, and.....that was it. That's right, no iPod.
It's a secret I've been keeping for a while actually. Once my absolute running necessity, I randomly stopped using it while training for the Dublin Half. I can't remember what triggered it exactly....I probably just didn't have it with me one day when I needed to run. And to my surprise, I liked running without it!
This is a far cry from a few years ago, when I really believed I couldn't run without music. In fact, when I ran the Brighton Half a few years ago...I was getting ready the morning of the race when I realized I didn't have my iPod. I had never trained or run a race without it, and I panicked. Luckily my husband has his iPod with him and let me use his. Now, I have to say that we have COMPLETELY different tastes in music and under normal circumstances I wouldn't listen to any of his playlists! But I really thought that having some music was better than no music at all.
One of my running buddies said she felt bored when she ran without music. But for me....after running iPod free for a run or two, I just stopped using it altogether. I didn't use it on any of my long runs OR when I ran the Dublin Half. When I recently ran my longest run ever--15 miles--I didn't have my iPod, either. And I didn't feel bored for a single minute!
I found that when I run without my iPod, it's almost like I have room to think. I have room to focus. I can think about every single step. My rhythm, my breathing. I can talk to myself about staying relaxed, getting into the flow. Of course, my mind still wanders but then I can refocus--talking to myself, encouraging myself, cheering myself on.
Now, I'm not saying I won't run with my iPod ever again. I've read countless articles about how listening to music can improve performance or reduce the perception of fatigue. And as I try to increase my running cadence, I will probably use music to help me get to that magic 180 steps per minute.
But I'm sure that for most runs--even as my mileage continues to increase--I won't use my iPod at all. I don't need it any more, because now I just listen to the sounds of the city, the sea, and my own thoughts. I am free.