I used to be a low tech runner. Past tense. Then my husband bought me an adorable little iPod shuffle. Sound familiar? Roadrunner (that’s the name of my shuffle) is racing-stripe red and holds a playlist that took me months of trial and error to perfect.
Much as I love Roadrunner, I don’t want to become a runner that can only run with music. My Garmin dependency is enough in the way of gear addiction. So, I’ve developed a set of Roadrunner Rules to which I strictly adhere:
- Music is for solo running only. Yes, that means if even one other person* joins me on my run the Roadrunner stays home (*to whom I’m not married).
- No music during high intensity running (like tempo runs, hills, speed intervals).
- No music on runs less than 16 km.
- No music during races. Except as a backup when the going gets tough.
I’ve only had to invoke the Rule 4 exemption twice. The first time was during a 30K race in August when the timing (evening run) and heat (I’m part penguin) turned me into an icky gooey mess. For the first time ever I contemplated a DNF. At one point I looked at the benches along the route and quite rationally thought it would be a good idea to plop down until someone I knew ran by, at which point I would easily get up (in theory) and run to the finish with them. Like the Hare who lost to the Tortoise, just a little nap along the way. That day those earbuds were in at kilometer 8. That’s also the day I threw up at the finish line. The second time was during a 50K ultramarathon in 32C weather in June (before summer acclimatizing was complete) with a gorgeous blazing hot sun relentlessly beaming down on me. With the aid of many ice cubes down my top, shorts, and anywhere else I could fit them I lasted until about 43K before numbing the pain and ignoring the delirium with music.
Following the rules means that I typically only listen to music on solo endurance runs. BF (before roadrunner) I thought that the music would mess up my rhythm and take away from the experiential aspects of my long runs, but as it turns out I’m not bothered much by the beat (it certainly helps that I usually can’t find the beat anyway). But I’m all about the lyrics. Sometimes I tune in to the music, sometimes the music is background noise to the thoughts in my head, and sometimes the music and the thoughts in my head mingle. And when I really, really need it, that racing-stripe red music box is a life-saving (I exaggerate, make that a run-saving) distraction device.