Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Rock & Run

When I trained for my first two marathons (Chicago, 1999 and 2000), I participated in a virtual training forum. Inevitably, someone would make a post inquiring about wearing headphones and would promptly get flamed by the self-satisfied running purists.

Wearing headphones is a personal choice. I believe in maintaining situational awareness, but I also like having the company, the background noise, the inspiration that can come from my own personal sound track. If you keep them at a low volume or only use one ear bud, a walkman can serve the functions of coach, rival, and fan.

Walkman as Coach. I like to make mix tapes for 5-K and 10-K races. I time the songs, figure out my goal pace and determine what I should be hearing when I hit a certain point in the race. It's a fun way to make sure I hit my splits.

Walkman as Rival. Last week, I was plodding around on the indoor track. I was having an okay run, not a great run though. One kid, she must have been about 14 or 15, kept gliding past me like I wasn't even moving. I envied her easy, long stride and got really sick of looking at her bobbing ponytail, but I didn't think I could catch her. I have a crappy radio right now that I use on runs and I ended up on the hard rock station, just as they started the Guns and Roses song "Welcome to the Jungle". The driving beat, screechy lyrics and overall pump-you-up tenor of it drove me in a way I can't entirely explain. The song made me push myself to keep up with it, the way a good rival can. The result? I totally iced the teenager on two laps.

Walkman as Fan. For the ordinary exerciser, you're never going to have hundreds of people cheering for you. You're never going to get lifted up by the crowd and carried along on their momentum. There is no "Tenth Man" in running, there's not even a "Second Man". Usually, there's just you. But sometimes a song can serve the function of a fan. It can make you feel better, encouraged, happy, and special. The more upbeat U2 songs do this for me - "Vertigo" and "Beautiful Day" are probably my favorite fan songs.

Let the running purists trundle on with only their footfalls for comfort. Me? I'm saving my pennies for an IPod Shuffle and I'm looking forward to using it during the marathon. Song suggestions are welcome.


At 10 February 2005 at 06:15, Blogger Lex Fori said...

When I used to run a lot, I remember having the headphones/anti-headphones conversation with my brother. He used to slam me all the time, telling me it was all about the rhythm of my own feet and blah blah blah, but I am with you on the personal choice. On my playlist, towards the end, for that last spurt of energized running, I listened to M1A1 by Gorrilaz. Good stuff. I'd love to see a playlist posting when you finalize yours =)

Best of luck in your trainings, and thanks so much for being the first poster over at my blog!

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