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The Sound of Music

February 7th, 2011

So I started running semi-regularly again after the better part of nine years off.  The act of running hasn’t changed much in nine years – it’s still simply “picking ‘em up and putting ‘em down” – but there are some major differences.  First and foremost – what’s with the headphones and running – especially when you’re running WITH someone?  Almost everyone is connected to some type of musical device.  I’ve even spotted groups of three and four – all running with headphones.  Apparently not only do runners not like to hear themselves think anymore – they don’t like to hear other people, either.  Call me old school, but there was no music in running, nine years ago – unless you were running in place in an aerobics class – or trying to work your biceps while running (Sony Walkmans were heavy).  Let me ask you this: If you’re going for a run with your buddies, why on earth would you show up with an iPod? 

Some of my best conversations with friends have come in the middle of a training run.  And if I’m running alone, the “sound of running” is my friend: the rhythmic thud of my feet on the ground, matched in time by my breathing, the chirps of birds, the rattle of wind-blown leaves in the fall, the angry honks from bitter car drivers, the nasty remarks yelled from car windows and front porches, and others.  The sounds aren’t all pleasant, yet they’re all music to my ears when I’m running. 

Running frees the mind.  It’s amazing how refreshed and recharged one can be after a run if the mind is free to “associate” and reconcile conflicts and issues.  Music, on the other hand, is distracting.  As I type, I’m having trouble getting the song “My Sharona” out of my head – and it’s been at least ten years since I’ve heard that song on the radio. 
And how about this – I ran in the Phoenix Rock and Roll Half Marathon.  I line up on the starting line with 30,000 of my closest friends.  By my best estimate, 20,000 of them had on headphones.  What part of Rock and Roll did they not get?  What part of “Live music every mile” did they fail to understand?  Can that many runners truly not run without music for time it takes them to get from one mile to the next?  I guess it’s not a huge deal – it’s just something that I don’t understand. 
Before writing this, and at my wife’s insistence (she runs with music), I borrowed her iPod for a couple of runs to see what the hubbub was about and so that people wouldn’t call me a close-minded old fart because of my current feelings on running with headphones. 

I think my wife tried to hypnotize me through the song selection on her iPod.  By the time my usual four-mile run was over, I got lost twice, and learned: that women roar, how to say “99 red balloons” in German (I think),  that Tori Amos writes some very nasty songs, that for an ugly guy – Dave Matthews probably scores lots of chics, that Gloria Estefan still sucks, that Jack Johnson is in touch with his feminine side, and that Melissa Etheridge is in touch with her feminine side.  And one other thing – it may have been sweat, but I think I cried a little during Sarah McLachlan’s “I Will Remember You.”

There’s no crying in running.  Need I say more?

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