With much to ponder this morning, I decided to leave the iPod behind as I set out on my run. This may not seem like such a big deal, but it inspired trepidation as I double and triple checked to make sure I had what I needed before heading out the door. Inhaler- check; key- check; watch and running shoes- check and check. That’s it! Here we go … !
I rarely run without my iPod now because no matter how long I train, running is still painful, and I’ve found music to be some of the best medicine. I get lost in the pounding drums and great guitar riffs, timing my pace to match the driving rhythms of the rock music and forgetting how sore and tired I am.
This morning, however, I needed a different sort of therapy – that of solitude and the quietness of my thoughts. With nothing to distract me, I found myself listening to the birds waking up, the rhythm of my own heart beating, the timing of my breaths, and the pounding of my feet on the quickly warming pavement. The peace afforded time to pray, reflect and to let my mind wander, process, and problem-solve at the subconscious level while I focused on one thing: perseverance. I wasn’t sure how I would fare on the run without my melodic wonder drug, so I set what I thought were reasonable expectations – a simple three-mile run at a conservative pace to let my legs recover from running and swimming this past week. I wanted to prove to myself that I was mentally tough enough to make it through my run and even enjoy it, distraction-free, so I set a goal I was pretty sure I could accomplish.
Although I cannot claim to have had any epiphanies on this morning’s run, I discovered how empowering such a simple decision as running low-tech can be. Not only did I run the first three miles comfortably, but I added hills and another mile on top of it, bringing the total distance to 4 miles, only about a quarter of a mile shy of my long-run distance from the previous two weeks! And without breakfast, I might add! A new “normal” distance was established this morning, and I was more proud of that than any other run I’ve put in lately.
While I may not choose to run without my iPod every time, I will definitely do so more often and with more confidence. One more benefit: I was able to practice mindfulness during my run, enjoying a rediscovered awareness of my body as it moved through my surroundings. Despite the aches and stiff muscles through the first two miles, being fully present made me realize how grateful I was to be able to run at all for any distance. Instead of frustration over my limitations, I experienced a sense of freedom and intense gratitude for what my mind and body were able to accomplish when allowed to sync, sans technology.