A few days ago while plodding round a 10k I tried something strange and new. No, not that – the judge was quite specific when he said I wasn’t to do that again anytime soon, and certainly not within 100m of a garden centre. No, what I did was run with music.
I decided against a one man band set-up, as the bass drum weighed around 15kg, the knee-cymbals chafed when worn with running shorts and the trombone would have kept knocking people off their bikes. Oh, and it would have been f***ing stupid*. Instead I opted for my trusty iPod, sliding it into a compartment of my definitely-not-a-bumbag before setting off on my run.
Way back when I first took my baby-steps into running** I briefly tried listening to music while dragging myself up and down the road near my house, but I never really got on with it. In hindsight, this was largely due to the fact that I could barely get halfway through one song before collapsing in a sweaty groaning mess on the pavement.
Back then, I found that the music was distracting me at a time when I felt that I really needed to concentrate on what I was doing. Also, as I was primarily running in built-up areas I was conscious of the danger of not being able to hear approaching cars, muggers and rabid urban foxes on my travels. So after a handful of musical runs I decided to ditch the MP3 player and just run to the accompaniment of my own laboured wheezing, surprisingly tuneful though it may be.
And there I left it for several months until last week, when I decided to give it another go. I’m not entirely sure what prompted this; maybe I saw it as something that would distract me from the feelings of clunkiness (real word) that I sometimes get on the first bit of my runs, before I settle into a steady pace and start to properly enjoy it. The more observant among you will have noticed that I only just mentioned that I saw being distracted while running as a bad thing, but that was back when it required a massive amount of concentration on my part just to put one foot in front of the other and repeat. Since then I’ve found that while running, and certainly during the aforementioned clunky phase, it’s my mind that’s screaming at me “Please stop. This is hard work and I don’t like it” long before my body even begins to grumble in the slightest, and it’s my body that tells the truth in these matters. Therefore a bit of distraction is now a good thing, and lets my body get on with the important business of running.
So I set off on my 10k route, with “James Last’s Panpipe Troubadours present the very best of Metallica, volume 7”*** humming in my ears. One of the curious things I noticed as I ran was that the earphones seemed to actually stay in my ears, unlike my earlier attempts all those months ago when I was forever having to pop them back in my sweaty lugholes. At last I can say that after all these torturous months of running I’m finally starting to see results – Okay, so my six-pack remains more of a keg and I’m still as slow as a panda made entirely of treacle, but at least I seem to have developed muscle-bound ears that have a grip of iron.
Now would be an opportune moment to start telling you all about my running playlist, but you’d all just laugh so I won’t. And anyway, it’s a well known fact that Paula Radcliffe listens to the Wurzels before every race too.
*** these don’t indicate a footnote, it just means I was being a bit sweary.
…Actually, now they DO indicate a footnote. Ignore me.
*Although having said that, given the popularity of wombles, three-legged-racers and the plethora of other novelty fund-raising costumes seen in marathons, it wouldn’t surprise me if there were several one-man bands at any given event. Whole platoons of them, all running faster over 26.2 miles than I do on a 5k, and while treating the other runners to a jaunty rendition of Hi Ho Silver Lining.
**Okay, baby-elephant steps.