Summer is officially in full swing. If you are active, you have likely been enjoying the warmer weather and sunshine by lacing up and hitting the pavement. Competitive runners have already participated in one or two events by this time of year. I know I have seen the roads much more popular around my neighborhood. Most mornings I can be found among them, running to feel a bit healthier, more energetic, and disciplined.
For many, preparing for a run includes more than just slipping into polyester/spandex clothes and lacing up the old “tennies.” My personal routine includes strapping on a music player, headphones, GPS watch, and a foot pod in case I trek into some trees and lose satellite tracking. On the road I see others with armbands holding their smartphone, speaking into the in-line mic in their headphone cord. I look at them and think, ‘Just leave the phone at home and enjoy the run!’
The other day, I broke my routine and went trail running in a forest nearby. I couldn’t find my foot pod and my GPS watch had no charge. I clipped on my music player, inserted my ear buds, and hit the trail. I hadn’t made it very far before a chirping interrupted my music. It happened every so often and sounded almost like the sound a CD player makes when the disc is dirty and tries to spin. The chirping got louder and softer with varying frequency. I paused the music player and restarted it. The chirping was still happening.
I removed the ear buds from my ears, relinquished to suffer without music – a beat to keep my pace. I immediately heard the chirping again, but this time realizing that it was coming from the trees above me, to my sides, behind and in front. I saw robins perched on branches, a lark bouncing across the trail, and many other birds I couldn’t recognize. I realized that my music had been the sound interrupting nature, not the other way around.
I continued my run, without music, without GPS, without computerized technology. I ended up enjoying this run more than any in recent memory. I don’t know what pace I ran or exactly how far (though I was able to get a good idea from trail signs). I do know that my step felt quicker, my mind felt more alert, and my heart more satisfied. I enjoyed listening to the residents of the forest, watching the trail meander, and hearing the sound of my breathing sync with the sound of my footstep. I will likely keep my GPS watch and music player on when training for a race, but will now incorporate “natural” runs into my schedule more, where I leave all technology behind and pay attention to the moment.