Sunday, August 9, 2015

Running to Music, no. Running to Historical Podcasts, yes.

I have never been a runner. Oh, I have tried. I ran laps for high school sports. I ran laps to try and lose weight as an adult. I'd piecemeal it together--run the straight aways on the track, walk the curves. Running never lasted--flat feet, cankles, and more than twenty years overweight--and running is really the last thing I ever really, truly, want to do.

Today, I jogged & walked four miles. I had never come close to putting that kind of distance together other than walking. 

Two things enabled me to reach that modest goal: 

  1. the Jeff Galloway training method of running intervals
    • in my case I am jogging for 30 seconds and walking for 45 seconds
    • I do these intervals for time (30 minutes) on Tuesdays and Thursdays and run the intervals for distance (4 miles today, 5 miles next Sunday) on Sundays
  2. I don't listen to music. I listen to podcasts.
    • the sameness of familiar music doesn't pull me in
    • the focus needed to follow someone reading or reciting new information sustains my attention and deflects any chance of my talking myself out of running
I imagine a majority of runners who listen to something listen to music. I am wondering about those runners who do not listen to music.

Other than music, what do runners listen to? Why? Do some prefer the silence? Their own thoughts? In what way does their auditory running partner of choice harness their attention as the podcasts do for me?

By the way, the podcasts are not just any old podcasts. Right now, the Revolutions podcast is my running partner. The podcast explores the world's major "Revolutions"--the overthrowing of major regimes: "The Late Troubles" in Britain in the 1640s and 1650s, the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the Haitian Revolution, etc.

I joined the podcast with the French Revolution since I finished reading Napoleon: A Life by Andrew Roberts a few weeks ago. Each episode lasts about twenty minutes. I like that it is a sustained, detailed, and fresh sound which is not music. As I jog, I can focus on the information and not play mind games with myself about my aches, strains, and doubts about distance. 

Music encourages my mind to wander. When running, I am finding that does not work for me because my mind wanders right back to what I am doing...and why am I doing it!

As I gear up for running my first half-marathon in November, I am planning on going back to the beginning of Revolutions and listen to podcaster Mike Duncan's take on the English Revolution ("The Late Troubles) which lasts about 509 minutes or just over 8 hours. 

No, I am not planning on taking that long to run the half marathon, but it will be nice to know that I'll have plenty of Revolution to pull me through the run...just in case.

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