On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Me Against the Music

First off...
So, Kara Goucher had her son, Colton Mirko Goucher, on the 26th.

And then Paula Radcliffe had her son, Raphael, today.

You know what that means...



I don't run with music.  I've tried, and I find that not only do I not feel comfortable with headphones in (because I can't fully hear my surroundings), but the music takes me away from the run.  I find myself concentrating on the music rather than the run.  I know a lot of people like the distraction, but I like letting my run create its own rhythm.  Does that sound cheesey?  Probably, but it's true.

I wear something exactly like this when I run.
The snake helps tone my arms. 
Often that rhythm is negative, frankly: "This sucks, this sucks, this sucks, go home, go home, go home," etc.  But sometimes it's nice to just be out there.  Taking it all in - my body, the air, the people around me, everything.  Now I'm getting very yogic.  Again - it's true!  I'm not someone who thinks deep thoughts when I run, at least not any deeper than what I'm going to eat when I get in from running.

Sometimes, though, a song gets stuck in my run.  Not in my head, mind you, it's not an earworm (I had to bring that up - a friend of mine wrote that article).  But it gets stuck in my run.  I'll be running, and all of a sudden I'll realize that for the past quarter of a mile or so I've had the same song going through my head.  It's usually catchy, annoying, and something that I don't know all the words to.  So, over and over again, I'll be hearing, "All my single ladies! Put your hands up! Up!" And repeat.  Or Britney.  Or Miley.  Lots of Britney.  Or, at its worst for nearly a full lap during the 18m tune up race, the "Baby Monkey Riding on a Pig" song.  In step with my cadence, a line or two from the song will be repeated.

Does this happen to anyone else?  Am I a crackpot?  I'm trying to switch to listening to NPR during my long(er) runs to pretend like I'm intellectual, but I end up feeling pretentious and frustrated at how monotone they are.


  1. I don't run with music, but once in a while I try. Then once in a blue moon a song "clicks" and I keep putting that on repeat until the end of the run.

    But if I was running without music with just a song stuck in my head, I'd get crazy. I hate getting songs stuck in my head, imagine when I run?

    Oh gosh, this is totally going to happen to me in my next run, isn't it?

  2. I run with music, books and podcasts, depending on mood.

    On the NPR front, have you ever listened to Wait Wait Don't Tell Me? It's NPR but funny.

  3. I'm one of those 'I need music' runners. However...on last weekend's 10K I was late getting to the start line...you guessed it: Forgot. Ipod. Lesson learned: I am able to run without music. Doesn't slow me down. But I do get cranky...and won't hide it. ;)

  4. I run with podcasts. Sometimes fun ones, sometimes the weekend business review from the New York Times. If you are anti-monotone, I highly recommend the Savage Lovecast by Dan Savage, as long as you are not offended by copious use of the f-bomb and discussion of godless sex acts. I hope that wasn't offensive.

    But, yes, I have had the experience of song repetition. When I aquajog, I can't listen to music, so I'm usually stuck with the last song I heard on the radio. The worst was a 1.5 hour session only hearing the chorus to this horrible Paul McCartney song, "ever present past." Shivers.

  5. Oh, goodness, no offense taken. My brother told me to start listening to the Savage Love podcasts ages ago and I promptly began subscribing through itunes and then... never listened to them. So this is a good reminder. (Also, my brother once saw Dan Savage on the street - how he recognized him, I don't know - and yelled his name at close range. Dan Savage didn't respond, which sent us off on a tizzy of "You're really that big of a celeb? As if!" Well, my brother emailed him later to ask if it was actually him in Chicago, and Dan Savage wrote back a very, very nice apology note saying that he must not have heard and that next time my brother should make a point of getting his attention. Good guy.)

  6. And Tamara, I *hate* Wait Wait Don't Tell Me. I should probably give it more of a chance than I have, but I don't like it, ugh.

  7. You are most certainly not alone. Not...at all. And I'll get the stupidest lines from the dumbest songs in there for HOURS ON END.

    I go through phases with music: sometimes I welcome the distraction, other times I find the idea far far too annoying (much like you describe it above.)