When I go out for my regular 10~12k jog, I don't bring any mp3 player with me. In fact, I don't carry any gadgets at all: the only items on me are my sleeveless shirt, jogging shorts, and running shoes. It wasn't always this way. When I started out, I would fill my iPod to the brim with supposedly energizing music. But after a while, the music started to get old, so I'd find more music to replace the old ones. Repeat ad nauseum.
After a while, I got tired of wasting so much time finding songs. So I got rid of the music (along with those pesky earphone wires that always cling to some annoying spot near my neck). Having been jogging old school like this for some time now, I realized something: Running is more enjoyable! Here are a few theories that I present:
- I can pay more attention to how I feel. Do I feel out of breath? Slow down a bit. Do I feel too relaxed? Speed it up a bit. Doing this multiple times during my run eventually helps me to hit a pace that is just right for my current level of fitness;
- I can let my mind wander aimlessly. I have to say, this is the best part. Usually, my thoughts revolve around some parts of work, philosophy, coding, and everything else that interests me or has piqued my curiosity at one point in time. This is certainly a lot better than the same old tunes blasting away inside my ear;
- I get to take in a lot more of my surroundings. I notice the greenery more, I hear different sights and sounds as the city around me wakes up, I hear dogs barking and chasing after me (which is fine since I also exercise my fast-twitch muscles in between my long runs so I'm able to outrun them easily!), and so much more. So even though I have limited options for my route, there's enough happening around these places to make it new each time;
- Before, when I used to bring a gadget that tells me my distance, lap pace, and time to finish, I felt constantly out of breath, impatient, and frustrated. Now that I stopped bringing that with me, I stopped thinking about those irrelevant things, and I started running according to what feels right.
So when I take all of this into consideration, running without gadgets turns out to offer a lot more enjoyment and variety than anything else. That is how, I think, running should be.