To iPod or iNot?

by D0nnaTr0y
ipodiPod… Dangerous or A Running Necessity?

I’ve always been in the camp of Dangerous.  At least when it comes to outdoor running.  But last night I broke my “no iPods outside” rule, and rather enjoyed an music inspired run.

Untill yesterday, I had always been an “only on the treadmill” iPod user.  And I always love those runs! The best stress relief for me was doing speed work on the treadmill listening to some great upbeat dance pop a la Justin Timberlake or the likes.   But I recently “froze” my gym membership to save money figuring now was the best time to run outside anyway, and that I should save up for this summer, when I’ll really need the air conditioned gym!  I’ve been loving my out door runs down to the river and back, but have been missing the exhilaration of the speed work.  I had planned for a fartlek run yesterday, but was not motivated enough to brave the cold rain.   When the sun finally broke around 5:30, I immediately stopped what I was doing, grabbed my running shoes, and as I was about to run out the door, impulsively grabbed my iPod.

The park I run is always well populated but to be on the safe side, I don’t usually run there past sundown.  Even though the days are getting longer, I knew I would be cutting it close with a now 6:00 run, and that this probably wasn’t the best time to try out the iPod.  But I did it anyway, and was pleasantly surprised!

Perhaps it was the sun shining for the first time all day paired with my upbeat and inspirational (albeit it cheesy pop) Grey’s Anatomy Soundtrack playlist, or maybe it was the fact that I was mixing it up by doing something different, but yesterday’s run was one of those soul lifting runs! The music definitely made my “now run to that lampost soooo far in the distance as fast as you can” sprints so much easier!  I felt like I was in a movie montage of the underdog getting in shape before the final winning moment! What fun!  I tried to keep my volume down so that I could still hear my surroundings, and while I could hear the nearby traffic, I’m not sure I would have heard a person addressing me.  Then again, this is NYC and one rarely, if ever, gets spoken to on a run.  So I don’t know if my sense of security was false or not, but I did try to keep more of an eye out then usual, just in case.

Despite how exhilarating last night’s run was, I don’t think I’ll be transferring all the way into the iPod camp.  As a professional musician who spends the majority of her day either composing, copying, or teaching music, my midday runs are a chance to not hear music, to take a break from it, and to enjoy John Cage-style the music of my environment.  And I did miss a little of that “white noise” that clears my mind so quickly.  However, on the days that I really need that extra push or motiviation, or simply feel the need to star in my own personal training to be bad-ass montage, I will not hesitate to bring the iPod along!

Speaking of training montages… here are a few of my faves:


My personal favorite, from “The Cutting Edge” (1992).

This last one is from my favorite running movie of all time, “Saint Ralph” (2004) about a boy who believes that by winning the Boston Marathon he will perform a miracle, consequently curing his mother of cancer.  This clip shows the result of the marathon (SPOILER!!!), so if you haven’t seen the movie yet, DON’T WATCH!!!!

But if you have, you’ll remember how truly inspiring his race is, and will hopefully be inspired too, whether it be in your next race, or your next iPod accompanying fartlek!


6 Responses to “To iPod or iNot?”

  1. 1 thekimrunner April 7, 2009 at 6:10 PM

    i-pod. i seriously i-pod. i am also a recent convert. i used to prefer running socially, so i didn’t need it. i would usually take it on my early morning solo runs for company, but never in a race. and then at myrtle beach, i decided to. i had no plans to run the race with anyone. i thought, i might need the motivation at mile 9-10 heading down kings highway. so i made a mix and headed out. i ended up running the first 10 miles with afriend, but had the pod in my ears, volume down low so i could talk and hear. and at mile 10, kings of leon came on and i was on fire! i had already decided to kick it up a notch and finish the final 5k a little harder, and that was the final push. and from there it was nirvana (not actually nirvana, but guns and roses, maroon 5, queen, gavin rossdale… 27 minutes of great running tunes) and at that moment, i was a slave to the pod. i come home now excited about what music it spits out for me. i am forever amused by it’s random shuffling of songs. i picked all the songs in there, but i leave it up to the pod to tell me what to run to. and it doesn’t usually let me down.

  2. 2 Dean April 7, 2009 at 7:10 PM

    Since my high-school days of cross country and track, I haven’t run with an iPod. I’m not totally against it now. But after those years of learning to enjoy the company of your fellow runners and listening to your environment and your body, the iPod just isn’t something I reach for when I go for a run. I would love to try it, but it makes me somewhat nervous not having my ears alert when in the city. As you said, though, you just have to be more aware of your surroundings.

    But maybe running with music would be good for me to try? Having music could be that extra motivating factor I didn’t know I was missing.

    I saw a trio of high-school-aged girls running in Richmond at the time of day that cross country practice is usually out, and ALL THREE of them had iPods in. Now that, I just don’t understand.

  3. 3 d0nnatr0y April 7, 2009 at 7:19 PM

    @thekimrunner- I could definitely see how tunes could really help toward the end of a race, esp. if you’re not running with a partner! Despite various race restrictions, you at least feel safe in that environment and I suppose if you keep the volume low, you can still enjoy the cheering from the side. I must admit though, I have in the past tried to talk to people in a race just to say something along the lines of “I like your shirt” or something just to feel slighted when they didn’t respond because their volume was up so loud they couldn’t hear me right next to them! I guess the key is to get the volume low!

    @Dean- As I said, I’m new to running with the iPod but I can certainly attest to listening to epic tunes like “Love Supreme” while in the gym and it definitely works a special type of osmosis!

  4. 4 Erin May 9, 2009 at 12:52 PM

    This question is floating around in the back of my mind constantly because running and music are my two very favorite activities. That’s the main reason I try to combine them by writing my own running tunes. Still, I agree it’s a delicate balance because some times I want to focus just on the running and like you say not listen to music for awhile. Luckily we don’t have to choose one of the other 😉

    Great blog, the argument was very well put!

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