Diary of a Newbie Runner: The Dead iPod Crisis

{By Ellery Sadler}

I always run with music. Always. Except for today.

I picked up my iPod and it told me low battery. I have an iPod shuffle, and it only tells me ‘low battery’ when it has about five minutes left. Problem number one. So I put it back down and decided to run without it. Scary, I know, but I thought I’d be brave this morning and give it a try. Problem number two. I’m way too much of a over-acheiving runner (wouldn’t you agree?)

But it was too hot to run outside, so that left the treadmill. Problem number three. Treadmills are very boring, even with music. I hopped on and began a five-minute warm-up walk. So far so good. See, walking isn’t that hard, I’ve been doing it since I was about one and half. Running, however, is a different story. In a nice, air-conditioned room on a treadmill, not much can go wrong, right? Wrong. I had been walking for a few minutes when, mid-stride, the treadmill turned off. Just shut down. Blank screen. It erased my beautiful four minutes of hard work in only one split second. Amazing how technology does that.

My iPod was dead and then the treadmill shut down.

Hesitantly I pushed the ‘Start’ button again, secretly hoping it would just stay dead. But it didn’t, it just wanted to tease me, and I started up again feeling slightly betrayed. Now was the moment of truth: could I actually run without music? I picked up my speed and began to run.

Let me tell you something I have learned. I am the voice of experience trying to save you pain, so listen hard.

Running without music is like trying to breathe without air. It is a slow painful way to die. I don’t recommend it.

I glanced at the clock. How could one minute feel so long? I have done thousands of things for way longer than one minute that felt way shorter. Talking to a friend on the phone for one minute would be hardly enough to say hi and bye. Trying to read for one minute would be hardly enough time to flip a page. And watching TV for one minute is hardly enough time to see a commercial. But running for one minute, without music, is plenty of time to talk on the phone, read an entire book, and watch a TV show. All at once, with time left over. That’s how long it feels.

The problem with having no music is there is nothing to distract you from the pain in your knees, the sweat dripping down your face, or the heaving of your breathing.

It gets old really, really fast.

And there is only so much you can look at from a treadmill because a treadmill stays still. I looked at the sunflowers. Pretty. I looked up at the sky. Pretty. I watched the grass grow. Pretty. I watched the workman working in our neighbor’s yard. Not so pretty.

Time goes slowly without any music. But I endured it, by singing in my head, and trying to think distracting thoughts. And do you want to know what I found? Praying is one of the most beautifully distracting, peaceful, things to do while running. It is amazing. I highly recommend it.

So if your iPod is dead, and you are terrified of running without music and bored by the thought of silence – pray instead.

It works just as well and I guarantee you it is more productive.

Do you run/work out with music? Have you tried anything else? What would you recommend to others?