I’ve been running since I was 13. In the 16 years of lacing up my shoes and heading outside to get my heart pumping, I have never once run in the rain.
It seems hard to believe, even to me, especially because an entire year of runs took place in Scotland and two others took place in Boston. Somehow, I have always managed to miss jogging through nature’s personal misting system. Which is pretty lucky, actually, because I have always relied on music blasting through headphones to inspire me to run. Back when I first started on the track of my middle school, I honestly lugged a discman with me as I did lap after lap. Now, luckily, I can simply strap my iPod to my arm to get the beats I need to keep my feet moving. Either way, I was pretty terrified of getting wet while holding these electronics.
Because I’ve always run with music, I just assumed that it inspired me to finish even when I wanted to stop. When the running got tough, I could just focus on a song to keep me going. Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” has been an important companion on many a run. For some reason, pretty much any song by Maroon 5 distracts me enough to keep running (probably because even thinking about Adam Levine gets my adrenaline pumping). And whenever “Shake It Out” by Florence + The Machine plays, I have to listen to it at least twice.
The other day, I saw a list on Facebook about what makes up a “real” runner. One of the only lines that I read said something about how real runners do it without music. As I eyed the ominous monsoon clouds threatening to burst with a torrential downpour, I decided to face my fears of running in the rain and without music at the same time.
I have still never run in the rain, but I have officially run without music. To my surprise, I think I did a better job without my iPod goading me on. When I have the music playing, I either put all of my focus on a song or I get inside my head too much. Without the music, though, my thoughts were free to roam. Instead of trying to match my stride to a beat, I enjoyed the sound of my breath flowing in and out of my chest, the soft buzz of cicadas in the trees, and the whirring of the many bicycles riding by me on the path. For the first time ever, I actually hoped it would rain as I ran.
Just a small change to my normal routine has opened up a wide range of new fitness possibilities. As I finished that first run sans music, I started to wonder how many more small changes I could make to revolutionize the way I work out.
And you know what? I’m excited to try them.