For me, there is always something strangely satisfying about buying new running gear. I don't know if its my nature to seek retail therapy or the renewed motivation that comes with the gear, but, for whatever the reason, about once a month I always find myself browsing the aisles of my favorite local running stores. On one of these particular occasions I began chatting with one of the employees. After covering the basics of where I went to school and the hot weather this summer, he posed a question that caught me off-guard: "Do you run with an iPod?"
Now I've heard the debate before; the assumptions that a true runner is a "purist" and only an amateur would need an iPod to run. Always running with teammates, I've never truly identified with one category or the other, although I do find myself resorting to my iPod when I'm lacking a running companion. But in this moment, I heard the words tumble quickly out of my mouth: "Without"- I replied, as if it were the most obvious answer in the world. The employee grinned and nodded his head in approval; I was in the elite class of the 'serious' runner.
That night I found myself mulling over our conversation. Was the employee really right about purist running? The next day as I was lacing up my shoes, I decided to put the theory to the test. I grabbed my watch and headed out the door- sans my iPod. Now I've run without my iPod before, but this time I took its absence into my full awareness. I focused on the pounding of my feet in my ears, each bead of sweat trickling down my face, every swift movement of my arms. I refused to miss anything, letting the run fully flood my senses. Soon I fell into my own thoughts, which took the place of music as my distraction. I finished the run feeling refreshed, renewed and more clear-headed than I had in a long time.
Although my "purist" run was a great experience, I have to say that it has not become a daily occurrence. I still resort to my iPod to mute the pain of a particularly long run or numb my thoughts when I just need to get it done. However, there are times now when I do leave my iPod behind so that its just me and the pavement beneath my feet. So if you are feeling particularly stressed one day, just go run without the weight of any added technology. It is the most natural feeling the world and, who knows, you may just be hooked.