Tag Archives: ipod

Robyn vs. Universe

Oh universe, you are a funny little devil.

It seems that my decision to publicly proclaim my new-found admiration for running music-less would come to bite me straight in the butt this morning. As you may know, yesterday I admitted that there is a lot of serenity in running unplugged, and that I was no longer afraid of running sans iPod. So to this, the universe said, “Oh yea little missy? Let’s just see about that.”

Let me explain:

I was planning on doing a 12 mile run this morning to log some good miles in the dry weather. I started off feeling strong, and I was psyched to be running on such a fog filled morning. For me, fog really enhances the primal and solo aspects of running, and today Seattle was laden in a thick layer of heavy fog.

So off on my merry way I went, and just when I passed mile 1, kaboom…silence. I checked out my iPod which originally appeared to be half full of battery, and the screen only flashed with that ominous dead battery signal.

You know the one…it’s so sad.

To this, I could only snicker. I actually considered giving out-loud props to whomever controls the karmic circumstances of our world. There I was, proudly proclaiming that music was no longer my running clutch, and to that I received the response, “Prove it.”

Now, I would like to make it known that I did say I do still use music frequently, and I never go a whole run without listening to music at least for a bit. Alas, the universe decided I needed to practice what I preached, and I was hand delivered the opportunity to run 11 miles in the quiet.

So after I shook off my initial humor at the irony of the situation, I was forced to confront the purism of running head-on. I was a bit scared at first; before when I’d turn off my iPod, I always had the decision to turn it back on if I wanted. Not this time, and I recognized this present situation as a test.

Note: Yes, the practical realist would stop me right now and say, “Actually Robyn, your iPod died because it obviously didn’t have enough battery and you were the one that mistakenly didn’t charge it enough for the week.” 

Sure, whatever.

However, I prefer to side with the mystical reasoning behind this coincidence. And that’s why I spent 11 miles having a one-on-one with the universe.

During my quiet run, I realized that if I am going to have a running blog, I am really going to need to meld the thoughts and ideas I share in this space with my own running. No, I never ever intended or intend to fabricate or exaggerate anything I say on here, but I am realizing that if I’m to devote my time and writing to such a specified topic, I am really going to need to embrace it wholly and practice what I preach.

I think we all come across situations where we give great advice or ideas to others, but when it comes to applying them  in our own lives suddenly those great ideas seem daunting.

Why is this?

Personally, I think it’s because the most rewarding and enriching parts of life—the parts we have no problem encouraging everyone but ourselves to take on—are actually the harder routes to take on. For instance: it’s very easy for me to run with music, even though I know that there are so many advantages to using my running time for reflection and quiet. So while it might be easy for me to rant about unplugged running, actually going out and doing it is a whole other ballgame.

I really respect the people who live and act in the same way they advise and teach others to. It shows honesty and a deeper level of empathy and understanding. I’m really going to try and commit to this, within the spaces of my running blog, my running life, and my everyday life.

So there you have it. My attempt at a more light-hearted blog post turned into another philisophical rant about life. Clearly I have had a lot on my mind, and I’m grateful to have  a place to divulge it all. Don’t worry though, the trivial day-to-day jargon will come shortly.

If you’re still there, thanks for reading 🙂

Cheers to December 1st, and the for-real beginning of the countdown to Christmas!



Running Purism

For the majority of my running career, I was always horrified at the thought that my iPod might die in the middle of a run. Music was the essence of a steady pace and entertainment during my runs, and it was unimaginable to think of spending over an hour out on the roads with only the thoughts in my head.

I guess you could say I’m a plugged-in runner. I really enjoy using the time spent running as a chance to zone out and focus on listening to music and sweating through the miles. Although my music doesn’t change all that often, I treasure the songs I use for running and each represents a different aspect of my running for me.

So why is it, since the marathon in October, have I been pulling out my headphones and running in silence…and enjoying it??

This is a very new phenomenon for me, and it isn’t completely regular, however during each run I’ve been having this urge to participate in my surroundings without the distraction of music. It’s really different and odd for me—music has always been my constant as a runner, and I was always in shock at the people who could spend miles and miles inside their own heads without an upbeat tune keeping their feet moving. My running friend Rose refers to this type of runner as a “purist,” which I really think is the perfect description. Because running is in so many ways just this—pure. It’s simple, it’s primal, and it requires very few external resources.

Running without an iPod is the essence of this running purism. Without the distraction of various songs in our heads, we must channel our attention to the rhythm of our breath, the tapping of our feet, and the hum of our surroundings.  When we unplug from our distractions, we can absorb our surroundings so much more wholly.

I feel that this thought was what initially jolted me to turn off my iPod one cold Seattle morning. It was dark and calm out, and I had the sudden desire to hear the sound of the ocean that I run by all the time. All at once, I was completely in awe of the peaceful solitude I felt without my music. All my senses seemed to be heightened; I could hear the breaking waves, the “arping” seals, and the cooing seagulls. With the exception of occasional passing headlights, I really felt completely alone with my surroundings, and there was something very therapeutic about the whole experience. Without music, suddenly these other facets of running overwhelmed me all at once, and I felt very curious to play around with this new-found running technique.

It would be a lie to say that I saw the light and now run in meditative silence alongside the sea creatures and rainbows. No, not even close. I still start most of my runs with my iPod, and I do still keep it on for a full run from time to time (note: hills are nearly impossible to tackle without an epic “Dream On” anthem playing at top volume). However, I’m no longer scared to run without music. During almost every run I unplug from my headphones, if only for just a small portion of time, and enjoy all the external beauties surrounding me. I have found that without headphones, I give much more acknowledgment to others passing by, my pace is kept much more precise, and I am actually more distracted than I am with headphones. However, this distraction is driven by appreciation and admiration of everything surrounding me, as opposed to hearing Taylor Swift sing so precisely about the aches of love (for the hundredth time).

I guess my point is this: By allowing my attention to focus outward during a run, as opposed to solely on the beat filling my ears, I have learned to appreciate running in a whole new way. For a long time, I loved the feeling I got after a run. Sure, while I was plugging the miles I knew that I was accomplishing something, but my mind was always adrift; focused on the afterward. By unplugging and submitting to the nakedness of running without a fixed playlist, I have learned to love running in the present. My awareness of the things around me during a run has brought me in touch with the purism of running, which is all about enjoying the run itself. Even if I only occasionally remove my ear buds, this new found appreciation of “running in the present” has heightened my admiration for the sport. Channeling our energy into the present moment is one of the hardest things for people to do, and running is one of the few activities that, if done with diligence, yields an ethereal sense of stillness and peace.

Do you run with music? Book on tape? What are your thoughts on unplugging ourselves during a run?