|Not my paint drawing, sadly (I only added the iPod)|
When I first read that most races (running, triathlon, etc...) don't allow iPods, I balked. How in the heck can you race that long without the motivation that music gives you?! I've long considered my iPod to be an essential workout partner for every activity. It keeps me focused, motivated, and on the move. There's another thing that an iPod lends to a workout - the illusion of privacy and superpower of avoiding communication with others. This works beautifully at the gym to deter any unwarranted sleazy contact with the large grunting apes in the weight room, and it blocks the sound of the girl on the treadmill in front of you screeching loudly about the last night out. My music had become such a part of my workout, that as I moved outside, I never thought about trying to go without it until I signed up for the triathlon. Begrudgingly, I left my music at home and buckled down for a silent, grueling run.
Imagine my surprise at the pure joy I felt being iPod-free. I hear things I'd never hear, I smile and say hi to everyone, even those in their invisi-bubble iPod worlds, I can hear my thoughts, I can hear my breathing (and pace better accordingly), and I can hear others coming up behind me so that I do not cause an accident. It's changed the experience of outside training entirely. I am aware. Sometimes, listening pays off. I am still relatively new to my fancy road bike and I feel a bit new on it. Despite all the high-end gear, a part of me still feels like I'm not really a cyclist (even though I've been riding for a few years now). Spandex clad guys in matchy jerseys zoom past me on a regular basis, sometimes people wave and sometimes people don't. The other day as I peddled into the afternoon wind, a guy rode by me and as he passed he called out, "Lookin' good there! Keep it up!" It was a simple expression of pure encouragement, camaraderie and just plain kindness. If I'd had my earbuds screwed into my head, I wouldn't have heard him come up behind me and I certainly wouldn't have heard his rallying cry.
It made me think a bit about how minding our own business has become almost a compulsion in today's busy world. We consider keeping to ourselves, averting our eyes and not making contact to almost be good manners. It's a rather lonely world that way. Who knows if other people have ever called out words of encouragement to me, that I've blocked out with my iPod?! From now on, I'm going to be ready to receive everything I can hear and I'm going to be dishing it back. Everyone likes support. Everyone likes to be cheered. Everyone could use a little spontaneous interaction!