I feel naked if I run without my ipod and iphone. I rely on Lady Gaga and Usher to push me through my first mile. The beats of Kanye and Jay Z help to quicken my stride as I get into the groove.The numbers obsessed part of me can't help but peek down at my Nike+ every five minutes to see my mile splits and distance.
But it hasn't always been this way.
The first time I went for a "run" I was 19. GPS tracking hadn't been invented and iPods were a lawyer's kid's luxury. I was happy with my mixed CDs and a Discman. Eleven years later and these gadgets are as essential to a run as my legs themselves. Dependency? Maybe a little.
However, there are days when I need my run to accomplish one thing: quiet the noise inside my head. This can't be done with "Poker Face" on repeat.
Being more interested in distance rather than my organic movement along the roads of the Edmond, America suburbs makes my run feel tense and exhausting. For me, this adds to the noise inside my head.
Work has been rough lately. By "work", of course, I am talking about my neverending job as a Stay-At-Home Mom. This 9-5 (HA!) demands more than I have to give some days. One day last week, I had reached my emotional threshold and needed to run. I cared nothing about how far or fast I went, I knew I just need to go.
I spread a smear of peanut butter on a bread slice and chugged a cup of ice water before I headed out.
I popped my ear buds in and hit the pavement with a half hour until sunset. As I picked up my feet I struggled with the heaviness of the first quarter mile. The dimness of the dinnertime sky coupled with the dropping temperatures of nightfall would normally have dissuaded me out of my sneakers and back onto the couch. But I was invigorated. After five minutes I had a "Forrest Gump" moment where, figuratively speaking, I felt like the braces broke off my legs and I was freed to really run. I felt good and strong. Mostly though, I felt free.
I didn't expect this. After-work exercise rarely feels good and fun for the first ten minutes before the endorphins kick in.
How could this have been? What did I do differently?
I looked down at my wrist and noticed I never hit "start" on my ipod. I looked at the face of my phone and saw nothing. I never turned on my music. I hadn't even thought of it until that moment.
I realized I didn't need Maroon5 to power me through the next mile. I couldn't have cared less about my pace. I was satisfied with the quiet. No pressure, no distraction, just my ponytail and me moving through the breeze.
Lost in the warm peach glow of the Oklahoma sunset before me as I turned the corner toward home, I found the nakedness of no music or GPS to be liberating. It was a kind of Zen.
"How was your run?" My husband asked as I walked through the door.
"Good…" I answered. "Really good."
My answer didn't faze him as he slaughtered zombies on xbox. I didn't expect it to. How could I adequately communicate the feeling of Zen anyway?
I took off my earbuds and tucked my phone away. Maybe I'd bring them on my next run. Or maybe I'd be OK with the nakedness of just my ponytail and me, moving through the wind, quiet and free.