An admitted shoe geek waxes philosophical about running, triathlon, and life in general.
Comments welcome!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

What do you hear when you run?

Running is one of those things where all your senses are involved. Sight (watch where you're going!), feel (feeling the ground, feeling pain), taste (one of my favorite responses to "how fast do I run a 5K?" is "you know when you're going fast enough, you can taste it"), smell (that amonia smell? that's muscle breakdown). But hearing... Hearing is the one that I think is almost as involved as sight.

I hear the taps of my feet as they make contact with the ground (something I constantly work on lessening), the crunch of gravel underfoot. My breathing. I hear cars approaching from behind. I hear wind in the trees, the snap of a stick. Some of these sounds change with the seasons. Damp dirt in the fall and spring makes almost no sound (unless it's the splash of puddles). Hard-baked dirt in the summer makes more noise as I land. Snow depends on the temperature -- if it's cold enough, it squeaks.

When I take my dogs with me on a run, I hear the padding of their feet, the soft clicks of their claws on pavement, the jangle of their tags. I hear Duke's breathing long before I hear Jake's.

Yes, there are all kinds of external noises happening all the time when running. One of the reasons I like running off-road more and more is the nature of the sounds. As in, "nature" rather than man-made.

But what about the things you hear on the inside? What do you hear when you unplug the iPod, tune out the cars and wind, and listen to what's happening inside you?

Quiet the self-talk. Quiet the worries about work, money, children.

In yoga, there's the practice of acknowledging those thoughts that come into your head, then letting them go. Do that. And listen.

Do you hear it? It's something that both accompanies and dictates the rhythm of your running. Not your cadence, not that magical but arbitrary "180" that so many people are striving to achieve.

It's something like a song, but not a song. It's something like a story, but not a story.

Something primal.

Being 3/4 Norwegian, I hear it as something like the war songs of the Vikings. Both a driving force for entering battle, and a telling of a life story. It reaches down inside and pulls up something that maybe you never knew was there. And each day, each run takes something from it, and adds something to it.

You'll probably know when you find it by the chills and the calm. It both excites and assuages. It makes you hungry and sates a hunger at the same time.

I'm about to head out for a run. I'm taking a letter that was delivered to our house by mistake, and putting it in the right mail bow (a few streets away), then heading... not sure where yet. But I'll be listening to that inner thing.

What do you hear when you run?

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