September 18th 2016
Today on my run I swapped music for a podcast. Usually if I’m running by myself I’ll plug into Spotify, find an artist I like and listen to an album on repeat. Music is a good accompaniment to running because firstly it acts as a distraction technique – it keeps your mind busy so your feet can run without thought – and second if the music has a fast enough tempo then running to it keeps you pumped. Ever tried running to dubstep? It’s a fucking workout, let me tell you. 180bpm? Have a laugh.
Today however I attuned my wireless headphones to a screenwriting podcast. I’ve been listening to podcasts on my commute to and from work, and I finished my last commute half way through a podcast, which isn’t ideal, so I thought I should finish it off today on my run. I think of running as free time, which makes it an ideal time to listen. I’d never otherwise have the opportunity to just sit and listen for an hour.
The podcast is The Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith wherein he interviews screenwriters/directors/actors about their films. It’s interesting, from a writing and cinematic standpoint. But it’s not quite the 145bpm rap music that is usually the soundtrack of my runs. Rap is good because it’s fast – which is good for tempo – and it’s lyrical – which is good for keeping the mind busy. But the podcast kept my mind busy too.
Because I was listening to something that really interested me I’d end up almost getting lost in it and forgetting about the fact that I was still running. There’s a route I run that I know is exactly 5km to the turnaround point and exactly 5km back (obviously) and because I was concentrating so much on the podcast I found myself at the turnaround point before I’d even really realised that I was running.
I mean, I got there slower, technically. My pace was slower, but it was only ever planned to be a gentle jog. But I was covering the distance without thinking about it. Quite often when I run on my own I get bored, and keep thinking to myself ‘can I turn around yet?’ I’m like a little kid on the way to the airport. ‘Are we there yet?’ ‘How much longer?’ and although the music from my headphones helps, if I’m hearing the same songs over and over again then I start to focus less on the music and more on the running, which in turn (perhaps somewhat counterintuitively) has negative impacts on the running.
I’ve said it before, but running (for me) is mostly mental. It’s drive, and desire, and perseverance. It’s fighting the urge to turn around because I’m bored. It’s not getting that urge in the first place. This is why distractions help. Because if I’m thinking about the inner-workings of a screenplay then I’m not thinking about the twinge in my right ankle or how comfy my bed is.
Until tomorrow, I’m not even thinking about the running.