People always ask if I run with music. For me the answer is generally no. I have never been one to listen to music while I run. I only do on occasion when running outdoors or perhaps to get through a boring treadmill workout. I prefer to listen to the sounds as I run . . . the rhythm of my feet hit the ground, the sound of my breathing, my inner monologue, and also to the noises and sounds around me. By focusing on these sounds I am able to enter an almost meditative state as I run.
This preference to run in peace began when I was a rower at Colby College. There was nothing better than going out for a morning row in the eight on Lake Messalonskee on a glassy lake morning. Rowing requires an intense focus as all eight rowers attempt to take the perfect strokes together to balance the shell, a long straight arrow, sliding through the silver water. The sound of each stroke, each click in the oarlock, and each feather of the blade coming into the catch to drop the blade into the water in perfect unison was the sound of perfection. Breathing. Harmony. Peace. Power. Endurance and strength.
I still crave those moments and often miss that sensation. I find that on runs when I am alone or enduring a hard focused workout with a friend, or in a race, if I am able to bring myself into that almost zen like state then I am able to fly. Therefore I choose to run to listen to myself. Free without being plugged in.
This is a hotly debated topic according to Runner’s World Magazine. Check out this fantastic article where both sides are debated.
I am currently down for the count with Bronchitis with instructions to not do anything to cause the cough to worsen. What????? I guess that means no long winter Sunday runs or freezing races up mountains. Well, at least for a little while that is. This is hard advice for any athlete to abide to (and doubly hard for a MOM athlete who is also taking care of two sick little ones, one being sick with the tummy bug the other night which amounted to about two hours of sleep for me), However not wanting to have this illness become pneumonia I guess I will have to follow the doctors orders.
Overall I have been feeling pretty good health-wise this winter dodging all of the preschool germs carried home by my little ones. Adding in longer mileage though during the winter months however has opened the door to germs again. According to Bob Cooper in this months online edition of Runner’s World,
“When you push your body without interruption for more than 90 minutes, the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine, which suppress immune function, gush out of your adrenal glands. Inflammatory cytokines, neutrophils, and monocytes (red-flag markers of physiological stress) take over your bloodstream, while your virus-fighting T cells and “natural killer cells” go into hiding. None of this is good. It doesn’t make you sick on the spot, but for at least a few hours after the run, it makes your body as inviting to “bugs” as a porch light.”
My Mom jokingly said, “well perhaps it’s the midwinter mountain runs and long runs in the NH cold at dawn that have brought this on.” However being a running addict I firmly disputed and said, “No, it can’t be that . . . I’ll be back to winter running and mountain races in no time.”
Here’s to hoping for better health this winter! If you are looking for more advice from Bob Cooper about running in the winter check out the article that I’ve posted below.