Against running with headphones

“If I don’t leave my headphones behind when I run, I wouldn’t spend a single minute of my waking life free from input." Peter Sagal #books #amazon #running

The host of NPR's Wait Wait…Don't Tell Me! wrote about the delights of running in our overconnected age and it looks fantastic. 

“If I don’t leave my headphones behind when I run, I wouldn’t spend a single minute of my waking life free from input.

I have a friend who wears headphones on long solo runs because, he says, “I can’t spend that much time alone in my head.” I disagree. He can, and he should. Spending that much time inside one’s head, along with the voices and the bats hanging from the various dendrites and neurons, is one of the best things about running, or at least one of the most therapeutic. Your brain is like a duvet cover: Every once in a while, it needs to be aired out.”

Peter Sagal, The Incomplete Book of Running
Advertisements

‘Most runners run because they want to live life to the fullest’

tMugsDeEoF6WhRPCw.jpg

Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest. If you're going to while away the years, it's far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive than in a fog, and I believe running helps you do that. Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that's the essence of running, and a metaphor for life—and for me, for writing as well. I believe many runners would agree.

Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: A Memoir

The treadmill was originally a torture device

Treadmills were originally torture devices, meant to break the mind, body, and spirit of English prisoners.

Two hundred years ago, the treadmill was invented in England as a prison rehabilitation device. It was meant to cause the incarcerated to suffer and learn from their sweat.

Treadmills were originally installed as an outlet for exercise and milling corn and water as rewards. But they quickly escalated into a mechanism for punishment to prevent poor people from committing crimes to take advantage of the necessities in jail.

The treadmill was originally a torture device
via Jstor/Getty

Britain banned treadmills in 1989, seeing their punishment no longer useful.

An 1885 British Medical Journalarticle called “Death on the Treadmill,” chastized Durham Prison for the treadmill-induced death of a prisoner with heart disease. Its overall high death rate—one fatality a week—prompted the conclusion that “[t]he ‘mill’ is not useful, and has proved itself occasionally injurious.”

Having banned treadmills in 1828 to adopt a “collective industry” where prisoners became factory workers, America revamped the treadmill as an exercise machine.

It resurfaced in 1913 with a U.S. patent for a “training-machine.” In the 1960s, the American mechanical engineer William Staub created a home fitness machine called the PaceMaster 600. He began manufacturing home treadmills in New Jersey. (He used it often himself, right up until the months before his death at the age of 96.)

As this article points out, treadmills are the top-selling training equipment in the US but still come with all the baggage (injuries and boredom) that prisoners endured in England.

Running through the Alps

For runner Joe Grant, freedom is the rhythm of effort colliding with focus. The ability to unthink and just do it sets him free.

“When your mind lets go of things and attentiveness is not forced…that's when you tap into a feeling of freedom.”

It can be challenging to tame the incessant honking from the monkey mind, especially when we're roaming ahead with no destination in mind.

But we can achieve flow, moving like water over rocks in stride with the magnetic forces of the land.

Haruki Murakami: ‘I run in order to acquire a void’

“But really as I run, I don’t think much of anything worth mentioning. I just run. I run in a void. Or maybe I should put it the other way: I run in order to acquire a void… As I run I tell myself to think of a river. And clouds. But essentially I’m not thinking of a thing. All I do is keep on running in my own cozy, homemade void, my own nostalgic silence. And this is a pretty wonderful thing. No matter what anybody else says.”
— Haruki Murakami, [easyazon_link identifier=”0307389839″ locale=”US” tag=”wells01-20″]What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: A Memoir [/easyazon_link]
Just running, thinking of nothingness.

Thinking Exercise

Exercise is integral to creative thinking and persistence. I stumbled upon two articles today that emphasize this importance.

Maria Popova of BrainPicker, explains how simple movement improved her focus:

When my body is moving, it’s almost like it takes the wind out of this mental spinning, and I’m able to focus.

Famous Japanese author, Haruki Murakami, explains how running strengthened his will to write:

Most of what I know about writing I’ve learned through running every day. These are practical, physical lessons. How much can I push myself?

Writing requires creativity, focus, and endurance; just like exercise.

Running for the Music (on My Playlist)

But I do not run to run. I run to listen — which real runners consider not only dangerous but apostasy.

Music is powerful.  Music generates brain waves and inspires movement.  Whenever you feel down, slothful, or bored, put on some tunes.    

Here's my playlist of 2012 tunes if you're keen

The target for 2015 will be to climb up and down Mount Everest as fast as possible…

Track Kílian Jornet Burgada's wants to run the world's mountains.  

I am a competitor. I like to compete, to go beyond, to search for my limits.

Track his progress and read his philosophy here

Will Smith: “The keys to life are running and reading.”

gif via milk studios

“The keys to life are running and reading. When you're running, there's a little person that talks to you and says, “Oh I'm tired. My lung's about to pop. I'm so hurt. There's no way I can possibly continue.” You want to quit. If you learn how to defeat that person when you're running. You will how to not quit when things get hard in your life. For reading: there have been gazillions of people that have lived before all of us. There's no new problem you could have–with your parents, with school, with a bully. There's no new problem that someone hasn't already had and written about it in a book.”

— Will Smith