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Listening Up and Running With Sense

My iPhone has been my running companion for the two years that I have taken up running rather seriously.  No wonder. It is the keeper of my running music, any kind of music, including gospel, and my trusted RunKeeper app.

The thought of running without it was inconceivable until this past Saturday. Case and point: last summer while running a 10K, I must have added at least five minutes to my time when the app suddenly stopped.  Though I tried to keep going without it, I couldn’t hack it, so I stopped long enough to recover the app and my running playlist.

Meanwhile my running mate, who couldn’t conceive of running with music and so on, had long left me in the blazing distance. Still I didn’t see her point and set out to prove her wrong or just different, perhaps. So while visiting Georgia, I’d hijack my niece’s phone, having installed the app there and a substitute playlist.  And off I went. No matter where I ran, I set off with somebody’s phone.

Still I struggled, perhaps lost in the music and the commands of Ms RunKeeper, blaming my pokiness on anything but the obvious. But those days are gone, at least I hope they are. After spending about three days in sabbatical without my phone, my iPad, a single device, I finally saw the device for what it was—a distraction, certainly while running.

But seeing is next week’s focus of running with sense. This week I want to talk about hearing.  Things went so well Saturday that Monday morning, I set out yet again without the phone. Okay so it was in my pocket, just in case. But the just in case never happened, giving me the opportunity to hear London running rather smoothly, to be honest.

From birdsong to the cawing of the lone black crow perched on the lamppost, I heard London wake up. To one side of me, though I kept my head away from sooty, low waters of the Thames, I focused on the sounds of the water crashing against the gravelly shore.  For a moment, I fancied myself miles away on a remote island.

But the idea of running with sense is to stay in the moment and so I returned and further up the riverbank heard the splashing sounds of the river bus speeding along. At Battersea Bridge, I stopped and closed my eyes, listening to the thudding sounds of buses crossing, motorcycles vrooming and car engines purring and droning.

And to the other side of me, I heard the whooshing of wind passing through the trees and the rustling of leaves blowing about on the ground. All the while I sensed a calm flowing through me, even when I heard the odd sound of a banging and buzzing. The construction work was underway. Still I knew London was running smoothly. How refreshing!

Near and far I heard the striking of feet against the pavement, some running and others walking and dogs lightly trotting along, if you will. At one time, I heard my own rhythm so acutely that I was sure it must have been the sounds of another but it was mine, so I basked in it.

Then it dawned on me that scarcely a sound of the human voice was to be heard and there was something sobering about that, if only for a moment, though I heard one commuter whispering into her phone—the others going about quietly and purposefully, particularly cyclists. Speaking of cycling, did you know the turning of the wheels of a bicycle makes a lyrical sound, much like mosquitoes singing in the night? Me either.

And then they came, a class of school children running without sense if you will. They giggled, they chattered, they panted, and they shushed one another. But still it was a lovely sight to see.  They were running, really exercising! But that’s another story. Righty ho. Next week – Looking Out: Running with Sense.