One of the most hotly debated posts on our 5K Beginners Courses is the one on how I don’t like running with music. Some participants are aghast at the idea of not rocking out while they run. I’m not against music, I just think that sometimes you need to be present while you run.
Case in point: this past weekend I did a half marathon run. It was a Sunday race where a local club mapped out various distances and asked for €2 as an entry fee. It sounded better than running on my own so I was sold.
The only problem was that most runners opted for the 8k distance and when I came to the fork in the road to start the half marathon course I was pretty much alone. There were people running but we were spread so far apart that we were each running solo. Knowing I’d be by myself for over an hour I took out my iPhone and punched in my favourite podcast. It was a gorgeous fall day and everything was going well. I was a little tired and probably running slower than usual but I didn’t mind.
The course wandered onto an unpaved gravel road in the middle of cow pasture, full of holes and bumps. Earphones in, I was only half-listening to my podcast drone on as my mind drifted to grocery shopping. All of a sudden I went flying through the air and landed hard on my hands and knees.
It took my breath away. I turned over and sat on my bum while I assessed the damage. My knee was skinned and I had a hole in my pants. Both of my palms were skinned and bleeding. That seemed to be it, but I sat there until the next runner came five minutes later and helped me up. The police motorbike came along and asked if I wanted an ambulance to bring me back to the finish but my legs were fine. The officer gave me some water to wash the dirt off and followed me closely for a few miles.
I finished the race and got my hand treated by the very nice medical people . Today I have an appointment with my osteopath to make sure my hips and back are in place.
So what happened? I wasn’t paying attention. With such an uneven surface I should have been concentrating on the holes and rocks were and where I place my feet. As I sat stupefied on the ground I saw a piece of uneven concrete sticking up, which is probably where my left foot caught and made me stumble. Not only had I not been paying attention to where I was running, I wasn’t even listening to the podcast. My mind was somewhere else altogether, spaced out and not present.
This isn’t to say I’ll never again listen to a podcast or music while I run. I know I will. But I’ll choose the moments with greater care. And I know (know know know) that unpaved roads are my nemesis!