Someone recently asked me if I run with my iPod. What a frightful idea. Yes, I have an iPod. No, I do not listen to it when I run, and especially not when I am cycling. As for cycling, I can hardly imagine anything more dangerous than tuning out my surroundings while on the street, nor more depressing than tuning out my surroundings while on forested bike paths.
And as I answered my running friend, I have so many voices going in my head, I could hardly stand the competition of an iPod while exercising!
Which is not to say I don't have music going in my head when I ride, and when I run. I suppose there would be some performance-enhancement from pumping into my head the kind of music typically used for working out. I hear this in indoor cycling coaching sessions, during the winter. And, while I don't listen to that kind of music on my own, I don't mind it for 90 minutes twice a week. I get it. (Not to mention that it meant I knew at least a few songs when I sat down to "Rock Band" last winter ...)
But I find the soundtrack in my head works quite well, thank you very much, for riding and for running. My mind, as fragile as it may seem, is quite capable of setting the metronomic pace for the exercise. And what a surprise and treat it often serves up! It may be a Beatles tune, an old children's song, a hymn (lots of hymns), or a sacred anthem. I almost never set out with something particular to "accompany" the exercise ... the songs, or snatches of song, come unbidden and serve their purpose. And more often than not, I find they serve more than one purpose. In addition to pacing, getting my soundtrack from within generally ends up serving my spirit as well as my workout.
I can't say how many solo rides have ended up solving particular choral problems or issues I've struggled with. Or how often an old song, long forgotten, will come back to me fully formed. Running is a new enterprise for me, but I am finding the same to be true on foot as well.
There's a place for my iPod, and I'm thankful for it. But I'm sure glad I don't need it to provide internal motivation. I have lots to learn from those internal voices!
Anyway - on my iPod; listed here as it comes to mind, since I don't have it with me at the moment:
Podcasts from Public radio: Wait Wait Don't Tell Me; The Sunday Puzzle; Writers Almanac
Music Genres: pop, rock, classical, choral, world music, indie rock, folk, country
Surprises: Johnny Cash, The Decemberists, U2, Harry Nilsson
Favorites: Concordia College Choir (Moorhead); Paul Simon (almost everything); Christmas choral music; the last thing I downloaded
First item I loaded on my iPod: Bach Christmas Oratorio, complete (and yes, I did listen to it; I also put it on first so I could say it was the first thing on my iPod. I know - lame.)
What I'd listen to if I did ride or run with an iPod: nothing! What would happen to all those songs in my head?