>> Monday, October 26, 2009
It’s Monday. Let’s get the blood flowing. I know a good way to do that: bring up the “iPod issue.”
I’ve found FEW people are “in the middle” on this subject: either you’re totally FOR USING iPods or totally AGAINST USING iPods.
This topic was recently brought up in the Minnesota Distance Running Association (MDRA) magazine “RunMinnesota.” Gary Westlund, the GREAT race director for Charities Challenge, wrote the article titled “What Are You Missing?”
Please click here to read Gary’s article in “RunMinnesota.”
I don’t want to make any enemies, but I feel I must let you all know that Pharmie and I side with Gary on this subject. I actually wrote Gary once I saw the article to say that we back him up, and I said that Pharmie and I think it’s a real safety issue. Many times I’ve passed a runner (either while biking or running) whom I didn’t know was wearing an iPod. I always give a friendly but loud “on your left” as I come to pass people so they’re aware of me. When their iPods are blaring, they cannot hear me legally signaling my pass. Either they change course and I nearly hit them (I’ve never hit anyone yet, but it’s been close a LOT of times), or they freak out and jump when I go by and then shoot me a dirty look because I startled them.
I must mention that there are people that DO wear their iPods at a decent volume considering they are working out in a public place being used by others as well. It’s great when I come up to pass someone with an iPod, say “on your left,” and they give a little wave letting me know I was heard and we’re on the same page. Then I always say “thanks” when going by.
So when I told Gary that I felt it was more of a safety issue, he wrote me back and said that he had written a lot more about that, but that was the majority of what had to be cut out to fit in the magazine.
Gary's been a race director for years, and the following is an interesting point that he made in his MDRA article:
I’ve edited thousands of race photos. And I see confirmation in racers’ faces that headphone wearing runners are not nearly as happily engaged in all the experiences of running and racing as those who run with both their ears and eyes, and attentive minds, wide open to all the sounds, voices and cheers around them.
(BTW, I think Gary’s probably edited more like HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of race photos!! That man is picture crazy! In a good way, of course!)
My final 2 cents on this topic is regarding those who use music to pump themselves up. I KNOW about the power of music. I’m NOT denying that. It’s easy to be moved / revved-up by a song. But when I’m racing or working out hard, I really need to be “tuned in” to my body. I need to hear my breathing; I need to hear the speed of my foot strikes; I need to hear the wind going past my ears. All those things help me to gauge my effort. (Not to mention that I need to hear the traffic around me so I don't get killed.)
The “studies” show that using music really DOES help beginner athletes; it really gives them that boost when they need it. But “studies” also show that iPods hurt seasoned athletes because of similar issues I listed in the paragraph above. (And I placed “studies” in quotes because, like most issues, the “research” on this topic is sketchy and changing all the time.)
This might not be a totally fair argument, but look at the fastest runners in an iPod legal marathon. How many of them in the top 1% are wearing iPods? I finished in the top 2% of the TC 10 Mile a few weeks ago (95 out of 5797), and I only saw 1 person running near me (around mile 5) that was wearing an iPod. I just looked back at the finishing video of that race, which was an iPod legal race. I discovered 2 things. 1: a guy pukes just after finishing around 56:00 and the cameraman tries to get him out of the frame. And 2: of the runners that finished in the top 2% (the top 115 out of 5797), I saw exactly ZERO iPods come through.
I think my bottom line is this: If you want to run as fast as you can, it’s not about finding the right song; it’s about “tuning in” to your body.
So what are your thoughts on all of this? Why DO you or DON’T you wear an iPod during workouts or races? Let’s open this up for discussion. Please leave a comment with your thoughts. This is a hot-button issue, but try to be civil with your comments on either side of this debate. I’m also going to let Gary Westlund and the editor of “RunMinnesota” know about this post so they can stop by and see what’s being said.
Thanks!! Happy Monday!
(p.s. Did anyone else think it was funny to see Gary’s “anti iPod” story on one page of the spread, and an ad for 2 races with 2 big “iPod Friendly” logos on the other side of the spread? Ha!)