“One way of looking at the history of the human group is that it has been a continuing struggle against the veneration of "crap.” ― Neil Postman
"Although the B.A.A. discourages the use of iPods and headphones. they are allowed except for those who declare themselves eligible for prize money"When it comes to opinions concerning running and music, runners tend to fall, devoutly, on one side or the other of the pro/con fence. I'm pretty old school on this, though I try to fight my Luddite tendencies - so I'm in the process of trying to figuring out why I think running with music isn't such a good idea, either for the runner or for the running community.
Yesterday I ran the Boulder Spring Half Marathon. The conditions were fairly harsh - unseasonable hot, dry, and windy. Nonetheless, the race had a large turnout. As I stood a few rows back from the starting line I surveyed the crowd. Many many runners were wired for sound. Interestingly, none of the runners at the very front were. They stood, shaking out their legs, jumping around in place, and talking with those nearest them.
As we took off down the dusty rutted road, it seemed that at least 50%-75% of the runners were rockin' to their own personal beat. Many had the volume cranked so loud that I could easily hear their music. At one point I went past a pair of women running together. One held a phone with music playing at full volume so that both could enjoy the tunes - No ear-buds/headphones in sight. Okay. That's not okay! Why am I so cranky about this? Well, because I don't want to listen to your music. Period.
So here are some of my personal, biased, completely unscientific and unsupported thoughts concerning this fairly new development in running and racing.
1) I think this newish trend is bad for the running community. It seems that during races we are no longer running together. Rather, we are off in our own little worlds in the sense that it doesn't really matter if anyone else is there or not. I don't think that's good for the running community. Can you really have a "community" of isolated individuals. I've been running for long enough to notice that this has changed the feel of races. I can't put my finger on it, exactly, but I'm working on it.
What do you think?
2) It can be dangerous - and that's up to you if it's only dangerous for you. I subscribe to the view (convincingly argued by John Start Mill in "On Liberty") that we should be allowed to do stupid things if the only person at risk is one's self, but when your decisions effect me (or more generally, anyone else), that changes the situation. I have had numerous experience where plugged-in runners cut me off. Once, during a race, I was pushed off a bike path and nearly plunged into the Platte River in Denver (an icy, January Platte River) by a runner who passed me and then moved over too soon. He couldn't hear me. I enjoyed great satisfaction in passing him and leaving him in the dust at mile 9. Can you really blame me?
What do you think?.
3) Music while running distracts you from many of the thoughts that might present themselves in the absence of music. I'm not saying that music negates thinking, it doesn't - I'm saying that music, to some degree creates a mood that directs thinking in particular directions. We are constantly multitasking, sometimes out of necessity, but also perhaps in an attempt to avoid thinking too much. Many of us are unable to spend long periods of time with ourselves, alone and quiet. We look for distractions and they are everywhere.
What do you think?
“Technology always has unforeseen consequences, and it is not always clear, at the beginning, who or what will win, and who or what will lose...” ― Neil PostmanSo the question is: Why are so many runners so attached to their iPods? They often respond to challenge as though they will fight to the death for their right to wear their iPods. On many running forums I've heard runners claim that they will not run races that prohibit iPods and some go so far as to claim that they simply "can't" run without one. They would quit running if they were denied their beloved iPod.
That kind of fanatical, somewhat desperate, attachment (addiction?) seems to indicate a problem, if you ask me.
All this said, today I bought an iPod Shuffle. Am I drinking the Kool aid? Am I taking the "blue pill"? Am I just being a hypocrite? - I say 'No'!
Technology is neither good nor bad - it's how we use it that matters, to us as individuals and as a community. I bought it primarily for hanging out in the Athlete's Village for 2+ hours before the start of the Boston Marathon. No, I won't be tuning out the whole time, because I want to meet people and talk to people. But when I start warming up, alone, I may enjoy this technology as away to tune out the masses and the energy around me, just a bit. There is something to getting jazzed up to music you enjoy prior to a race, and I'm always blasting my car stereo when I drive to races (assuming I'm alone;).
Will I ever run with it? I don't think so because I enjoy running alone and quiet, even when the world around me isn't. I will NEVER race with one. I believe that one aspect of racing is the community coming together, and that can't happen when everyone's in their own worlds. Be honest - when you're plugged in there is a degree to which you are removed from those around you.
Has this distraction gone too far? What do you think?
“When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience, and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; culture-death is a clear possibility.” ― Neil Postman