Monday, 18 February 2013

Music While You Workout

Are you an avid fan of distraction while you workout, do you watch the TV, listen to music, etc? Do you need to, in order to keep you motivated, relieve the boredom or do you do it because it’s there. What would happen if you didn’t have the distraction?

I may have mentioned it before but I’m not a fan of using an ipod whilst running, to me it’s a distraction too far and inhibits my ability to concentrate on important things, like the car that’s coming up behind me. I can’t relax with one dangling from my ears, much like I can’t run in a hood, it tends to obscure my peripheral vision. I also don’t like to see girls, on their own, running in secluded areas with loud music coming out of their ears. Race organisers state that you shouldn’t wear them in their races, you can’t always hear instructions shouted at you or hear things coming up behind you, quite rightly they are concerned for your safety, but it doesn’t stop people running with them.

When portable music devices first came out we didn’t expect to see anyone with a running reputation using one, but I remember my old training partner, Charlie Dickinson, telling me he caught international athlete, Kassa Tadessa wearing one in training. Since then a number of good athletes have admitted to using them during training.

Non of this really tempted me to try it, I do some of my best thinking when I’m running. Though I do admit to having my music blaring away when I’m doing a session in my gym, though I don’t always hear it as I concentrate hard on what I’m doing, or dream of my next victory. Having said that, one time this summer, when I knew I was going out for an easy run in Tatton Park, I decided to try running with an ipod, after all many of the modern apparel items seem to cater for the ipod, and I thought I should at least see what it’s like for others. I tried it and I really didn’t like it. I just couldn’t relax and had a pretty dismal running experience. So I’ve not run with it since.

But, I can understand why people use ipods or the tv channels whilst using gym equipment. I do find long sessions on gym equipment a bit tedious, though I use various tactics to make them bearable. When I lived in London I had a TV up in my office/gym and I will admit that watching sport not only distracted me from how tedious using a machine can be but also it made me work harder, the more competitive the sport the better. (I mean competitive in a fast action sort of way, e.g. rowing, cycling, rugby, football, running. I don’t think cricket or snooker would have the same effect, in fact I think it would have made me give up my session early).

I’ve seen people, at the gym, reading the paper, a magazine, or a book, whilst they’re working out. I can only assume that they aren’t working out very hard. However, last week, when I was able to do a slow 20 minute cycle at Cottons, I tried it and managed to read the whole paper without noticing how tedious the session was. Mind you I wouldn’t want to read whilst cycling hard, it would take away my concentration and I’d probably sweat all over the paper.

So, my personal experience is that I don’t generally need or want distractions during my workouts, I don’t need procrastination tactics, such as conversations with fellow gym goers or extra drink stops. I prefer to get on with my session and then relax with something to read afterwards. But I’m willing to accept that I do have a certain type of mindset, that maybe sets me aside from some other people, and what I like doing may not be what others like doing. So I’m not going to preach, but I would suggest you take extra care when exercising outside with music, oh and it’s not a good idea to run outside whilst reading the paper.

I recall, some years ago, a race meeting organised in a Kingston car park. It was a series of qualifiers and a final, all run while music was blaring out. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make it, but some pretty good runners did. I believe it was enjoyed by all but maybe it wasn’t that successful financially, as I’ve not heard of anything like it since.

I’m still unable to run, it’s not become the drag one would expect, I guess I’ve trained so hard for so long that my mind, as well as my body, is enjoying it’s little holiday. Though I have to say it’s a little irritating limping everywhere. I am improving, but I know this is going to be a slow recovery and, as I now have nothing to aim for, I’m not going to rush back into training. This Saturday it gave me an opportunity to give something back to the parkrun family, I volunteered at Congleton parkrun, and no it wasn’t so I could maintain my position at the top of the points league, though I have done that. It was nice to watch others taking part and have the time to chat to other volunteers. Unfortunately I was busy in the afternoon so couldn’t repeat my volunteering for Salford at the last SE Lancs league. Going into this event I had a chance of winning the overall M45 title, but the fact that I couldn’t run meant that I wouldn’t have run enough races and therefore I had to forfeit that. Oh well, that’s just the way it is and to be honest, despite this little upset to my training and competing, I’ve had the best start to a year for many years. I know things will be slow for a while, when I start back, but I’m hoping I’ll be back to some good form by the last quarter of the year, though preferably before.

Written by Roger Alsop

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