November 4, 2016

The Case for Running with Music

Did you get the memo that running with music makes you lame? I did when I read Ultrarunning Magazine's "Bud People" (double entendre intended?), which begins, "I feel sorry for the Bud People. We only have five senses with which to enjoy our running, and they blithely toss one of them away."

Ahem, looks like it's time to push my flannel plaid, Kurt-Cobain-loving sleeves up to my wimpy runner elbows and have a serious talk about what I'm going to call Music Shaming. Music Shaming: the professing of a superior love of nature and all things running based on a lower desire to use music to heighten one's running experience. 

Ever wondered what Jaws would have been without the dun uh, dun uh, dunuhdunuhdunuhdunuh? It would have been Finding Nemo, that's what. 


There is a reason soundtracks make the movies!

What would Easy Rider be without Steppenwolf? It'd be more like PeeWee's Big Adventure. Alamo or not.


Ferris Bueller without the "oh yeah" of Yello? It's just you and your friends acting lame, hanging out in the family garage.


And try for two seconds to imagine Kevin Bacon angry dancing around that barn in Footloose without the song "Never." And Rocky running up those stairs without "Gonna Fly Now." Now stop imagining, because you never started in the first place, because that's impossible to imagine those scenes without those kick-a songs.



And if you replace Alison Krauss in this scene from O Brother Where Art Thou with this theme song from Nightmare on Elm Street, you get something exponentially creepier. See, music makes the experience. It can take you to a spiritual high, or drag you down to a demon's lair.



Seriously, watch that O Brother clip on mute while playing the Nightmare on Elm Street song. That's messed up. With Alison Krauss it's all happy and love Jesus, with Nightmare on Elm street it's all, we're going down here to drown ourselves and probably as many small children as we can find on our spooky-looking walk to the river.

Oh, and running. I almost forgot that this post was about music AND running. Music can work the same magic in your running. When I run without music, I love the trees and rocks and roots and bird songs. When I run with music, like "June Hymn," the ivy waves at me, the snot rockets glisten in the early morning light, the roots paint a picture in the earth, the kicked-up dust reaches out and hugs my lungs and I high five it in return. Stuff like that. 

When I listen to "Let's Get Lost" out on the trails, every hill leads to a rainbow (probably with a unicorn at the top), every rock is covering a probable entrance to middle-earth, every tree is whispering to me to climb it (but I can't because, duh, I'm running right now). 

I'm not saying let's be irresponsible with music. Of course only use one earbud pretty much always because you need to hear the barreling-around-the-next-curve bikers, about-to-pounce-you animals, and speedy-enough-to-pass-Kilian-on-single-track-up-the-mountain trail runners. Of course when you are running down the street, you absolutely have to be able to hear traffic for safety reasons. Of course you should take out your one earbud to talk to aid station volunteers who are trying to lend you a hand and to listen to race director instructions at the start line. And of course when you are running with friends, talking to actual human beings takes precedence over listening to music. Unless you are ALL physically unable to talk. Then you are excused go back to option 1. 

But you can absolutely hear birds singing and the wind rushing through the trees while you "Hit the Quan." And next time we're together, let's review the quan and all the ways to hit it. 

And in defense of runners who roll with a speaker playing music out loud, offending your outdoorsy sensibilities. Here's an idea: if you don't like their music, speed up and run past them. Or you can take like six steps back and also not hear Pitbull anymore. It's actually not a big deal at all to do either. This method also works if someone is saying something you don't like (in life or on the internet) or smells a way you don't appreciate. You actually don't even have to be around them. It's weird how legs work. 

So to all the music shamers, pipe down -- I'm having a hard time hearing my music over your complaints. And to all the music shamees, keep on rockin' in the free world.