The other Sunday my husband and I ran the Fleet Half Marathon. It was my first running event since returning to the UK after living in KL for 3 years. Having done a couple in the Asian heat I was looking forward to doing one in daylight with no prospect of actually melting. I’d trained enthusiastically and thanks to the motivation of statistics given to me by a new fangled trendy app, my time per km was starting to look a bit respectable (for a 44 year old robust chick anyway).
We arrived in the park the recommended hour before the start a little nervous but to coin a phrase – well up for it, when suddenly this happened:
It became apparent that suddenly no headphones were allowed. Not only that they were vilified beyond belief. The happy and motivational DJ was banging out tunes with little links wishing everyone luck then with a distinct voice change adding that wearing headphones would be considered a proper actual crime and you would be disqualified… and here’s George Michael with FREEEEDOM!!!!!
For the first 10 minutes I wandered around with my earphones round my neck saying to anyone who would listen…”that’s not real right?” Then I got angry and found myself saying stuff like, “that’s ridiculous”, “I can’t do it without music”, “I wouldn’t have entered”. I began to annoy myself, whiney little minx I was. Then, after considering about 238 ways of hiding the headphone cable we decided to conscientiously rebel armed with claims of recent repatriation and not yet being acclimatised as our defence.
We ran the race with not a single moment of apparent danger bar a stern look from a lady towards the end. The thing was I didn’t feel triumphant or smug or proud of myself for being naughty, I felt dirty. I felt like the criminal they said I was. Some of my running pleasure was lost. You see, I have loved running with music for 25 years. I love it. It’s my thing. In recent years it’s the only time I can listen to anything other than Jake and the Neverland pirates (they are not an Indie band). It’s the time I dance in my head. I’m 44 man! I am no longer a viable proposition for nightclubs. The only place I can enjoy funky disco with the occasional 90s indie is at a certain kind of wedding and all my friends of that genre are married already.
If they take away my running music I’m done! The only place to go from here is line dancing (and I will do it with an achey breaky heart and an ironic stetson!).
In my pursuit of a happy ending I decided to research this phenomenon. I genuinely had never heard of it. I came across a few debates on running sites and blogs. There were the real athletes (cough, running snobs) who claimed those who ran with music were not proper runners, if “one” couldn’t enjoying running without music they should find another sport (cough, swear word + preposition). No! I don’t run with music because I find it boring without… I just find running with to be EXCELLENT! Another claimed runners with headphones swerved across roads (err, no if you see my swerving across the road I’m likely inebriated and have stumbled across your race accidentally – swerve across the road??? Really?). Another claimed the tinny sound coming from headphones was annoying – pffft… well, if that’s a problem overtake me because you are clearly BIONIC!
But for the real point which is of course safety, which I sort of get – but no… I don’t get. In an organised road race even on bits of road where cars are passing, my headphones do not feel dangerous. I was a member of the Tufty club for flips sake. I understand road dangers, I have a healthy respect the moving car. They claimed I wouldn’t be able to hear the marshalls. I could though, I really could and if there was danger I sure as heck would have got the message via means of gesticulation. I’ve run for 25 years with music, a lot of miles on pathless country roads with actual combine harvesters. I’ve felt danger not once – apart from maybe when ACDC is on and that was merely the danger of rock.
So to conclude, I say PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE running world.. don’t take away my music. Please! Pretty please. I’ll keep the volume down. I’ll watch marshalls like a hawk. I’ll never listen to euphoric garage. I won’t swerve across the road. I won’t, I don’t!