Stories of an Everyday Runner: The Phone

My phone reminds me today is an easy run. A short, slow run of just under 2 miles. Good. I’m not feeling like a run today, but I want to be able to run a 10k in the fall, so I head out to complete my training run. My phone is kind of bossy.

Tonight, I walk with a friend, so I head up early to pound out a couple miles before she arrives. We walk at a track. Not an official running track, but a .3 mile circle. It isn’t the most inspiring place to run, but it is convenient. I should finish my miles just in time for my friend to join me for a walk.

When I arrive at the track, I pull my phone out to start my workout. You might be surprised to learn I do not own a Garmin. I use an app to track my miles and coach me to a 10k. I tuck my phone into my belt (a glorified mini fanny pack) and start warming up on the track.

The shadows are growing longer as the sun lowers in the sky and the heat of the day is starting to fade. Several people are out enjoying the break from the heat to get in a little exercise. I love seeing so many people out trying to better their health. It isn’t overly crowded, just a steady pace of people.

I start running around the circle. Since I know this place so well, I do more people watching than nature observing. Often people bring their dogs out, with leashes, to walk with them. I’m used to seeing dogs, I see a lot of families, a couple or a couple of friends walking, and others are alone, like me (at least until my friend arrives).

What I don’t normally see are people walking around the track with their phone up to their ear, but tonight I saw it twice. The first was an older man, and by old I mean older than me) and the second was a younger girl (younger than me). I’m not sure why this fascinated me, but I couldn’t help but wonder who they were talking to. Did talking to someone while they walked help them forget the number of trips around the track? Didn’t they keep count of the number of times they circled?

One part of me thought it made perfect sense to talk to someone on the phone while they walked. They probably walked longer and farther by distracting themselves with conversation. It isn’t much different than what I planned to do after running, walk with a friend. It just happens that the person isn’t actually present.

Another part of me thought they should put down the phone and be present in the moment. It is just a circle with the same scenery repeating lap after lap, but it still seemed wrong to me to be on the phone. When I walk or run outside and I am alone, I don’t have electronic distractions beyond my running app informing me of my progress every mile. I don’t listen to music or podcasts like when I’m on the treadmill. When I’m outside, it is just me and the environment.

It started out as a safety thing. People always tell you not to run with headphones so you can hear what is going on around you. It didn’t take long before I preferred to run outside without headphones. Music is nice and it does help to develop a rhythm, but I enjoy listening to the sounds of the run. Cars driving by, people chatting, birds chirping, squirrels rustling in the bushes (Ok, the last one kind of startles me sometimes). The point is, I would miss out on the music of the run if I had on earphones.

Though I do like to see runners without earbuds, I don’t have the same reaction when I see people running with music. It has to be because these people were on the phone. Apparently, I harbor ill feelings toward phones.

Still, I am happy to see them out, enjoying the day, and getting some exercise. That is the important thing. Whatever it takes to get and stay healthy.

What are your thoughts on phones and music while running/walking outside?

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