On this January day, I did something a little different. I left my iPod at home and went for a run. Now normally, I’d tell you that I can’t run without my music, but that’s not exactly the case. It’s that I choose not to run without my music because running doesn’t excite me. I just like the fringe benefits.
Not having my music changed my running experience completely. I wasn’t tied up in DJ Khalil’s “All I do is win” mantra or Kanye West’s blubbering. I was alone with my thoughts, my breathing, my rhythm, my surroundings. I brainstormed and reminisced.
I thought about the enjoyment I got from running in the Cayman Islands last summer. Determined not to miss a day of training before my upcoming triathlon, I ran through the neighborhood outside the resort. It gave me a totally different feel for the island. For one, I gratefully realized how flat it was.
Second, I noticed that there were no sidewalks to run on. The streets seemed never-ending, forcing me to play self-motivating mental games. “Just make it to the end of the road, just make it to the end of the road”, I gasped to myself through the Caymanian heat.
The free-roaming chickens and the bastardly-looking iguanas made for good distractions. I tracked them with my eyes as I passed them making sure they wouldn’t attack. They were un-phased by both me and the humidity, clucking and slithering on with their little lives.
Locals passed by, either walking or running, and at those moments I felt like one of them. I didn’t feel like a tourist, I didn’t feel like an outsider. We were all doing the same thing.
Exercising outdoors in another country can give you a different perspective of a place. You see more, you smell more, you hear more, you taste more. I had a chance to take in the architectural details of the homes and imagine myself living there. I didn’t notice any of those things when we were driving around in the rental, which, I might say, is akin to me running with the “noise” of my music when I’m at home – just trying to get from A to Z but missing all the beauty of the details in between.