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On the Run with Sam: The Joys of the "Unplugged" Run

While running some miles at the 24-Hour Fight Against Hunger at the end of October, it occurred to me about three laps in that I had forgotten to bring my phone. Typically, I carry it for safety purposes and for music or podcasts. Not having it with me is very atypical. So, this brings me to my question: why did it take me so long to realize that it wasn’t with me?

All too often I think many people, myself included, try to tune out a run. One explanation for “tuning out” is that it helps pass the time or allows us to not spend time alone with our thoughts. The art and beauty of a run, though, is that the run itself can be an escape without having to add noise. Running without the distraction of music allows time to reflect on the day or think about what you want to buy at the grocery store. 

On this run, I had been excited for the event and to get to run with a friend. We weren’t running at the same pace this particular evening, but I knew he’d be out there on the loop too and I wasn’t alone and felt safe (as there were a handful of others at that hour).

It is easy to throw on some headphones or play out loud what you want to listen to, but sometimes, the strength of a runner doesn’t come from how far or how fast you run, but the resilience you have to be in the moment of that run and think about it as you take each step.

Even always having someone to run with and keeping a conversation going takes you out of the run. Yes, you will still feel the run while connecting with someone, but you’re focused on the conversation rather than being present in the activity. 

This month, as the days get shorter and the air gets colder, I challenge you to make time for an “unplugged” run or two. I believe that this keeps some fun in the run and lets your mind wander. We all have the time to listen to music on our drives to work, school, and to do errands, but how often do we let our minds rest and be present in a moment where we are doing something for ourselves? Not often enough. 

If running without music or someone to accompany you is not an option, try to take some mindful minutes before or after the run to settle down and be present. 

Now get out there and have some fun!

-- Samantha Simmons

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