My runs up until now have been as much a battle with my own psychology as well as my fitness. Not listening to anything wasn’t very enjoyable but listening to music wasn’t enough to distract my poor brain from realising it was sitting in a body that was running.
If music wasn’t quite doing the job, then perhaps an audio book might be better and force me to focus on what I was listening to, rather than the act of running. I love audio books and I’ve got loads but I heard about something that’s specifically designed to get you running and is also an immersive audio adventure:
You buy the app for your phone (costs about £2.50), and, just like Runkeeper, you set it going as you run. Just like Runkeeper, it tracks your speed, distance etc., and can also play your music but, unlike Runkeeper, it’s a game.
You’re on a special mission. You’re being flown into a base that houses about 60 survivors of a zombie plague. But the plane you’re in gets hit by rocket fire and you parachute down into the woods outside the base….where the zombies live. However, you’re in audio communication with the base and they instruct you (they call you “Runner 5”), where to go to pick up supplies before you bring them to the base. They also warn you when the zombies are right on your tail!
As the music plays, a Stephen Hawking sounding voice cuts in to tell you what supplies you’ve managed to collect (medicine, food etc.). In between tracks, you hear from the characters at the base. When any zombies are gaining on you, they tell you to “RUN!”. There is an optional “zombie chase” mode on the app which, if turned on, plays a beeping sound over the sound of the zombies. If the beeping gets quicker, it means the zombies are getting closer, so you need to speed up to escape them (if you get caught, you lose supplies). I’ve actually got this turned off for the moment as I’m only just getting into this running lark and don’t really want to induce a heart attack!
Nevertheless, as I listened, I realised that my fired up imagination was gently helping my brain to look the other way and my running was feeling far more comfortable. When the music was playing I was thinking: “that building over there’s the hospital. I need to pick up some med kits” (incidentally, the “building” in this instance was represented by a nearby tree) and when the zombie warnings came, I did find that I picked up the pace a little.
It may also have helped that the air temperature was a little warmer this time and the sun was out but I’m really pleased that my brain didn’t seem to be fighting me as much, thanks to it being forced to focus more on something else.
As I mentioned, the app generates all the same sorts of stats as Runkeeper (though this one also shows you your pace per music track) and you can share your runs with Facebook and Twitter. You can also share your activities so they’re viewable in Runkeeper. I’m particularly pleased about this as I was worried my Runkeeper account would become redundant.
This may only have been my third run, but I think both psychologically and physically it’s been my best so far. This app has, I think, managed to trigger enough of a distraction for my brain that it can just let me get on with the business of running…..and enjoy it!
So, if you want to try something different to listen to as you run, I can really recommend being chased by a hoarde of zombies! ;D