Bernie Anderson
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Running Without Headphones During 2015's Perfect Month

February 2015 is an ascetically perfect month. Unless, of course, you have one of those calendars that begin on Monday. February 2015 has four perfect Sunday through Saturday weeks, if you are a traditionalist and don't follow the ISO 8601 calendar. I find this oddly satisfying. I don't know why.

My "focus" for February 2015 is running. This year, I'm attempting to have one thing each month to emphasize for personal development. February 2015 is about movements, which, for me, is running. Every day. Without headphones. I'm not going far. It will be at least a mile. So far, not more than an mile and a half. Maybe 2 miles by valentines day. I stopped running in Mongolia. It seems like an excuse, now - but I stopped running while I was there, not because of cold. One can run in the cold. It was more that I felt the air polution was going to be counter-productive to what I was trying to accomplish.

Now, I feel like I'm starting over again.

Now I'm not running with headphones.

There was a day when I did run with headphones and music. Sometimes a podcast. My thinking was that the music would inspire or the podcast would distract from heaving lungs and tired, sore leg muscles. That never worked very well. It didn't matter what genre of music or how interesting the podcast might be, I was never inspired or distracted. My lungs still heaved and my legs still ached.

My decision is to embrace present tense running. Hard core, I know. However, 've found my brain to be more distracting than a podcast. The other day, the only things I heard were the doldrum sounds of my breathing and the rythem of my feet hitting the pavement. It was not interesting. However, this sort of running in the present gave me room to think. To actually think. Ideas came into my head that were fresh and new. It was a beautiful, analog twenty minutes.

While I'm not a native to the digital age in the way that my children are, I've adapted fairly well. Much of my work (and my non-work) involves a screen. There are recent studies showing the kinesthitic value of reading an actual, non-digitized, manually turn the page, book. There's something about a book's topography (left page, right page, four corners, front, back) that is helpful for the human brain. In a 2013 article at The Scientific American, writer Ferris Jabr said, "Turning the pages of a paper book is like leaving one footprint after another on the trail—there's a rhythm to it and a visible record of how far one has traveled. All these features not only make text in a paper book easily navigable, they also make it easier to form a coherent mental map of the text."

Footprints. One foot in front of the other. That's present tense, headphoneless running. It's like reading a book. I'm not going to say that I enjoy the heaving lungs and aching muscles. Who does? I do enjoy what this does for my brain, however.

 An ISO calendar makes February 2015 not so perfect

An ISO calendar makes February 2015 not so perfect

So, as we enter into the second week of the non-ISO 8601 calendar month of February 2015, running every day is my thing. But I'm finding it more than just excercise for the body. It's anolog, present-tense, screen-free time for my brain.

That's liberating.

Note: Next week I'm traveling to Jacksonville, FL for work. I am hoping that at least one of my daily runs will be on the beach rather than a hotel treadmill.

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