Just one short year ago, if I were given the choice between going for a run and plunging my face into a bucket of scorpions I would have gleefully opted for the latter.
I found running hard, painful, but above all else, tedious.
My few aborted attempts at running had been to what I thought was a carefully compiled motivational playlist from my iTunes library. It turns out that Eye of the Tiger is actually no more inspiring than Coming Around Again by Carly Simon, both of which I am a little reluctant to reveal I have on my iPod.
My running career reached an abrupt end and my running equipment was deposited despondently in the rejected fitness regime cupboard alongside a skipping rope, chin-up bar and rowing machine.
That is until a literary friend of mine recommended I resume my efforts, but this time to the soundtrack of an audio book. At that particular time in my life, a vigorous game of Scrabble would cause my lungs to throb, so I resolved that I must return to the road.
To my amazement, I found it a breeze (that’s not strictly true, I did vomit on my first run and then a duck ate my sick, but we don’t need to dwell on that). But in terms of my concentration and mental fortitude I found the whole thing a thoroughly enjoyable proposition.
Being absorbed in a good story proved the very distraction I needed from the act of running itself. Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea propelled me in the space of four weeks from a man who persistently smelled slightly of Greggs sausage rolls to a man who could comfortably run five kilometres in 30 minutes.
The more I speak to other runners (it seems now that I am in their gang) the more common it appears to be for people, of all abilities, to take to the road with audiobooks and podcasts, rather than ‘phat beats’ (as it were) in their ears.
There are several iPhone apps where you can download free books and iTunes also offers some surprisingly cheap options – recently I downloaded the complete Edgar Allen Poe story collection for just £1.99, which made for some rather dark and frankly terrifying runs.
So if, like me, you have eschewed the life of a jogger because you just find it too unspeakably dull, perhaps your inner ear running companion should be more William Faulkner than Willi.I.Am.
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