EXPLOREMY LIBRARY
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Canadian Running

UNPLUGGED

(Russ Tudor)

There is something special to me about my ritualistic Sunday morning run. Particularly after a long week, the time that I get to spend in “my zone” is recharging and therapeutic. It is my chance to distance myself from the world and take a break from the stresses that are an inevitable part of life.

Over the years, I have developed a routine around my Sunday morning runs. I enjoy them most of all because they are not as constrained as those during the week before heading to work. While I do not really have all the time in the world to spend jaunting about on Sunday mornings, it can certainly feel that way. I strap on my watch, put in my earbuds and off I go – for a brief moment, feeling as though I do not have a care in the world beyond pounding the pavement and getting my heart rate up.

My playlist means the world to me. It keeps me motivated, helps me escape and can give me that extra push I need when the right song comes on when I’m struggling. I do not have to worry about my pace or distance, as that information gets captured automatically and is easily accessible. I do enjoy modern run-tracking technology and always feel extra accomplished when I “pad my stats” by running that little bit longer on a Sunday morning.

So, there I was, regularly making full use of the technology to record my runs and enjoy my tunes when one Sunday my watch would not charge.

At first, I figured I would just give it a little extra time, maybe head out for my run a little later than usual. After all, it was Sunday, so my schedule was relaxed. Some time passed. Nothing changed. My watch refused to show any sign of life. I started to worry that I would waste my whole morning waiting, so decided to go on without it.

While disappointed that my run would not make my electronic record book, I still had my phone and earbuds to get me into the zone, so off I went.

I cannot say for sure if it was divine intervention, a bad tech day or a failure on my part to pay adequate attention to charging but, would you believe that my earbuds died during the first song on my playlist? For a moment, I was devastated. With no tunes, no way to track my pace or distance and the weekend morning hours slipping away, I had to make a tough decision: pass on my favourite run of the week, or run it in a way I never had before.

I decided to go for it.

As I ran about my neighbourhood that fateful Sunday morning, I put time, distance and music out of my mind. For once, I paid attention to my surroundings. I felt breezes I had never noticed before, enjoyed nature all around me and ventured around parts of my community I had never explored. I had a blast!

I always bring along my gear when travelling, as I find going for a run is a good way to explore a city. I do this armed with my technology. With my tunes in my ear, my route is recorded as some form of electronic souvenir. This experience was different entirely. At one point, I wondered to myself if this is what running in the ’80s felt like.

While I do not think that I could wholeheartedly suggest we all ditch our technology and run unplugged all the time, my “off the grid” experience rekindled something inside of me. It made me look at running differently, appreciating the sport in a new way. So, I share my experience and encourage fellow runners to consider, just once, ditching your technology and just going for a run.

Marc Bhalla is a mediator and arbitrator from Toronto. He is not capable of parting entirely with his running technology but found the experience he shared to be empowering.

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