A couple of months ago, I woke up early for my usual workout. I pulled on running clothes and shoes, fastened my hair back and reached for my iPod. Instantly, my stomach clenched as I looked down at the angry red color indicating the battery was dead. How was I supposed to go for a 5-mile run without Fergie, Gwen and Justin urging me on? Heading out into the hot Southern California summer sans music, I braced myself for a horrible workout.
Yet as my body began warming up, I noticed something startling. I felt great.
My muscles moved in concert, propelling my body along the shrub-lined jogging path. I took notice of the smooth rhythm of my stride and, hearing only the sound of my footsteps and panting breaths, I felt in sync with my body. My head was clear, no longer occupied with finding the song that would get me to the crest of a hill or keep my resistant quads in motion. I felt free, unencumbered, like an animal moving through nature -- not an image-conscious twentysomething attempting to fit into her skinny jeans.
When I came to my typical turnaround point, I almost regretted that I needed to head back.
Normally, time constraints give a welcome structure to the tempo of my run or workout, but on this day, I wanted to remain in my unburdened state -- away from the chaos, away from the noise and static that attack me from all angles in the real world.
I hadn’t realized how reliant I’ve become upon filling every moment with noise. As soon as I get home from work, I turn on Anderson Cooper’s broadcast to counter the quiet emptiness of my apartment. When I walk over to my local health market for milk, I take my cellphone and use the 10 minutes to catch up with my mother.
I have become so programmed to cancel out the silence that I’ve forgotten how nice the sound of silence (and the voice in my head) can be.
Growing up, I’d scoff at my parents when they said, “Silence is golden.” To my unreceptive young ears, it seemed like a weak ploy to get me to stop chattering.
Yet on my next run, again sans the assistance of my now fully charged iPod, I began to wonder if their words held deeper meaning. As relaxation overtook my body, running served as a remedy to that fight with my best friend and critique from my co-worker, rather than a punishing activity to combat the growth of fat cells on my thighs.
Does this mean I’ll never let the beat of Justin Timberlake’s “SexyBack” get me through another workout? Probably not, but I’m starting to find silence kind of catchy as well.
Diana Hossfeld is an assistant in television series development. She lives in the Los Angeles area. The forum My Turn encourages readers to recount an experience or air an opinion related to health or fitness. To submit an article, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Health, 202 W. 1st St., L.A., CA 90012. Articles should be 500 words or shorter.