Against the advice of elite athletes and their supporters (Toni, I'm looking at you!), I do usually run with my iPod Shuffle. Of course, when I'm lucky enough to be running with warm blooded panting partners, I leave the Shuffle at home, but my long runs are getting up around the 20km mark these days and that's a long time to entertain yourself when I have to run alone. I used to check out audio books from the library and rip them to my iTunes to listen while pounding the pavement. That got tedious, especially since public media like library CDs get treated like shit and are often scratched and useless. I got with the times - I found podcasts.
Virtually anyone with a little internet knowhow can create and distribute a podcast, and the running community got on board fairly quickly. Now I subscribe to a few running podcasts from people like Nigel at Running From the Reaper and I get virtual company on my runs. You can hear the podcaster breathing and hear his or her feet striking the ground, and outside noises like birdsong and traffic often get confusing since it can be hard to tell if they are in your own environment or were previously recorded in the British countryside by Nigel. I really enjoy the running podcasts and they often are very informative about running tips and upcoming races or events; more often they are just good company though the 'conversation' is at the mercy of whatever the podcaster is thinking about that day. I also find that my pace adjusts to match the pace of the podcaster, which usually means I speed up a bit to match Nigel's pace.
I also subscribe to a few podcasts of radio shows, from CBC and from NPR. On CBC I like Quirks and Quarks, even though the summer has been a season of reruns of shows I listened to in January and February, and Ideas. On NPR I now subscribe to This American Life, a show devoted to the uncanny inanity of life in the northwest hemisphere and often featuring the hilarious David Sedaris, and Fresh Air, a more political and somewhat serious show that hosts interesting people covering a variety of topics, some topical and some random. This week, This American Life looked at romantic break ups. I really enjoyed the podcast so I thought I'd host it here for some of you to listen to while you're doing the dishes or flying to Ghana or cleaning up cat puke or even, dare I say it, running!
The podcast features a girl who is trying to recover from a bad breakup. She claims the relationship was the most cheesy, corny relationship ever, even to the point that they listened to Phil Collins together and eventually both honestly began to appreciate the Genesis band mate's romantic croonings. So, somehow, the girl gets a hold of Phil Collins' contact info, and phones him! She tells him about the breakup and asks him about his heartbreaks, and decides to write a breakup song. Eventually she writes and records a song, and phones him back to play it for him. This segment was really quite hilarious. Who the hell phones Phil Collins? Anyway, the podcast also includes a child of divorced parents recorded twenty years ago and now, at the age of 29, a father who is currently divorcing his wife, and some other minor contributions. An interesting listen. I hope you appreciate it too. If you have any trouble listening to the MP3, you can search for This American Life on iTunes Podcasts. Shouldn't be hard to find.