A few days ago, I ran a 7-kilomter run and, for a change, decided to listen to an audiobook instead of the usual lively music tunes. Loaded in my iPhone was The Silkworm, Robert Galbraith’s follow-up take to The Cuckoo’s Calling, a book that took me time to complete but was still a satisfying and highly recommended book. For those who don’t follow news on novels and authors, Robert Galbraith is actually J. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, who, in the author’s “other” website, decided to take a pseudonym to “to work without hype or expectation and to receive totally unvarnished feedback.” I wasn’t a fan of the Harry Potter books, but after reading The Cuckoo’s Calling, I am impressed with Rowling’s style and writing prowess. I am looking forward to more crime stories from Galbraith!
I have been listening to audiobooks for many years now, predominantly during the times that I would drive to work. I have always been an avid reader – I started reading novels as early as Grade 6 – but priorities at work kept me away from reading. Thus I turned to audiobooks. Because it would take me about an hour to drive to work and another hour to drive home from work, listening to audiobooks in the car would be the best way for me to “read.”
Just like this runner, my music playlist was becoming stale. I already had a running playlist but I found that I was playing the same songs over and over again. I needed a change so I thought of giving audio books a try.
I thought that it would be difficult listening to an audiobook while running. I thought that I wouldn’t be able to follow the story. Surprisingly it wasn’t that hard as long as I kept running at an easy (i.e., zone 2) pace. In fact, listening to audiobooks could aid me in keeping my runs easy because if I had to dial down the pace so I could continue to follow the story. I definitly coiuldn’t listen to an audiobook during fast tempo or interval runs, let alone running a race. My mind would be focused on trying to sustain a fast pace.
The problem I have with audiobooks is that my programmed audio cues would break the story at odd and sometimes critical junctures. To ensure that I maintained a zone 2 HR, I had programmed my running app (iSmoothRun) to provide me audio cues of my heart rate and pace. So sometimes, in the middle of the story, possibly at a critical plot point or dialogue, iSmoothRun would tell me to run faster or slower. To lessen the times that it would break the story momentum, I programmed the app to provide the cues every kilometer and I lessened the information to just the pace and heart rate, lessening the time for listening to running cues instead of the audiobook. In hindsight, the pace info is superfluous since all I needed to track was heart rate!
The other problem with audiobooks is that it could be difficult when there is distracting ambient noise around me. Airplanes fly overhead and it would drown out the words coming out of my headphones. Traffic with the droning sound of car engines and the cacophony of honking horns would also overwhelm the audiobook. I don’t want to increase the audiobook volume as my ears would pay for it and it is cumbersome to stop and press a button to replay the last 30 seconds.