I tried something new on my long run and bike this weekend -- podcasts. I usually have my iPod shuffle on while I work out; the music motivates me and pumps me up. (I keep it on a low volume, though, b/c I still like to be aware of my surroundings, especially on the bike; in fact, I turn it off in high traffic areas.) Lately, though, I've left the iPod behind to enjoy the sounds of Mother Nature, a riding partner I'm with or even just my own breathing.
But Saturday, I found a new addiction. I downloaded a bunch of free podcasts on iTunes of the Competitor Radio Show, as well as some podcasts from Triathlete Magazine and others. (Search "triathlon" on iTunes.) I've only listened to Competitor Radio so far, and man is it entertaining to hear Bob Babbit -- who I love and admire so much -- and Paul Huddle talk to some amazing athletes: Craig Alexander fresh off his win in Kona; Dean Karnazes, whose interview was done while he was literally running during his 700-mile "mission to mission" run (he ran from Sonoma County to San Diego, stopping at all the CA missions on the way); Norman Stadler, Mark Allen and many more. The best part is, there are endless podcasts, which means hours of pure triathlon and endurance sports entertainment!
Some people I've talked to can't imagine concentrating on a radio show while working out. My dad is definitely one of those people, but then again, he spends hours just trying to get music onto an iPod. It's a valid point -- I mean, I don't know how people read books and magazines on cardio machines at the gym, are you kidding me? -- but to be honest, having a podcast fill my brain made me faster! It diverts the focus away from looking at the watch, you forget about any tiredness, fatigue or even boredom, and you just go while hearing amazing stories.
In my opinion, it's a great way to spice up training. I can learn the stories and personalities of all the athletes I admire so much. I mean, I didn't know Faris Al-Sultan covers up his power meter cause he just doesn't want to know, I didn't know the story behind Mark Allen's sixth Kona win (and holy shit is it a story!), I didn't know Andy Potts' wife battled cancer or that Ryan Hall adds GUs into his water bottles.... I could go on for a while from all I learned in just two workouts!
With all those hours spent working out, why not learn something while you're at it?