The essential ingredient that has been missing from my new exercise program arrived with my wife on Friday night. It's my new iPod. My teenaged daughter had been patiently trying to coax me back into setting the entire world to music, but I in my wisdom resisted. Wisdom has to sleep sometime and when it dozed off I broke out and went iJoggling: jogging, juggling, and iPod.

I've been going to the Polo Fields for a few months and chugging around and around the track to put in five miles. Usually I pick up a latte from Alvin the amiable Armenian and he makes them good and hot. Hot enough they are that I can chug around the track and stop for a few sips of coffee on the first two or three laps.

But I have to count carefully because my mind tries to trick me into thinking I'm one ahead of where I actually am, because it isn't having fun. It's being dutiful. It's really looking for the end of the run and to going home with the satisfaction of having done a workout. And if it detects any weakness of will, It's looking for the end of the run before the end of the run.

"Hey, you don't have to do the same thing every time. Just do four laps today. Start coming every day instead of every other day and do a minimum of four ..." Weakness attracts justifications like honey draws flies.

Then I began to think about joggling. I took some juggling bean bags with me a couple of times to see if I could jog and juggle at the same time. It was an improvement, and I realized that while I could drift off jogging around the track, when I was keeping three bags in the air I had to focus all the time, and the focus was in my whole body, because I had to coordinate the movement of my feet and hands. I couldn't go the same speed, so it became more a movement exercise than running per se.

"What I'm missing is the music," I said. "I'm going to get an iPod and that will put it all together."

My wife heard me say that a few times and finally just got me one. She likes to shop online, and she especially likes to shop for Apple products, because she loves the company.

"The thing that concerns me, " I said, "is that you stay in San Francisco too long, and anything you come up with seems normal. But then you see somebody skating around in a thong and winged helmet, playing a concertina, and you wonder, 'How did it start? Was this person trying to make his workout more interesting, and one thing led to another?'"

"The kid's will love you," she said.

"Yea, there's that."

This morning I fumbled around with the new iPod a little to see where it would ride. It ended up clipped on the back of my sweatpants, and the music swelled into my brain as I began moving along, not focused on my speed anymore, but on the deliberate coordination of my rhythm to the rhythm of the music. I was listening to the sound track from Fahrenheit 911. and juggling, and moving around the track effortlessly this time. I put in five miles and though I had worked up a good sweat, I wasn't tired at all. I was energized.

I am enjoying being wired to music again after a long spell away from it. I am thinking of my daughter, and how I was being testy with her for being wired to her iPod all the time. Now all we need to do is get the same playlist, and synchronize our iPods, and we will relate perfectly well.

Posted: Tue - April 12, 2005 at 10:51 PM