I got my first iPod in the summer of 2021. I got the small nano model that would be easy for carrying with me on a run. I had just started running and needed all the noise possible to drown out my huffing and puffing. Among that noise was the gentle sounds of Ben Gibbard’s voice. Gibbard is the lead singer for Death Cab for Cutie. I was thrilled to learn that as I began my painful path to becoming a runner, listening to him through my headphones, he was beginning his own running journey, too.
Ben was recently highlighted in the “I’m a Runner” feature of Runner’s World Magazine’s February 2021 issue. He explained how he began an unexpected quest to becoming a runner in 2021. Just like many young adults, the unhealthy lifestyle Gibbard could get away with in his 20s began to catch up to him. He also explained how he used running as a good habit to replace some of his bad habits, such as heavy drinking.
Gibbard’s description of the pains and struggles he felt just getting his body to run those first few miles was entertaining. “I had to wage a war of attrition with my own body. One day, my knee would hurt. The next day, my ankles would hurt, then my shins would hurt. That went on for months.”
Even a rockstar can’t escape the humble, dirty side of running that all beginners must go through.
After Gibbard’s body accepted its fate he began increasing mileage and finally experienced the reason so many keep running for life, the runner’s high.
“Once I felt that, I thought, This is what people are talking about! I had to earn it. It wasn’t just going to come out on those early runs. It was that euphoric point everyone talks about. And like so many drugs, your next high is never as high as your first time, so you’re left chasing that initial high.”
Again, just like so many runners do, Gibbard chose to take his running to another level and decided to tackle the marathon. Gibbard trained and ran the LA Marathon on March 20, 2021. There was a downpour the day of the race that lasted the entire 26.2 miles. Gibbard explained how the rain added challenges to the run.
“Attached to this very difficult thing–running a marathon–we were all doing it after basically jumping in a pool.” Gibbard completed his first marathon soaking wet in 3:56:54.
I enjoyed learning of his entire journey. I loved that the runner’s experience is so universal. It hurts, it’s hard to stick with, but it’s never a regret. As I wheezed over his lyrics in 2021, I never thought I’d make a second mile, let alone a full marathon. I think Gibbard stole the words out of any marathoner’s mouth when he reflected back on his finish.
“The marathon was the most difficult thing I’ve done in my life. To get through that, it made me realize I can get through anything. It really did shift something in my brain, flipped a switch I didn’t even realize was there. Whenever someone I know says, “I could never do that.” I think: That’s exactly what I thought! It proves anyone can do it.”
Image via Runner’s World