Apple Watch support for podcasts and audiobooks is great news for runners

Having a good podcast cued up for streaming might cause some to actually look forward to workouts. Apple’s announcements at its WWDC developer conference consisted of plenty of additional features for the company’s four main operating systems—but no real major news and no new hardware. So while some of the individual updates were significant, it wasn’t easy to sew it all together into a larger theme about the direction of the company. It was also easy to gloss over individual features that might make a big difference to users. One of those was the new support for podcasts in the Apple Watch via watchOS 5.

This is an important step for the Watch because it is a fitness device, and podcasts can play a big role in fitness. Here’s why: For my runs I’m always looking for something, anything, to distract me from the pain. A fitness expert explained that this is a common desire even among serious athletes. They’re looking for “dissociation;” that is, they’re trying to separate their mind from the punishing work they’re putting their bodies through. Then, during a real race, athletes train themselves to be very present and in the moment, so that they can put everything they have into their performance.

Music can fulfill this dissociative function for me, I find, but only for relatively short lengths of time. I don’t remember the last time I was held rapt by a whole album of music (about the length of a run), but it was a long time ago and I’m not sure I was sober (it could have been Dark Side of The Moon). But that’s just me; many people I know must have a carefully chosen playlist going while they work out. I imagine that type represents the majority and that’s why Apple enabled streaming Apple Music (long before podcasts) after the launch of the Apple Watch 3, the one with the cellular broadband connection.

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