The only time in my life that I have ever ran while listening to music has been while running on a treadmill. This was more common during my college years since I lived with my parents and they owned a treadmill. It was located in the basement which was unfinished, thus no TV, and playing music was the only way I could manage a few miles while facing a concrete wall.
There are a few reasons I do not run outside while listening to music:
Safety – Most of my runs are ran alone. Even if Jason joins me like last week or this morning, at some point during the run he usually separates from me. Unlike my dad, he tends not to circle back for me thus I’m basically running alone. I know technology has come a long way and there are earbuds available that don’t even fit inside the ears, so that runners can hear outside noise around them. I applaud those efforts, but still feel I am safer when I can hear everything without distraction.
Nature – I feel much more in tune with nature by leaving the tunes at home. This is particularly true when I run on trails. I enjoy listening to the various bird songs and chirps with the occasional chatter from a squirrel. I engage my senses much more and feel more connected to the Earth. It can become a spiritual time, a time to separate from the “real world” of day to day living.
Pacing – Over the past year or two, I have become rather decent at running by pace. I still utilize my Garmin, but for instance this morning Jason wanted to wear it for our 6 miles so I let him. I don’t know what my overall time was, but I knew I was running between 9:30 and 10 min pace. Checking his mile splits upon my finish and knowing roughly how far ahead of me he was, I’m pretty confident I was correct. If I were to run while listening to music I am almost certain I would struggle to maintain a consistent pace. The increased tempo of some songs would likely quicken it while the slower ballads would decrease it.
Hassle – I know there are specific playlists designed for runners which would help control the pacing issue I just described. However, to find the “right” music to use while running seems like an annoyance. The times I ran on the treadmill and used music I would set my iPod to shuffle, but still found myself skipping songs if one wasn’t a good one to run to, or I wasn’t in the mood to listen to a certain one. When I’m running I want to focus on my run, not be distracted by changing the music. On a similar note, I hate ear buds. I will forever be a fan of wrap around headphones though unfortunately the soft part of mine deteriorated awhile ago, and I have yet to replace them. Finding a pair of headphones that don’t bounce while running, aren’t too bulky, etc. is just not something I have any interest in doing.
Challenge – I find that running without music is more challenging. Running with music provides a mental distraction. For me, forcing myself to be inside my head for 6, 8, 10 miles or more is sometimes as difficult as physically running the miles. It can be a good thing when I have the creative vibes flowing, or if I need to work through a problem in my head. Other times though it can be tedious when the head games begin and the mind wants to tell the body to stop. I find these times to be the best mental training for a race. If I were to block those thoughts by listening to music I’m not sure that I would come up with as many blog post ideas, sort through as many issues, or be able to challenge my body as much.
Do you run while listening to music? If yes, what type of equipment do you use?