Up until the Cascade Lakes Relay this year, I ran with headphones nearly 100% of the time. Since the relay, I have ran with headphones once. The 50k, Portland Marathon and all the training for those were ran without music.
I always viewed music as a safety blanket, something that could help me get past the hard parts of a run or to zone out so I didn’t have to focus on the pain. It was definitely a struggle the first few times to leave the phone and headphones at home or in the car before taking off for the run. I think most runners are creatures of habit and become very uncomfortable when things change about our routine.
What I have found is that I love running without music. Here are a few of the benefits I’ve noticed since running without headphones.
1. Becoming Disconnected – I have my phone, iPad or computer with me almost all the time. I’m connected all the time, checking email, facebook, text messages, twitter, news etc etc. Leaving my phone in the car or at home and going out for a 60-120 minute run has made me realize that I’m way to focused on all these devices. That email I just got? It will still be there in a couple hours. I don’t have to respond to every message inside of 15 minutes. Things will still go on if I check out for a couple hours.
2. Running Awareness – Without the distractions of music I am finding myself to be more aware of my body when running. I can easily tell when my breathing has become more jagged on a long run and know I need to slow down. It gives me an opportunity to always be checking-in on my form and how I’m currently feeling. This allows me to get the most benefit from whatever kind of run i’m currently doing. I’m not checked out in lala land.
3. Social Benefits – I’ve been running with a group of people that do not run with headphones and we have some great conversations while running. Once you drop the headphones, a group run becomes an opportunity to connect with someone else and find out a little about them. I have also noticed that other runners on a path are much friendlier and willing to say hi when you don’t have headphones in.
4. Environmental Awareness – It’s obviously important to be aware of cars that are around you or other runners that want to pass you. If you are on trials, you need to be able to hear wildlife that you may come across. I’ve also found it’s nice to hear that beautiful river that you are running alongside.
Will I ever run with music again? Probably. It is however been a nice change of pace to leave it all behind and just enjoy the run and the environment that I’m running in.
If you were like me, I urge you to give a few runs without music a try, you won’t die..I promise.