Running With Music: What Do You Think?

For a while now, I have wanted to to a blog on how running without music is sooooo much better than running with music. I had my argument all ready to post, and was quite sure that I would be able to convince others to drop their ipods. But, being the (wannabe) journalist that I am, I thought that only a “real” journalist would test out both sides of an argument before coming to a complete conclusion as to which side was better.

So…yesterday, on my way out the door, I spotted my 7-year old daughter’s pink ipod shuffle on the counter, and grabbed it. Thankfully she was on the front porch, and I was able to ask her for instructions on how to clip it on. I new how to work it, but allowed her to give me a brief tutorial before I went out. (I’m really not that old, just old-fashioned 😉 )

Now, before I tell you exactly how it went, I want to give you a bit of a background as to why I have never before run with music:

First off, I love music! I am a sucker for that mid/late 90’s Grunge/Alternative music. I like bands like “Live,” “The Cranberries,” “No Doubt,” “Blues Traveler,” “Counting Crows,” and “Collective Soul” to name a few. Although I have found these music groups to be great company in the car or blasting throughout my house, I have never thought of them as good running company.

Running has always been my solace–my time to be at one with my own thoughts and with nature. I never wanted someone else’s thoughts and words to be in my mind when I was trying to think. I love hearing the sounds of birds singing and rustling in the trees, wind blowing, water running. I also like setting my own pace by timing my legs and arms with the rhythm of my breathing. The thought of closing off my ears to these things, just didn’t seem right.

Then there is the safety issue. As we all know, there are things and people out there who are not so kind. I have been chased by terrible dogs before, and had I had earphones on, I would have never heard the dog come up on me, and would not have turned around in time to defend myself. There was also a time when a friend and I were being stalked by a man, and again, if earphones were in our ears, things could have ended badly. I feel safer when all of my senses are aware and awake…this is also why I carry mace :/. Here is a link to a great handheld mace for running, by the way.

These are my reasons for not running with music….pretty good reasons, I think.

You can imagine, now, what an undertaking this was for me to put in those ear phones. I made sure to pick a run that I was very familiar with, and that I knew was really pretty safe.  At first it was a little weird, but I quickly got into a groove with Amberlin’s song A Whisper and a Clammor (one of my son, Anderson’s favorite songs). I was feeling pretty good.

Once I got on the dirt trail, there were a couple of songs in a row that I wasn’t all too familiar with, but that had a good beat. This is where I suggest that you are familiar with the songs on your playlist, because when a strange man’s voice starts talking in the background, and you hear sirens, loud helicopters, and even loud booms, you get a little jumpy.  There was also the fact that in between songs, the earphones being in my ears magnified the sound of my breathing, which was also kid on eery. :/

I lucked out, though when I got to the hill, The All American Rejects’, Move Along came on, and helped me right through it. As I was on the home stretch, U2’s”I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” came on, which was fitting, because I was really ready to get home and end the experiment…no joke!

All-in-all not a terrible experience, although I still prefer being able to think, breathe and be aware of the sounds around me. I may do it again. We’ll see.

I want to know what my readers think. Music? No music? Why?

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15 Responses to Running With Music: What Do You Think?

  1. wartica says:

    I agree; whether I’m training kung-fu at the school, or the backyard, skating, or hiking, I’ve got music bumping. The only time I’m not, is when I’m surfing in the water lol…

  2. Currently trying to wean myself off of running with music. It’s hard. 🙂

  3. Dominick S. says:

    I just realized that I do both but I am not sure of why? Short runs 4 miles or less, I don’t listen to music? Long runs 4 or more, I do. I would think that the short runs would welcome music because music definitely helps me subconsciously run faster. I know that with long runs I use music to help the time pass and also to pump me up in the latter stages when I am getting tired. To go against my own logic I typically listen to mellow music on the longer runs so that it kind of turns into a background noise and I am still able to think (think a soundtrack to my running life, not a music video), it helps me keep a nice rhythm. I like to hear things when I run so I keep the music lower to be safe. Overall I would say I am more a fan of running with music than without and I am always thinking when I run regardless of what I am hearing.

    • runariran says:

      That all makes sense. I think I am just such an audio person, and have a hard time focusing when too many sounds are going on at once.
      I guess we all just stick to what works for us. Whatever keeps us runnin’, right? 🙂

  4. unshoes says:

    I like to be fully aware of my surroundings and focused so no music for me. Personally, I feel that our bodies understand more about what is going on then we sometimes give them credit for. I find that when I’m more in tune with what I’m feeling (yes, even fatigue or pain) I run better because I can make small adjustments to my form. Also it just doesn’t feel right to me.

  5. JR says:

    I go long stretches of time (years, even) doing it one way or another. It’s been about a year since I’ve brought along an iPod, and I stopped listening for all of the reasons you said, but also because I just get bored of the stuff I listen to, even when I keep the playlist fresh. When music has gotten stale, I’ve listened to Jane Austen, scriptures, conference talks, Shakespeare, etc., and have enjoyed them all (and somehow the combination of listening and running makes me remember the material so much better). Sometimes, though, especially when I’m doing a recovery-type run, I get so so so bored that I wish I had anything to listen to other than my shoes on the trail/road.

  6. Rachel says:

    I started out always running with music, but some friends gave me crap for it over the summer, so I tried running without. I do most of my runs without music now and I think I’m starting to get used to it, but I still bring music on my long runs because if I think too much, it’s easier for me to convince myself to stop running. I need to get different headphones, though, because mine keep falling out of my ears when I run!

    Sometimes I like to listen to podcasts instead of music.

  7. brindyjean says:

    I’ve had a long debate in my head whether I liked running with or without music. One of the reasons I love running so much is because its so basic and minimalistic. It seems like running with a high tech device plugged in to your head is a bit contraditictive. However, I still run with music about half the time. But I rarely make it past mile 6 or 7 still listening to music.

    p.s. I read your blog 🙂

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