To run with or without music? That is the question runners have been debating since the dawn of the walkman. You probably won’t be surprised to know that I am firmly in the anti-music camp for the most part. But this post isn’t about trying to convince you why I’m right because let’s face it, of course I am!
I’m kidding! No, this post is about sharing my observations about why if you run with music, you might be missing out on something great, underperforming or putting yourself in harm’s way.
Before I get into that, I do have an exception to my no music rule. I do run with my iPod on the treadmill, but not all the time. My latest music obsession is DJ Scene podcasts–they are INCREDIBLE for those treadmill runs when the internal motivation is lacking for the day! About half the time I don’t listen to anything on the treadmill, preferring to listen to the gym sounds or zone out deep in thought instead. (See, I am so hardcore that I can run on a treadmill at the YMCA with no entertainment other than the old guy walking 2 miles per hour on the treadmill in front of me!) But I never ever run outside with music.
My no-music tribe must be a small minority because every time I run at the park or go to a race I am surrounded by a sea of people tuning out the world. As I listen to birds tweet (my kids whining) or the rhythm of my stride most others are listening to their latest iTunes download. There’s nothing wrong with that, but perhaps you music-lovers might consider these 5 reasons to go music-less on your outside runs.
1. You’ll Miss the Owl Hoots or the Stream Trickle: So many times on my runs I’ve heard something amazing. When I run up the gigantic hill from my house to the park I love to hear the trickling stream that runs right along the road. I love music, but the sounds of nature are so much more delightful. This is especially true when they’re a little unexpected, like the turkey I heard gobbling before I saw it dart across the road one morning. I never would have had that experience if I was jamming to DJ Scene.
2. You Won’t Be Able to Hear Me Cheer for You: One thing I love to do is to go back out after I finish a race and cool down back along the course. Sometimes I will see someone trying to finish strong and will run with them the last half mile and try to help them reach their goal. So often I am about to cheer for someone and then notice the headphones and don’t bother. Sure, maybe you don’t care if I cheer for you. That’s ok. I’m not sure I’d like me cheering for me at the end of some races either! But if you might like to hear cheers from me, the spectators or your fellow competitors, ditch the music at the next race.
3. You Won’t Be Able to Hear Me if I’m Announcing I’m Passing You with My Gigantic Stroller: One time I was running at my local park. I was pushing my stroller and I announced I was passing a lady. I didn’t see the tiny earbuds in her ears. As I was passing she turned and looked at me shocked and yelled at me for not announcing I was passing. I totally scared her because she did not hear me coming up behind her or announcing I was passing. She’s lucky she stayed on one side of the path or she would have collided with my gigantic stroller and three people!
4. The Music Will Drown out Your Mantra: If you’ve been following this blog for a while you know how important I think mental training is. I don’t think you can run your best if you’re distracted. Sure, sometimes I have a killer tempo on the treadmill because I get so into my podcast, but other times I have to turn it off because I can’t focus and get the job done. It depends on the day. More often than not I have a hard time running the paces I’m supposed to be running while listening to music and I can’t practice my mental training exercises. I can’t do my counting or dig out my mantras that are buried under all the sensory overload.
5. You Could Die: DIE! I tell you! Ok. Maybe that’s a little extreme, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people running on major roads in dark clothes going with the flow of traffic at dusk with headphones on. HELLO! Or I’ve seen people running alone on isolated park trails while listening to music. Sure, the likelihood of something happening is slim, but why take that chance? Music while running on busy city streets or country roads or in isolated areas is just dangerous. When I run on the roads near my house there are lots of twists and turns and rolling hills and the only way I know a car is coming is if I hear it. It scares me just thinking about taking away that sense.
Yeah, I know I’m a fuddy-duddy. I guess it’s the mom in me talking.
Are you a run-with-music person or a run-without-music person?