I realize this idea of running without earbuds and music is close to endurance blasphemy as far as many of you are concerned, but hear me out. I’m not saying you should never run without music, but you may want to think about unplugging from time to time for a couple of reasons.
If you are running in a place you’re unfamiliar with or in a pretty isolated area, I would highly recommend unplugging or at the very least turning down the volume, so you can hear the outside world. Even in a busy city it’s not a bad idea to turn down the volume every now and then so you can hear for sirens, horns or other vehicles needing to make quick stops or turns at intersections.

Listening to Your Own Beat

If you are focusing on a specific goal race then it’s crucial that you don’t over or under train, and with that comes running the correct paces for various workouts. Instead of cranking up the music, which may lead you to run at a faster or slower pace than you want to based on the rhythm of the song that is on, you may want to keep the tunes at home and listen to how your own internal drum is beating during your training run to make sure you can get through the workout as efficiently and effectively as possible.

It’s So Boring Without Music

People have wondered how is it I can go for one to two hour runs without earbuds and music blasting through my skull. They would be so bored, they tell me. I would argue that “plugging in” to the world around you is never boring but fascinating – running in the woods, trails, desert or mountains can almost be a spiritual experience at times. Babbling brooks, winds rustling the leaves, birds gliding overhead like kites, insects with their clicking-humming-alien-like sounds, and even the utter silence that allows you to hear every crunchy step and deep breath you make as you traverse through the wilderness is, I believe, allowing you to connect more with yourself. Even running through suburban or city streets without any music allows you to connect to what’s going on and observe things that you may have missed by being tuned out.I get it. You need your space, your alone time and you want to disconnect from the rest of the world (even your own thoughts for a while) and listen to some of your music as you do the 5-mile lake loop in your neighborhood or churn up that nasty steep 1-mile hill near your kids’ school – and music makes this experience…well, just better.

All I’m getting at is that there are times we need to as runners not disassociate from what we are doing but associate the entire running experience that is going on with our bodies and the world around us.

For those of you who are especially trying to make some breakthroughs with your running times then you need to be plugged into your body on harder days, at least; but it’s also good to listen to your body on easy and recovery days, too. Music is a distraction – sometimes good and sometimes bad. There is nothing wrong with running with music. But for even those of us who are more recreational runners and have no aspirations of being atop a podium, the idea of running with only yourself, your thoughts and the road may seem unappetizing; but you may learn more about your own beat, your own tune and your own journey while listening to absolutely nothing at all.


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