To run with music, or not to run with music? That is the question. There has been quite the controversy among runners//and music. Is it better? Will it make me faster? Does it make running easier? Is it dangerous? I am not here to say which is better, that is up to each individual and what works for them. I am simply curious as to what you all think, and to state my personal experiences with the matter.
Two years ago, I began my running “career” and swore I could not run without music. I needed it to keep me motivated. It made running feel easier. If i did not have headphones, I did not run. It got so bad, that I would keep headphones everywhere, just in case I forgot to pack them one day. I also got earmuffs with built in headphones for the winter months, just to have that beat in my head to keep me going.
When I joined my churches Run4God group last fall, I started noticing a terrible trend. We would all start together, and we would run together, but we weren’t really “running” together. We were separate entities traveling along the same path. We would have occasional conversation, but would let ourselves become distracted by the music, and sometimes, wouldn’t even notice if we began drifting off, getting ahead of the others, or nearly having our feet ripped out from beneath us by bikers. I was just as guilty as the next. I thought I needed the music more than I needed them. In hindsight, they were the real motivation; the inspiration to take one more step.
Flash forward to this past summer, when I took my first run without music. It was an abnormally hot day, with humidity beyond any comfort level. Was it brutal? YES! Did it feel awful? YES! Did I hate it? YES! Was it life changing? YES! I took it to my favorite trail, and set off. My pace started off real slow, which immediately led to the mind games we’ve all played with ourselves. I convinced myself I couldn’t do it. I had a war going on in my head, and thought if I just had music, this would all go away. Then I found myself becoming more aware of my negative thoughts, and wondered if I had them all the time, and they were just being masked by the music? I began to think back on my running career, and realized I let music control my runs. The music had the power to slow me down, speed me up, tell me I can’t do it, motivate me, keep me focused, and on the contrary, distract me from truly realizing my potential,both physically and mentally.
In that one “Aha” moment, I became a runner. A true, can’t stop-wont’ stop, this is all mental, “Girl, you got this. You are so much stronger than any music will ever make you”, runner. In just a little under a year, I have become aware of my body and how it reacts to running. I can focus on my cadence, which is damn near perfect every run. My breathing has become spot on. I understand my mental game, and when I need to get out of my own head. I bust out 20 miles like it was nothing. Running has become my sanity, my time to reflect on life && solve my struggles, or celebrate my strife’s. My overall performance has improved. I’ve become faster. My legs have become stronger. My heart has been filled with God’s beauty; his sights, sounds, and smells. The touch of the rain hitting my face as I run. The wild life I’ve barely moved out of the way for, as they scurry across the trails. I’ve made friends, from complete strangers, simply by giving a wave or a “good job!” But most importantly, I’ve connected to the world, to people, and to myself. I’ve become an unplugged runner.
Now I ask you, music or no music when running?
Feel free to share you stories, opinions, and experiences. No answer is right or wrong. Positive vibes only, please!