Tuesday, February 18, 2014

TTT: Calming the Mind--Running without music (or headphones at all)

I used to be completely reliant on music for running.  Part of this may be b/c when I first started running back in 1998 it was 100% on the treadmill and who wouldn’t want headphones if they were running 100% of the time on a treadmill ?!  Fast forward to 2009 when I started triathlon.  I thought that first sprint tri was awesome but I did NOT like being without my headphones even for that short 5k.  Fast forward to last year, about midway through the year I stopped listening to music and was exclusively listening to podcasts while I was running, slowly transitioning to only one earbud and then about October, I stopped even doing that—no music, no podcasts, no earbuds, just silence (well, my breathing and foot falls).  How did I get there and why do I actually prefer it?

First, there is still totally a time and place for music and podcasts, I don’t do all my runs silent but I’d say the majority of them are silent these days.  I save music for my sweatfest trainer sessions and podcasts for driving around in the car.

As I mentioned, I slowly transitioned myself from music to podcasts from 2 headphones to 1 to none.  If you’re scared to go sans tunes/podcasts…take your tunes with you and do a half and half run—half with, half without—or try one earbud instead of 2.  I definitely made the slow transition and I typically still run with my phone but it’s now more for security than anything else. 

I have actually gotten to a place where I actually prefer the silence or occasional podcast to music.  I find that running without music allows me to more accurately tune into myself (pun intended).  I can more accurately gauge my perceived exertion and even have an easier time maintaining an even pace profile.  I used to think music (specific up tempo hiphop) was the only way I could run fast.  Turns out I can run plenty fast without any music at all and that the constant up tempo tunes may have detracted from my ability to focus on how I was feeling.

I urge you to try going “silent” on your next run.  Not ready for that big of a leap, try a podcast or try one earbud instead of two.  If you hate it, you only had to suffer through one run…make it a short one just in case.  Enjoy!