Running Without Music

Running without music | Happyfitmama.comWhen I first started running in high school, I felt like I always needed music to get me going. I would carry my Walkman or later on Discman (stop laughing) in my hand as I slogged along for 3ish miles. Btw – the struggle with running with a Discman is real.  I think I spend most of my time trying to get it to play than running.

How could anyone ever run without music?

When I registered for my first ever half marathon, 12 years ago, iPods/music were not allowed. If you were caught with it, automatic DQ.

Running without music? For 13.1 miles.  Are you serious?

I panicked. I didn’t want to hear myself breathing heavily.  And if I was in a race, I definitely did not want to hear anyone else breathing. Breathing is bad enough, but what about the sound of my feet slapping the ground? What would I do for all that time to preoccupy my mind?  What would I do to motivate myself to keep going? And honestly, it sounded sooooo boring!

This was shaping up to be my worst nightmare rather than achieving a goal.

So what did I do? I wore an ear warmer headband (thankfully it was November and chilly) and tucked all the wires down my shirt so no one could see I had ear buds in.

Running without music | happyfitmama.comOpps…I spy an iPod shuffle and a wire!

Super sly, huh?

Fast forward a few years and something switched. As I was training for my first half after my kids were born, I found that I didn’t need music to keep my mind entertained.

I had a gazillion and one thoughts going through my head to ponder.

I enjoyed listening to my breath.

I enjoyed hearing my foot falls.

I enjoyed quiet.

Of course I was a new mama to twins who was in desperate need for quiet and alone time. But I realized I didn’t need music to distract me. In fact, I didn’t need a distraction at all. What I needed to do was tune in to ME and to my surroundings.

I listened to my footfalls and made adjustments as needed. Was I heel striking? Were my feet slapping the ground? Am I shuffling my feet?

I listened to my breathing. Was I taking shallow breaths? Could I regain control of my breathing with slow controlled breaths?

Runnign without music | happyfitmama.comI began to notice nature more. The dew on the grass. A sunrise. A ray of sunshine through the trees. The smell of a hot, humid summer day (even the not so good smell on garbage days!). The crunch of leaves with every step in the fall. The sound of birds chattering on a spring morning. The rhythmic lull of the waves at the beach.

Sure I may have noticed these things before. But I was more wrapped up in the music streaming through my ear buds rather than the sounds and sights that were surrounding me.

I paid attention to the thoughts going through my head. If there was a problem, yo, I’ll solve it…on a run. I confronted the thoughts – good or bad – and came up with solutions. Some of my best ideas are on a run. I’m quite sure I’ve solved ALL of the worlds problems on a long run. Now if I can just remember all of those ideas once I get home.

Once I left the music at home, I noticed a shift in my running. It no longer was something I had to do for weight management, vanity or because I needed to get in my exercise for the day.

Running without music | happyfitmama.comIt was the time and space where I could think uninterrupted. Where I could appreciate where I was and where I was going. I could lose myself and find myself all in the same run.

It was something I wanted to do just because it awakened my mind, body and spirit.

It made me take notice of me.

You can argue that maybe I just fell in love with running and all of that could have happened if I was listening to music too. That could very well be true. I’m sure it’s true for others. But not for me.

Now that I’ve been running music free for years, I can’t imagine going back. I’ve become such a minimalist runner that the thought of having to make sure I have my music charged or a podcast ready to go before a run sounds like too much of a hassle.

I want to rise and run!

Over the past 9 years, I’ve only tried to run with music once.  I brought my iPod for a half marathon where I had no goals other than to have fun.  I thought maybe running with music would make me tune into that rather than getting too competitive with the other runners. I had my ear buds in at the start, my playlist ready to go.  I pressed play and promptly shut it off after 1 mile.  It annoyed me to have the ear buds in. I hated not hearing what was going on around me.  I felt so isolated.  I haven’t tried to run outside with music/podcast again.

There’s also the safety issue.  I hyper vigilant about my surroundings while running no matter if it’s early morning or the middle of the day. I don’t like the distraction of noise in my ears on the roads or trails. After my creeper incident years ago, I don’t mess around. It makes me cringe when I see other runners out with music so loud that I can hear it when I come up behind them.  They jump a mile high when I pass because they had no idea I was behind them.

I do have two exceptions that I’ll make to running with music. The treadmill and indoor track. I NEED music for those two beasts.  That is definitely a necessity!

Running without music |

99 laps around this tiny track when I was in the midst of Boston training 4 years ago. Music was most definitely necessary! I still have nightmares about that run.

I love music and podcasts but I find other times to listen in like at the gym, making dinner, or relaxing.  I’m just fine running without music these days and don’t plan on going back anytime soon.  Unless I need to do 99 laps on an indoor track again.  Hopefully, that will never happen.

Do you run with music?

Linking up with Coaches Corner.

14 comments on “Running Without Music

  1. I think I would need Jay Z running next to me singing to complete 99 laps on a tiny track!! Holy hell woman!! But yes, I hear with running without music. I can definitely do it and I do it often. I have actually NEVER raced with music because I want to focus on what is going on around me and take in the crowds, etc. I definitely listen to podcasts on long runs (10 miles or more) and music for speed sessions but I can always go without. It’s good to have options, right?
    Allie recently posted..The Rundown – Getting SchooledMy Profile

    1. Ummmm…how amazing would that be to have Jay Z running next to you and singing? I’ve got 99 problems and laps ain’t one of them! Lol!

  2. Like you, I stopped running with music several years ago and never looked back! I love hearing the sounds of nature and being able to tune into my thoughts on a run, or being able to focus on racing and hear the spectators. It is a safety issue as well, especially with more distracted drivers on the road. I have tried to listen to audiobooks some on long runs, but half the time I would stop them after a few minutes to enjoy my silence. The except is the treadmill or the indoor track!

  3. I am running with friends for all of my runs so I don’t use music for those. I tend to like to hear what is going on in races and also take in the atmosphere so I normally don’t run with music for those either. Gym workouts however, always require music
    Deborah Brooks recently posted..Ragnar Niagara Falls Recap part 1My Profile

  4. I can run without music but I don’t like to. I don’t play it very loud though. It’s like background music and I wear Aftershokz headphones so I can still hear everything around me. That’s my compromise. lol

  5. I can’t even imagine 99 laps on an indoor track! More power to you, with or without music.

    I usually listen to a book while I’m running. Music was never my thing. If I find my mind wandering (as I solve my problems) I’ll turn it off. I rarely listen while racing because I like to communicate with the other runners around me. It makes me sad that so many are lost in their own music world.
    Debbie recently posted..Happy Global Running Day! How Running Can Change Your LifeMy Profile

  6. When I run with friends, I don’t listen to music. When I’m running by myself, I listen to music but it’s super low that I can still hear the stirring of squirrels in the woods, bicyclists coming up behind me and such. Being a music teacher for years, I’ve learned how to focus on different sounds than what is directly in my ears or in front of me. I like having that steady beat in the background of my mind while I’m out having discussions with myself. 🙂

  7. I go back and forth. I started running without, but then got a TomTom with music and got used to it. When I wanted to upgrade to a Garmin I couldn’t afford the one with music so tried to run without. I can mostly do it outside but when I ran the NYC Half I realized when the music hit in Times Square how much I missed it. So I bought an iPod and am now back to running with music. I tried podcasts but they don’t distract me as much as a good playlist can.

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