Take Notice

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When 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.

How could anyone ever run without music?

When I registered for my first ever half marathon, iPods/music were not allowed. If you were caught with it, automatic DQ. I panicked. How was I going to run 13.1 miles without music? I couldn’t stand the thought of hearing myself breathe heavily or my feet slapping the ground for 2 hours.

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.

Rebel, 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? Am I shuffling my feet?

I listened to my breathing. Was I taking shallow breaths? Was it even?

I 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. The ga-rump of frogs. 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 wrapped around me.

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.

It 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.

Do you run with music?

I will admit that I DO run with music on the treadmill. That is one place I could never go without unless I’m watching something on TV.

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49 comments on “Take Notice

  1. Like you I also had a strong need for music, but this winter I started running in mornings, when it was dark outside, so I was leaving my music devices at home for safety reasons. After some time I realise, that I like running without music much more.

    1. I think music becomes a habit, like wearing a GPS watch for every run. When you don’t listen to it, you find that you really didn’t need it after all.

  2. I have to say, I never run with music in a race. I feel like I need to focus on what’s going on and pay close attention to all the things you mentioned. However, I ALWAYS ran with music when training. But since about a year ago, I’ve slowly started to pull away from my little white umbilical cords. And I’m loving it!!!
    Allie recently posted..What Is Really In A Protein Bar?My Profile

  3. I am fine running shorter distances without music, but prefer it for longer runs. I find sometimes I am not really listening to the music and tune it out anyway πŸ™‚ If I were running on roads where I need to be more alert, I wouldn’t run with it at all. Overall, I find that some days I need it and other days, not so much.
    Christina recently posted..Mother’s Day, happy running, 10k prize, blackberry bushMy Profile

  4. You know, it’s funny… I had the opposite experience because I never run with music. But after doing some marathon training runs solo I realized how helpful it is to pass the time! But in general, I almost always run without. I agree, it’s so important to hear your feet, your breath, and be in touch with what’s going on around you.
    Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted..9 High Protein Breakfast FoodsMy Profile

  5. YES! Angela I LOVE this, and I love that you have found running can be (and is MORE) enjoyable without music! You are so right! I very rarely run with music….except yes, the treadmill is a must, but you notice so much more of the beauty if you do not have it. Not to mention you can process your thoughts and think about what you want out of your day/life.

    I often spend my time envisioning my future races, exactly how I want them to go, and they usually work out that way too πŸ™‚
    Tina Muir recently posted..Secrets to Success as a Runner; StridesMy Profile

    1. I always have my best thoughts while running. Ron gets pummeled with my ideas the minute I walk in the door from a long run. I’ve solved the worlds problems!

  6. I first started running without music–back in the day, the only way to listen was to carry a Sony Walkman! Once I got my first iPod, I found that I could further and faster. THe music motivated me and I didn’t have to listen to my breathing, which could get pretty ragged.

    Running is truly mental!
    Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted..A good alternative #bestfootMy Profile

  7. LOVE THIS! When I first started running I listened to music too, unless I was with Jason. But during my first half, I didn’t listen to it and started to realize I didn’t need it. In fact, it was a distraction and wasn’t helping me truly enjoy the runs. PLUS, It is such a huge safety issue. I hate hate hate to see people wearing earbuds out running up and down the streets.
    Heather (Where’s the Beach) recently posted..National Women’s Health Week – Caring for YourselfMy Profile

    1. I can’t believe how many people (especially women) that I see running with music in the early morning. I’ve been known to change my route just to follow them and make sure they were ok. C’mon girls!

  8. It’s as if you crawled into my mind and wrote was I was thinking– even down to the desperate mom of twins. I am all about mindful running, that’s why I take breaks from marathon training and just run. I need to quiet my mind to remain a sane person. Beautiful, beautiful post!
    Lisa @ RunWiki recently posted..The X-rated Gym and my Irrational BrainMy Profile

  9. I rarely run with music anymore.
    However, on the treadmill I always watch TV or have music!!
    I’m like you – I enjoy the peace and the sounds around me!!
    Kim recently posted..The Day I Gave UpMy Profile

  10. You know me. I like to do my running as naked as possible. Because I do a lot of my running by myself, it’s partially a safety issue. I want to be aware of my surroundings. As a former race director, it drives me nuts when people don’t adhere to the headphone rules. Many races don’t allow headphones as a safety precaution. If the course is not completely closed, it’s important for runners to be aware and able to hear volunteer instructions. Plus, it’s an insurance issue! But mostly I love to run without music so I can take notice. I do some of my best thinking on my runs. And sometimes, especially on the trails, I just want to soak up the quiet, peaceful sounds of nature.
    Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama recently posted..Perks of Business TravelMy Profile

    1. The mama in me comes out when I see people running with music on the trails. I want to follow them just to make sure they are ok!

  11. I only run without music if I am running with someone else;) It’s my time to tune out and not think about anything but the run. I do seem to not notice as much though when listening to music. Probably not the safest thing, which is why I don’t run on roads.
    Rachelle Q recently posted..Random Thoughts TuesdayMy Profile

  12. I don’t mind running trails without music but everywhere else I like to have music. I would like to think I still notice things but I can see how you would be more aware without music on. For me, running and music go hand in hand though.
    Betsy recently posted..Stony Creek Trail RunningMy Profile

  13. Love this! I don’t listen to music at the gym anymore. Stopping’s allowed me to really focus on my lifting technique and how hard I’m pushing. I know music pumps some people up, but I get a lot better workout in without it.

  14. No music. I honestly believe that people who regularly run with music are missing out. Like someone else commented, the music plays but they’re not really listening to it. I think for some people it just gives their brain something else to be distracted with other than the muscle/lung work. I also used to have to have music playing at home or the TV on when I was in college, but back then I didn’t want to be alone with my own thoughts. Now I do, and that’s one of the reasons I enjoy running. I agree with the TM, though…I always listen to music on a TM. Ha.
    Running Hutch recently posted..24 Hours with MoxieMy Profile

  15. No Music! When I was trying (an failed) to run in college I used my Zune (that’s right, I was cool) but it was big and I hated the cords. I also hated running. When I started running again after college (and enjoyed it) I never once tried listening to music. I like to be able to take in what’s around me or focus on the run. That and there is always something on my mind that needs hashing out.

    Big race pet peeve is people that listen to their music loud enough for me to hear and don’t pay attention to the others running!

    1. During my last half, there was a guy that had his music so loud that I could hear it word for word before I even got close to passing him. At first I thought he had it playing without headphones but than I saw the cord when I passed. Dude!

  16. I never run with music, though I will listen to a book on a long run. I love the opportunity to work things out and to notice the world around me. I have always thought it rude for someone to listen to music when they’re running with others and I think you miss out on a lot of communicating with other runners when you listen during a race. Except for maybe the last few miles πŸ™‚
    Debbie @ Live from La Quinta recently posted..Women’s Health Week: It’s Time to Take Care of YourselfMy Profile

    1. I kind of laugh when I see two people running together and they both have earbuds in. I guess they like the company but not the conversation?

  17. I felt the same way–I did Hood to Coast a few years ago and it was the first year they banned earphones (because a girl had been hit by a car the year before). I was in a panic! I thought “HOW WILL I MAKE IT?!?” But you are right, there’s something kind of nice about just listening to stuff around you, listening to your breathing, etc.

  18. This is always an interesting topic for both sides. I listen to music and prefer it particularly for long runs. But sometimes short runs around the neighborhood and definitely on trails I don’t. I’ve started listening to stand up comedy to!
    Mar on the Run! recently posted..Lessons in InjuryMy Profile

  19. Great post. I’ve never run with music in 35+ years of running, so I don’t really get the attraction, but I don’t (usually) judge…. πŸ˜‰ I went for an early morning run on a great trail last weekend, and loved hearing all of the birds chirping, rustling in the bushes (was that a squirrel? turkey? deer?), and lots of quiet. I couldn’t believe seeing how almost everyone had ear buds in (I counted two people out of about 30 who didn’t). Is music really that much more desirable than nature?

  20. I am pretty new to running and do listen to music. It tends to help me relax and not concentrate on the performance of other runners around me. Maybe I will give silence a shot and encourage myself to just focus on me.
    Lora recently posted..Family Day AdventuresMy Profile

  21. Running with out music is so liberating and meditative. True therapy. Focusing on breath and mantra really is where it is at. I run with music probably less than 20 percent of the time. It is usually on a long run. Sometimes I listen to podcasts but I don’t count that as music. It’s education πŸ™‚
    Tara Newman recently posted..Welcome to Family Sport LifeMy Profile

  22. I would say it varies. I have days where I just need the music to take me somewhere else but then there are others where all I can do to stay sane is just be present in my run and honor myself with that time. I completely understand your appreciation for “naked runs”
    Katie recently posted..St. Louis Rams Football – Lady RamsMy Profile

  23. i never run with music for this very reason. I love the sounds of quiet mornings, of my feet hitting the ground, of birds, and so much more. That to me is music!

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