Why I Don’t Listen to Music When I Run
Whenever a new friend or co-worker learns I’m a runner, there are a few questions they inevitably ask. People often inquire about whether I run marathons or what race is next on my schedule. These are pretty safe questions with pretty safe answers. There’s another one that comes up, though: “What music do you listen to when you run?” My response to this one almost always elicits strong reactions. It’s because I don’t listen to music when I hit the pavement. As in, I don’t ever don headphones during a run.
I get why people think it’s strange. A lot of people swear by listening to some tunes to get motivated or to distract them from any discomfort. I have my reasons as well. Some of them are based on personal preference, but there’s also safety to consider. Here’s a breakdown of the reasons I forgo music while running.
1. I can pay better attention to how I feel
While some folks like music to distract them from feeling lousy on a run, I don’t think this is a great strategy. I want to know how my body is feeling. If I’m unusually tired, I can adjust my run to be a little easier. And if I feel great? I might add another one or two intervals to my workout.
Noticing if my body is feeling lousy on a regular basis is even more important because it could indicate I’m pushing it too much. Overtraining syndrome gets worse the longer you go without giving yourself a break. I’d rather recognize the problem sooner rather than later.
2. Earbuds, headphones, and cords all drive me crazy
There are newer, lighter, sleeker options for headphones and earbuds all the time. Despite how far technology has come, I’ve yet to encounter anything that doesn’t drive me crazy while running. I’m a pretty heavy sweater, which isn’t great for anything I have to wear in or on my ears. Fiddling with extra equipment also means it takes me that much longer to get out the door in the morning.
3. I have a much better sense of pace
Music practically begs you to align your pace with the tempo. While doing so might work out some of the time, there are going to be plenty of instances where a song might cause to you speed up or slow down way too much. I like that I’ve developed a good internal sense of pace over the years.
I’ll admit it’s possible the right music can help people score a speedier time. Some research has even demonstrated this. Still, consider that it’s possible to become too reliant on music when pacing yourself. You could be in trouble for certain races. Some competitions heavily discourage headphone use, and some even ban it.
4. Constantly updating playlists can eat up a lot of time
I used to regularly craft playlists to listen to while cleaning the house and doing other chores, but I eventually stopped. Why? It was a huge timesuck. I realized I was devoting a lot of hours to putting together the right mix of songs, but I was really just as happy listening to one someone else made or turning on the radio. I’d rather devote that time to running (or sleeping or cooking).
5. Skipping music makes everyone more aware of their surroundings
This reason is universal. A lot of people don’t think twice about cranking the volume on their music when out for a run. The problem with this is it makes it really hard to hear what’s going on around you, whether it’s someone warning you that there’s a rough patch ahead or a driver who’s not paying enough attention. Nearly 6,000 pedestrians were killed in vehicle crashes during 2017. Ditching the tunes could help you pay more attention and keep an eye out for distracted drivers.
It’s also hard to hear if there’s someone approaching from behind if you’re listening to music. You could easily find yourself tangled up with another runner or even a biker if you aren’t careful. It’s always in your best interest to be fully aware of your surroundings.
Even if I haven’t convinced you to ditch the headphones for good, you could always try going music-free every once in a while. You may enjoy it more than you think.