"Don't be afraid to give up the good to go for the great." ~ Steve Prefontaine 
I've heard all of the reasons and excuses why people feel the need to run with music. The most common one, "Running is boring. If I don't have music to push me, I'll never get my run in." Um, pardon me. Did you call my beloved sport 'boring?' I'm sorry, but if you find running boring, it's probably just not for you. Listening to music isn't going to take away the 'boring' factor. What it is doing is distracting you from the task at hand. Running while listening to music is not only unnecessary, it's dangerous. Nothing that Lady Gaga has to sing about is important enough to make me replace the bull dog on top of a Mac truck, because I didn't hear it coming behind me. 

Here are some cases where I think running with music is NOT OK.

1) You're running on the road. I admit it, I used to run with my iPod blaring while I was out running in traffic. It doesn't matter if you're running head on into traffic; (which you always should be) accidents happen. You need to be aware of your surroundings. A car behind you could just as easily hit you from the other side of the road. If there is an accident at an intersection and you don't hear it, you could get hit with debris. These scenarios may seem unlikely, but why chance it? Be smart, look out for yourself. I can guarantee you that the cars on the road aren't paying as much attention to you as they should be.

2) You're running with a friend. I'm sorry, is Katy Perry's menage a trois last Friday night more important than what you're 'sole' sister has to say? Remove the ear buds and dish. Runs can be lonely, especially long runs. If you're fortunate to run with a friend, use that time to your advantage. Talk her ear off, brag about your kids, complain about things no one else wants to listen to (she doesn't have a choice but to listen). If I'm feeling low during a run and my running partner is jamming to her tunes, I have no one to push me when I want to quit. If you want to listen to music when you run, go alone. You pretty much are alone if you can't hear anything around you anyway.

3) You're in a race. Um, hello did you train so that you couldn't get the full experience of the race? I think not! Leave the music at home and soak in the atmosphere! There is nothing more inspiring than the race day environment. Get pumped and excited from the crowd, not your "friends" in the little music box. Those people aren't there running the race with you. You have actual human contact all around you, so enjoy it!

Now, I'm going to get off of my soapbox because I'm sure majority of you are huffing at your computers and calling me judgmental. I'm not! Honestly, I ran my 7 miler two weeks ago and brought my iPod with me. I mapped a course that had me running 3 miles (alone!) on the trail and I knew I would need something to occupy my time. Miles and miles of crushed stone is not very motivating and my brain tends to get exhausted from counting leaves. I'm not saying running with music is terrible, or makes you a bad person/runner. All I'm saying is, don't depend on music! If you enjoy running; try to enjoy it sans music once in awhile (and always while running the roads). I challenge you to leave your music at home for your next run. Don't worry, your "friends" will still be there when you get home.

Report back and let me know what you think if you accept my challenge!

Run Hard,
Run Strong,
Run for You,

Holly
Angie
9/7/2011

Challenge accepted, but to be honest, I'm not looking forward to it. I've only been running since May, and quite frankly, the heat and humidity make me wish I was back home almost as soon as I've started. (I know, I know, I'm a wimp, lol. But at least my wimpy butt is running and not on the couch, right?) Anyway, I find that the tempo of the music is what drives me to run a little faster, shave another 10 seconds off my time, and drown out the voice in my head that's telling me to walk the rest of the way home. The thought of running sans music in the fall when I can enjoy my environment is a lovely one. The thought of running in the blazing hot sun with nothing to distract me from how much I've grown to hate summer, not so much, but I'll give it a shot.

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Holly
9/7/2011

Angie, I'm so excited you've accepted! I can't wait to hear what you thought about it! Good luck :)

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Amy
9/7/2011

Angie - you might just surprise yourself. I dreaded the thought of running without music when I first started running, but now I find that when I ditch the tunes and listen to the rhythm of my own body (my feet hitting the ground, my breathing, etc), I actually tend to run faster than when I start moving along to whatever beat the music is pumping into my ears. I also find that ironically, it's easier to get lost in my own thoughts without music, making the time (and miles) go by more quickly. I still run with music once in a while, just to change things up, but it's rare these days. Hopefully those who accept the challenge will find it's actually kind of nice to hear the world around you when you're out there on a run. Good luck!

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Angie
9/8/2011

Mission complete, with mixed results. There were aspects of music-free running that I enjoyed, and others that I hated. First of all, I loved having my hands free instead of holding my mp3 player, and it was nice not having headphone cords bouning across my chest. I can definitely see how it could help one to get in touch with nature, but not so much in my running zone. If I were on a trail in a park somewhere, it would be great, but I normally run the street that loops around my neighborhood, so all I heard was cars going by and car doors shutting. (Yes, that means I'm usually the idiot running in traffic with music. However, it's a loop and by the time I'd hear a car coming and look, they'd already be on top of me. I'd rather just not know that it's coming.) In a different environment or at a different time of day, it probably would have been more enjoyable.

Also, I found that myself defeating the purpose, in several ways. It's easier for me to get lost in pleasant trains of thought with music. Today, I found myself concentrating more on how humid it was, how much I have to do at home tonight, how tired I was getting. It was harder to give myself the extra push I need to finish running instead of walking. Also, my mind decided to provide its own soundtrack to the run and unfortunately, I only know the chorus to the song that was stuck in my head. It was a much longer run when I was only "listening" to the same four lines of words, lol.

All in all, I see your point, but I'll be sticking with my headphones for now. When it cools off and I can get out early in the mornings for a run, I'll try it again.

I definitely agree with points 2 and 3, though. Those times definitely need to be music-free. As for point 1, I'll compromise and turn the volume down. :-)

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Holly
9/8/2011

Angie, thanks for giving it a try and giving an honest review! It sounds like the conditions weren't ideal today which would make any run difficult, especially one where you're experimenting. Let me know how you do on your next run when it cools down a bit!!! Great job!

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Stephanie
9/8/2011

Oh thank goodness we agree! I was afraid you would encourage folks to run with music (especially in races). I'm with you. Oh and I'm also a bit of a goodie goodie girl too and if they tell me not to wear an ipod in a race, why would I break that rule?!

Thanks!

(hope we meet one day!)

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Rich
9/9/2011

Granted, i'm not a regular runner by any stretch - and I can't manage the mileage most of you do - I agree with Amy's assesment. The last time I ran it was only 2 miles, but it seemed to go by fast even without music and it allowed me to concentrate on how I was actually running!

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