Headphones or No? Unplug! – 10 Reasons to Run without Music
Let’s face it. Training for a race isn’t always that much fun. This is especially true when you are running long and slow. So many of us throw on the headphones and turn the volume dial up to help make the time go by. But have you ever wondered if there are benefits to running without the tunes?
I recently started doing this myself. I’ll be honest. It wasn’t the easiest thing to start doing. But after a few runs/rides, I have found many reasons why this is a good idea.
Top 10 reasons to run withOUT Music:
1. Run like you will in the race – many if not most races don’t allow the use of headphones. When you train with music then run without during a race, you put yourself at a disadvantage. Have you ever heard of chewing mint gum while studying for a test, then chewing mint gum during a test? The same concept works here. If you train with music, and run a race without music, you are running in new territory at the wrong time. Don’t sabotage your race.
2. Safety – It’s a fact that running with headphones on increases your risk of injury (or even death) significantly. With headphones on, you can’t hear traffic, dogs, or other runners coming up to pass. I don’t know about you, but considering how many drivers I ran past last week alone that were staring at their phone as they drove past, I’d like to put some of the odds in my favor. Remove the headphones, remove some risk.
3. Pay attention to your body – When there is music blaring in your ears, how much are you actually listening to your body? Probably not that much. When you’re running, you should pay attention to running, and how your body feels. How your shoes sound hitting the payment. Are you running with a quick enough cadence? Pay attention to your body to run at your best.
4. Stick within the zone – Music, especially fast inspiring music, makes us want to go fast. That may be helpful for faster paced workouts. It is the death roll for slower runs, as it makes you go faster than what you’re supposed to go for that training session. Same thing goes for using slower songs for faster runs. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve not heard my heart rate monitor telling me my heart rate is too high, or that it’s the time in my workout to slow down. Without the music, you let your body lead the way (or heart rate monitor, which is ok, too).
5. Breathe! – There have been articles published that talk about the benefit of breathing rhythmically with your footsteps. This can be a very effective way to breath, making you more efficient passing oxygen to your body. When you are listening to music, it is very difficult to sync your footsteps with your breathing. In fact, you are more likely to breathe with the beat of the music, which changes song to song. When race day comes and you don’t have your music, you may find yourself having difficulty syncing your breaths. Train the way you’ll run the race.
6. Protect your ears – Here I am sounding like your mother – “turn those things down!” Although this isn’t exactly something that will help your training, it could help you in future years. After all, wouldn’t it be nice to hear your significant other more often (aside from selective hearing)?
7. Run whenever you want – How many times do you have your workout gear with you just in case, but didn’t include your headphones. On travel, at work, at your in-laws during a holiday. Your first thoughts are “Dang it, now I can’t run!” I actually have skipped runs before because I didn’t have the music. Those days are over when you stop depending on music. No more excuses!
8. Carry less – This may be a small thing, but you have one less thing to pack. You don’t have to remember it when you’re going to the gym, on travel, to work, etc. Don’t have to pass it through security at the airport, and don’t have to carry it during a run. Just one less thing to worry about.
9. Run with a partner – Running with someone else can be a great thing, either keeping a run truly “conversational” or pushing you past your limits. Like running in a race after always training with music, you could be thrown off your game if you are music-dependent and go out for a run with someone else. Convinced yet?
10. Enjoy the world around you! – I know this sounds a little corny, but when you run without music, you actually get to interact with the world. Hear nature, hear a storm coming, say “Hi” to a neighbor. I actually wouldn’t have bought in to this if you would have told me, but after a few weeks of running without music, I actually enjoy training, no matter what speed, more. Give it a try – you never know until you try!
Running without music may not be for everybody. Chances are you can find at least one thing in the list above that you would benefit from. However, there are many people who will continue to run with headphones on. One thing you might consider if you are going to continue using headphones is to choose music with a beat at about 90 beats per minute or slightly faster. This way, at least you have something to help you keep a good cadence during a run. Other than that and motivation, there are too many reasons to take off the headphones and get back to just running.
Level 1 USAT Coach