Do you listen to music when you run? I used to always plug in my headphones for my runs, especially for long runs. But a few years ago I stopped and now I always run in total silence.
There were several reasons why I stopped listening to music. One was safety. I found that I felt more vulnerable when I couldn’t hear what was going on around me, especially on early morning runs when there was almost no one else around. I also found that when I had my headphones in it was harder to hear traffic and made crossing roads more dangerous.
Another reason why I gave up listening to music was that I found it too distracting and it took my focus away from the run. I would spend ages creating great running playlists, but after a few times I’d get bored of the songs and be constantly skipping tracks searching for ones I wanted to listen to. This, coupled with the fact that many races no longer allow runners to wear headphones, resulted in me running in silence.
I’ll admit that sometimes, usually on a very long run, I will start to get bored without music, but I normally prefer the silence.
Running without music helps me to focus on my running. I think about my gait more and make a conscious effort to stay strong when running. I’m no longer having to worry about headphones slipping, skipping tracks, tangled wires or worrying about wireless headphones running out of batteries. Instead, I can just fully focus on my run.
It also lets my mind drift and long runs, especially when I’m in a comfortable running rhythm, can feel like active meditation. These are my favourite runs and the ones I usually end up running more miles than I should because I don’t want them to end.
Another reason why I run without music is because I enjoy hearing the natural world around me. Nature has been proven to have a positive impact on our mental health and I try to go running into the countryside whenever I can. In spring and summer hearing the birds chirping, or on early morning runs, the rustle of leaves as an animal scurries away, is the perfect soundtrack for these runs.
As I said, there are times on long runs when I start to get bored and wish I had music or a podcast to help distract from the run. But I also like the mental challenge of staying focused when I do get bored and getting the run done no matter what. I think that a little bit of boredom is actually good for us and knowing that I can mentally keep going when I’m bored and want to quit helps me to become a better runner both mentally and physically.
If you’re a runner who always listens to music when running, why not try leaving your headphones at home next time and seeing if a silent run changes how you feel about running?