In my early days of running it was rare for me to hit the pavement without my music. Running with music helped drown out the sound of my footsteps and heavy breathing, both of which made me utterly aware of the sufferfest I was enduring. Plus, nothing motivates me more during a workout than a good pump up jam, so I got a lot of mileage out of my hot pink iPod Nano while I was logging my own.
With the days of headphone jacks behind us, and since I’m too lazy to buy a pair of bluetooth headphones, I’ve become accustomed to going on long runs without my playlist at the ready. This used to be a dreaded task, but like most dreaded things, you end up learning something.
Here’s what I’ve learned from running without headphones and what I hope you’ll consider the next time you’re ready to lace up and head out the door.
You’ll get really good at self-coaching/pep talk/being your own cheerleader. Before I started running without headphones my workout playlist was my source of inspiration. But running without the help of my music forced me to spend time with my thoughts, think about my “why,” (i.e. “WHY the heck am I doing this?”) and helped with positive self-talk. When you don’t have Nelly aggressively rapping “Heart Of a Champion” in your ears to help you power up a hill, you learn to muster up motivation from within and become a little more mentally tough in the process.
You’ll be more aware of what’s going on around you. Know that when you’re running outside it’s OK to be hyperaware of what’s going on around you. It could even save your life. Sadly, many of us have probably heard stories of runners who’ve been attacked on green ways or hit by a distracted driver. It’s up to you to look around and listen to your surroundings. If you’re lost inside your own world with music turned up loud, you might not be aware of what — or who — is around you.
It’ll help you practice for race day. Many races don’t allow or “highly discourage” the use of headphones on the race course, especially if the course is open to traffic. If you train with headphones, you’re going to be thrown for a loop on race day if you’re told you can’t wear them. You may find it hard to get in your groove without your music pushing you forward, so try one or two runs per week without your headphones to ease into it. If you do end up racing with headphones and your phone dies in the middle of the run, it won’t feel like such a big deal since you’ve practiced this in training.
There are many benefits of running without headphones, and while it may take some getting used to, over time you may find yourself depending less and less on your workout jams to get you through your run.