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Get off The Technology for A Better Training Run or Race

The Running Man

Image by ralph and jenny via Flickr

By Alix J. Shutello

Ok, I’ll admit it – I enjoy running with my Iphone. The music motivates me to run faster. I run in races with it too, but I’ve realized that music or not, I run about the same time with or without it.

The issue is not the fact that the music makes you run faster per se, the issue is that the music prevents you from those negative thoughts that make you want to stop. I know this all too well. I did an 8K last summer and was just completely out of my mind without my music. I could not believe what I was saying to myself.  I was telling myself I sucked, that I couldn’t do this without my music and then went to war with myself.

Really? You really suck? I said to myself

REALLY! was the reply.

What is up with that?

And so on and so forth until I just had to let whomever was really offending me go at it with whomever in the back of my mind and I started to focus on the running. I even tried to eaves drop on a few conversations. Two people were discussing what they ate for dinner (this was a night race). Others were just chattering and in my mind I went from telling myself that I sucked to complaining about all the hills. At least that was better than the constant stream of offensive lines coming from…well, ME!

Ok I am not crazy but running with music IS motivating and I must admit, more fun. Who wants to concentrate on how much pain you are in when you can jam to your favorite song?

On the other hand, I believe you need to run without music as part of your training. Why? Because in some races the tunes are indeed verboten and so you have to learn to race without them (or just never do those races or risk disqualification).  I remember in the Sarasota Marathon a few years ago, the photographer would not even look at you if he saw that you had your ear phones in (especially since the rules said NO earphones). So despite the fact that half the field was wearing them, I guess this photographer had his feelings about the issue.

On Linked In, some in the running communities I belong to have asked about running without music and how to leave the tunes at home. One good way to do this is to just leave the house without hooking up and merely tell yourself you are going for a walk. Then, after you feel you’ve warmed up, just start your run. If you are going through a hard time, like a break up or there is a work issue that’s in your craw you may want to leave the tunes at home another time and get your work out in. But running without your earphones is good for a few reasons:

1. Less tendency to damage your ears. Admit it, we all listen to music too loudly.

2. Increased tendency to clear your head. When listening to music our minds focus on the music, not on clearing out the cobwebs.

3. Enjoying the run holistically. If you have the pleasure of being able to run on a mountain path or on a bike trail, realize what you’ve got! The scenery, fresh air, and/or lack of stimulation like cars or buses should allow you to clear your mind.

4. Safety. Especially at night, when you need to have all your senses in tune; listening to music is not recommended. You need to keep an eye out for everything from cracks in the road you may not be able to see all the way to people you may need to steer clear of. This goes for everyone – think of Central Park, in NYC.  Keep SAFE.

The New York Times has a nice piece that inspired this blog post.



One thought on “Get off The Technology for A Better Training Run or Race

  1. I couldn’t agree more on the topic, run pure!

    What I would add is on the safety point. Even in daylight when I run pass a runner with their earphones in, I usually end up causing a massive shock resulting in a stumble, a fall, or at very least a sudden increase in Heart rate from the fight or flight hormone response in the runner. They just don’t hear you coming.

    No only that, but I have found that people listening to music while they run, or walk, are unable to travel in a straight line! I think it is to do with disruption of your balance organs in your inner ear. This is very frustrating for everyone else running nearby.

    Posted by Andy | August 26, 2010, 3:45 am

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