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Listening to music while running seems like a c universal practice for a lot of runners. I even used to have 3 playlists for different modes of running which made me believe I could never run without it. As I was gearing up for a run, a friend encouraged me to run without music. I wasn’t sure if I can but I did it anyway.
Running without music poses a number of benefits. It keeps you aware of your surroundings and it’s a great way to train your mind. In addition, some organizations ban listening to music which makes it an advantage if you’re used to running without it.
Ahead, we will dive deeper into the benefits of running without music as well as take a look at why most elite runners don’t listen to music while they run.
10 Benefits of Running Without Music
#1 You’ll be more aware of your surroundings
Probably the most important factor in this list is the awareness of your surroundings. According to CDC, an estimated 400,000 injuries were caused by distracted driving in the US alone. Not to say all of them are runners, but running on the side of the road increases the risk of you getting hit by a distracted driver.
Ditching your headphones when you’re going for a run on a busy street allows you to hear incoming cars, especially the ones coming from behind.
Other than that, it keeps you aware of what’s happening around you so you can react accordingly. Accidents and crime can happen at any time.
#2 It’s a form of meditation
Running without music allows you to be present at the moment. It allows you to be alone with your thoughts and explore yourself and your limits. In fact, if you run at the right heart rate, it could even help you relax.
#3 You can control your own pace
I was once reliant on the beats of the music. It’s great when the beats match my cadence. The problem arises when they don’t.
I sometimes get influenced by the music so much that I rely my pace too much on it. That’s why I sometimes end up sprinting to a dark place of exhaustion that I can never go back from.
Eliminating music keeps you in control of your pace. You can pace yourself according to the data shown in your fitness tracker instead of the feel of the music.
#4 You’re callusing your mind
If you’ve read David Goggins’ book – Can’t Hurt Me, then you already know what callusing your mind means.
You can listen to it for free if you sign up for Audible’s free trial.
Basically, you’re training your mind to go through hardships and you harden it so it can take on whatever challenges you may face. Running with nothing but your own thoughts as your company is a form of callusing your mind.
If you run long enough, there will be many conversations that will happen inside your brain convincing you to give up. Callusing your mind is talking yourself out of giving up.
#5 It’s teaching you to focus
Distractions are everywhere. Even in our pockets, ears, and wrists. Wouldn’t it be nice to have at least 30 mins of every day where you teach yourself how to remain focused?
Running without being distracted teaches you how to focus. You focus on your breath (which is what you do in meditation), listen to your own heart rate, and feel every step which will improve your ability to focus over time.
#6 It teaches you conversational pace
Want to know what’s your conversational pace? Converse with people. Running without music allows you to talk with your friends or other runners whilst helping you maintain a conversational pace.
#7 You get to enjoy the sounds of nature
There’s no music better than the sound of winds swaying trees, birds chirping or waves crashing. Running is a fantastic outdoor sport not only because of its health benefits but also because it’s a way to experience nature.
You’ll appreciate this more if you’re running on parks, mountains, trails, and coastal roads.
#8 It may help you run longer
Because your pace won’t be influenced by the auditory stimuli you get from the beats of your music, you’ll be able to follow a game plan and keep your heart rate to a certain level that will allow you to run longer.
Plus, if you practice long enough, running without music will arm you with mental toughness.
#9 You’ll get to know your own performance better
Being alone with yourself without the distraction of music allows you to get to know yourself more as an athlete.
You’ll get a better grasp of your breathing and the overall feeling of your body at different distances and paces.
#10 It gives you an advantage in some races
You may not know this but the use of headphones, iPods or any form of distracting device is banned in many racing events including the IRONMAN. For some, it is simply discouraged.
That is why training without your headphones gives you an advantage over those who are so used to running with headphones.
Elite Runners Don’t Listen to Music: Here’s Why
The reason why most elite runners don’t run with music is that they want to train themselves without it for competitions.
Because some organizations ban listening to music while running, it only makes sense to train without it. Additionally, phones add unnecessary weight. Not to mention that keeps falling off during the run.
Elite runners also follow their pace strictly, which is why they don’t want to be influenced by music.
Is Running Without Music Better?
It depends on your situation. If you’re just running for personal goals like losing weight and want to find a distraction so you could keep going, then there’s no harm in listening to music when you run. Just make sure you’re not running on busy streets and intersections.
In contrast, if you’re looking to be an elite athlete or you’re signing up for races like IRONMAN, then you should start practicing without music. It will give you a slight edge in finishing the race.
What I like to do when I want to be distracted on my easy runs is listening to audiobooks instead of music. I love learning, and audiobooks are a great way to learn while I sweat.
If you want to try listening to audiobooks, Audible offers a 30-day FREE trial. You’ll gain access to thousands of books, podcasts, and originals in 30 days. You can cancel anytime before the trial ends.
Does Music Really Help Your Performance?
Although there are many benefits linked to running without music, we cannot discredit the advantages of listening to music while running which are backed by science. After all, most people hate being alone with their thoughts.
One research found that listening to music before, during, and after running helps athletes recover faster and improve their performance on 5k races.
In a research conducted by Plos One, researchers concluded that running to motivational music whose beats match the runner’s cadence elevates psychological effort and improved running efficiency, therefore, enhancing overall performance.
A boost of performance when listening to music can also be attributed to the fact that listening to your favorite music while running, regardless of the genre or beat, can actually help you get ‘in the zone.
To conclude, music does help your running performance. But relying too much on it can put you at a disadvantage in competitions where the use of music is banned. In addition, it’s unsafe to run on busy streets when you’re drowning in the sound of music.