We agree: music is the best thing ever, and when combined with working out, it’s a perfect fit. Listening to songs that inspire you can be empowering and uplifting. And when you’re not in the mood, are not in great shape, or are nursing an injury, there’s nothing like a kickass playlist to motivate. However, something powerful is lost when your running shoes become more or less attached to your headphones. It’s worth ‘cutting the cord’ now and then, to more deeply experience the tremendous benefits of this simple and pure sport. Sometimes less is more.
5 Reasons to Turn the Music Down:
1/ Cadence. The sound of your feet hitting the ground puts you in immediate touch with your surroundings and your body. You’ll find your natural cadence more easily without the distraction of music and you’ll be less tempted to begin your run too quickly (and skip your warm-up). When you’re in tune with your leg stride and rhythm, you’ll also be more aware when your body is compensating due to tightness, weakness or injury. (The sound of uneven footsteps is a clear sign you need to address a physical issue.)
2/ Breath. Awareness of breath also ‘connects’ each of us at a core level. As we run, our breathing changes, depending on many factors – like pace, fitness level, terrain, weather, and how we feel on any given day. Being conscious of your heartbeat and breath allows you to know when you can push yourself more, and when you need to hold back. A key to longevity as a runner and athlete is listening to your body and responding appropriately.
3/ The Zone. When your mind, heart and body are in synch, it’s liberating. Simply putting one foot in front of the other (over and over) over time creates a sense of freedom and release. For more experienced runners, this feeling of being ‘in the zone’ is second nature. It’s more than the endorphins of the commonly referred to ‘runner’s high’; this is a state where the mind is truly free, where creative ideas and solutions to problems ‘just flow’. Listening to music generally inhibits your ability to reach or stay in this awesome heightened place.
4/ Safety. We always need to be aware of our environment while running outside, to avoid potential accidents (e.g. vehicles, pedestrians, uneven ground, etc.). Eliminating music as a distraction greatly increases your awareness of your surroundings and, by doing so, reduces your safety risk.
5/ Grab a Friend. When you’re in the mood for company, running with a friend provides a perfect moment to catch up. Keep in mind that you should be able to have a conversation during most of your runs, unless you’re doing a speed workout. If you find yourself out of breath or unable to speak, you’re probably running at a pace too fast for your fitness level. Tune in to your own natural rhythm, listen to your body’s cues and just let it flow.
* Song to get you in the mood:
“On Top of the World” by Imagine Dragons.
Take in the positive energy of this song before disconnecting — to let your mind, heart and soul run free.