If you run, you probably fall into one of two categories. Either you run with in ear entertainment, or you prefer to run with your ears bare.
Some can’t dream of having no music to accompany their stride, whereas some relish the sounds of the environment. Even if you mix things up, you will prefer one or the other.
Does it really matter if I listen to music or not?
Of course, it matters! If you’re a regular runner, you spend a good portion of your weekly getting in some mileage.
Say, on average, you run 4 times a week with each run lasting 30 minutes. That’s 2 hours a week. 2 Hours of your life you’ll never get back.
‘Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time’
Optimise your running time with what works for YOU
Your time is precious. By running, you’re already spending your time productively. Running is one of the best investments you can make in yourself, after all. You can optimise your running by listening to, or not listening to, music. Do whatever works for you, so you make the best use of your time
Wait a second… you can’t listen to music during races, can you?
Under UK Athletics rules, listening to music through in ear phones is strictly prohibited as of 2016.
BUT in most races, you are more than welcome to use bone conducting earphones. These earphones sit over your ears and conduct soundwaves across your cheek bones, so you can listen to music and hear the world around you.
And of course, during training you can do what you want! Listen to music to your hearts content.
How do I decide whether to run with music or not?
Having a few ideas of why people decide to listen to music or not when running can be helpful. Here’s a few reasons people opt in or out of music on their runs…
Why do people like running with music?
Time to listen to music- Life is busy and for many people, there isn’t time for music. Running provides an ideal time window to listen to some favourite artists. Uninterrupted time which isn’t usually available.
Have you ever been really into a banging tune, then have someone grab your attention by waving in front of your face or tapping your shoulder? It’s annoying. People want our attention all the time.
Running gives, you a supply of time which is not easily interrupted, which runners enjoy listening to their favourite tracks.
Match the beat for consistency- Some runners struggle with consistency. They check their Strava times and find 7:05 minutes for mile 1, 9:10 minutes for mile 2 and 8:32 minutes for mile 3.
Imagine a band trying to play a song with an out of time drummer? The tune would be all over the place, and difficult for anyone to tap their foot along to or dance to.
For a stable and consistent run, music with a steady beat can set your tempo. Your Strava score after running with music will be a little more consistent. Of course your music needs to all be of similar tempo, which is easily achievable.
Focus on something else– Music can provide an ample distraction for runners who might be struggling or in discomfort during training. If training for a long race on the horizon, or just getting started with a running regime, it’s likely the “no pain no gain” phrase will be of use.
“The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus”, Bruce Lee
Directing your focus elsewhere when you are struggling can motivate you to carry on and not throw in the towel. Like Bruce said, have “laser-like focus” and be a “warrior” with your running.
Listening to Eye of the Tiger, Jumpin’ Jack Flash, Born to Run or the Rocky Theme, can really take the edge of. If you’re training regime is a bit gruelling, try adding some sounds to the mix and focusing on that.
Why do people like running without music?
Peace and quiet for thinking- Some take great pleasure in the peace and quiet for thinking time. Solo training runs without music provide space for the mind to wander.
Runners use the time to think about their life: ideas, thoughts, relationships, work, health, wealth and so on.
Non-music runners like the mental space to think through all these things, which can be difficult when you have music blaring in your ears. Running without music allows peace and quiet to think.
Safety- Some are concerned about their safety and choose not to wear earphones. Crossing a road or running through a busy urban area can be hazardous.
Imagine crossing a busy road on a run. You’ve done your checks, you’ve looked both ways, and start to cross. However, your earphones stopped you from hearing the roar of a sports car coming around the bend. Sadly, this kind of thing happens around the world.
Wearing earphones removes one of your 5 senses temporarily and you won’t be able to respond to danger as effectively.
If you DO wear earphones, try lowering the volume so you can still make out loud noises in the environment. It can be the difference between your life! It sounds dramatic, but it’s important you remember.
Being sociable in a group- One of the great delights of running is its sociable side! Runners choose not to listen to music, so they can speak to fellow runners.
Being part of a club, participating in parkrun and going for a family jog, are all examples of how running can be highly sociable.
Unless you’re incredibly anti-social, your group runs will be full of chit chat and discussion. Music won’t be an option in these scenarios.
To run with music, or not. That is the question…
Ultimately, it’s your decision what you decide to do! There are benefits of running with or without music. Make sure you know what they are and do what works for you.
You might mix it up from time to time and get the best of both worlds, which is absolutely fine!