So one of the more interesting things(well interesting at least to me) that has happened with my running since Chicago is that I have not had a single run with my iPod in tow. The weird part is that it really wasn’t intentional. When I ran in Chicago I had my iPod loaded up and ready to go with a full playlist of songs to get me through however many hours it took me to plod along through it. It was just a given that I would run with my iPod.
To illustrate just how tied to my iPod my running was before, consider this; I went to a Cisco conference in Las Vegas in July of last year and on the flight back I inadvertently left my iPhone in the cab getting out at the airport at 5am that morning. Now up until this point, every run I made included my armband, my iPhone and MapMyRun. I did not own a Garmin at the time so I was sold on the iPhone and the related apps. After getting off the plane without my iPhone the biggest fear I had wasn’t what if someone calls me(even though email was really the biggest issue without it) – but what really worried me was – How am I going to run now without having my iPhone and the integrated iPod? In fact once I got home it only took about a month before I ended up replacing MapMyRun with a Garmin since I was relegated to using an older and much slower iPhone that kept crashing while trying to use MapMyRun. Eventually I replaced the armband and iPhone all together by using an iPod shuffle. All the way through the Chicago Marathon I kept my iPod on.
Then after getting back from Chicago I started reading ChiRunning. One of the things it really pushes is being in tune with your body and aware of every aspect of your form while running. Music tends to distract you from listening to your body by having you listen to well….music. So for the first few runs after Chicago since I was only going 3-5 miles I decided I would ditch the extra gadget and run without it. Then as I started back training for Little Rock and running with our running group I didn’t end up using an iPod either(because that would be rude to put on earbuds after meeting friends to run).
This past week I ended up running an 8 miler by myself because rain cancelled the group run(well not completely but I can’t stand the treadmill and opted out of the group treadmill run). About 4 miles in I found myself really engrossed in the hills and woods by the local route I run and was amazed at all of the sounds I was hearing. I kept telling myself, it has really been a long time since you have ran this route because I can’t remember hearing those things. Then I realized – it was because I was running without the distraction of music. I hadn’t really started out with the intention of ditching music, but the habit of running with the group left me running without it. What I realized was that where in the past I was totally numbed by the playlist, now I felt every movement and step as well as the environment around me. It finally made sense… without the distraction of the music I could focus on running and the feedback my body was giving me. I immediately tried to think of the last time I ran with music and it was in Chicago – which I consequently left with a good case of Plantar Fasciitis.
When I got back and analyzed my Garmin data(I love looking at the data!!), what I found was that I had ran my fastest pace ever on that 8 mile route. Now back when I was training for Chicago by myself I was running that route 5 days a week. So to have just ran it for the first time in months and for the first time without music and to have ran it faster than I ever had – was an eye opener.
Now I am not saying that running without music will prevent injuries or will make you faster. I am just noticing a correlation between focusing fully on the feedback from your body while running and the overall performance. And I am sure at some point or another I will probably end up with earbuds in again while running but I do think that there is some legitimacy to the notion that running with music causes you to block out what your body is telling you. The biggest benefit I saw was that I really enjoyed experiencing the run and the route. Sure there were the cars that passed by distracting me but it was an awesome run along the hills.
So who knows… give it a shot… run without your iPod for a run or two. Pay attention to your body and see what you think. It may not be a fit for everyone – but then again it may really make a difference!