a case for running without headphones.

Ive been running for years now, off and on…. Really since high school when i was somewhat forced into track. Honestly, i had nothing else to do after school while i waited for my older brother to finish baseball practice. So, track. But that’s not the point of this story, and sorry for a shitty start.

But, yeah… been running for years. Between different shoes, outfits, distances, “desires and goals,” and styles (track, trail, road, etc.), one thing really remained constant: headphones pumping my brain full of Alkaline Trio, Blood Brothers, Aesop Rock, Wu Tang, and other familiar hits that i felt were the only things that could possibly keep my legs pumping, especially on those longer runs.

So, the case FOR headphones (from my POV) first…

There’s something to be said for music during runs, especially if I’m out for a quick morning burner or a longer trek through Portland and surrounding areas. I fucking love music (which is the lamest thing I’ve ever written), and I have used it as a tool for motivation over the course of my lifetime. Getting over girls, winning over girls, campfire singalongs, karaoke, being in bands, top-of-the-lungs roadtrip screamalongs, live shows…. All of it.

Apply these same feelings to running, and, when that certain song hits at just the right time, holy fuck… It’s the difference between wanting to stop and knowing you can’t stop. (Won’t stop, can’t stop, won’t stop… etc.)

All this to say, headphones. Huge fan. Dig you. Thank you.

Now, the case for turning the music off, again from my own POV…

A little under a year ago, after finishing my first marathon, I suffered, what some runners and “doctors” would call an injury. Never actually diagnosed, I basically pulled my groin times 10 and fucked with my right adductor to the point of sidelining myself.

Fast forward 4 boring and PT-filled months (the PT wasnt boring, the not-running was….), and I was back running, slowly building miles again with a phantom pain nagging in my head.

Which brings me to the whole point of this meandering rant….

During these months of recovery, I finally started listening to my body. As absolutely obvious and potentially dumb as that sounds, I realized that, if I wanted to keep going with this sport, and as I aged, I had to take it seriously.

That’s when, half by need, half by curiosity, I ditched the headphones, and I haven’t looked (listened?) back.

I first went without music making my brainwaves bounce on my first run back from injury. I was intent on listening to what was happening in my legs:

– Was there crunching (ew…) or clicking?
– What did my stride actually sound like?
– Were my shoes too loud like the ones you hear about (no pun intended)? (NOTE: My shoes weren’t too loud.)

But after that first run back, something struck me harder than the pain I felt when the first injury hit: I run with more awareness, more focus, more consciousness, and more confidence when I have nothing but the sound of my cadence and the environment surrounding me blasting into my ear drums.

A new sense of calm

I have since not reinterred a world where I am listening to music when I run. The time I spend hitting the road or trails has now become more than just a routine to maintain, but an exploration.

– What will I hear today?
– Why did something hiss at me from that bush?
– Did that fucker legit honk at me for crossing the street on a green w/ a walk sign?
– How is it I win literally every argument I have when running?
– Something seems amiss with my leg. Why can I hear that pain running up my thigh?

These have all contributed in someway and somehow to finding a better form and becoming a stronger runner.

I gotta believe there’s some truth in shutting out all noise in favor of just hearing what is happening to your body, and how it’s adapting to the surrounding environment.

And in this listening, I am a calmer person.

search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close