Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Running iPod free

Finally over my miserable cold, I was so happy to start running again this week. Going through my usual running checklist, I pulled on my running kit, laced up my running shoes, strapped on my Garmin, and.....that was it. That's right, no iPod.

It's a secret I've been keeping for a while actually. Once my absolute running necessity, I randomly stopped using it while training for the Dublin Half. I can't remember what triggered it exactly....I probably just didn't have it with me one day when I needed to run. And to my surprise, I liked running without it!

This is a far cry from a few years ago, when I really believed I couldn't run without music. In fact, when I ran the Brighton Half a few years ago...I was getting ready the morning of the race when I realized I didn't have my iPod. I had never trained or run a race without it, and I panicked. Luckily my husband has his iPod with him and let me use his. Now, I have to say that we have COMPLETELY different tastes in music and under normal circumstances I wouldn't listen to any of his playlists! But I really thought that having some music was better than no music at all.

And now?

One of my running buddies said she felt bored when she ran without music. But for me....after running iPod free for a run or two, I just stopped using it altogether. I didn't use it on any of my long runs OR when I ran the Dublin Half. When I recently ran my longest run ever--15 miles--I didn't have my iPod, either. And I didn't feel bored for a single minute!


I found that when I run without my iPod, it's almost like I have room to think. I have room to focus. I can think about every single step. My rhythm, my breathing. I can talk to myself about staying relaxed, getting into the flow. Of course, my mind still wanders but then I can refocus--talking to myself, encouraging myself, cheering myself on.

Now, I'm not saying I won't run with my iPod ever again. I've read countless articles about how listening to music can improve performance or reduce the perception of fatigue. And as I try to increase my running cadence, I will probably use music to help me get to that magic 180 steps per minute.

But I'm sure that for most runs--even as my mileage continues to increase--I won't use my iPod at all. I don't need it any more, because now I just listen to the sounds of the city, the sea, and my own thoughts. I am free.


  1. I'm with you! I only run with music when I don't really feel like running (not often) and it works to get me moving and pumped up.

    I most find myself praying when I'm running without music-it turns the runs spiritual. Odd, I know.

    Lastly, you didn't mention the safety feature associated with running without music. It seems safer when I I can hear cars and others around me.

    Great post. I enjoy your writing.

  2. I totally understand what you're saying about that spiritual feeling.

    Agree, it's much safer to run without music, especially where there's lots of traffic and people. In some races I think they even say music is not allowed. I tend to run in busy places so if I do listen to music, I keep the volume pretty low.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  3. I completely agree with you on this one! I randomly stopped running with music one day last year and I've never really started again. I like immersing myself in what's going on around me and find it much easier to listen to my body when I'm running without music. One problem though is that I get a song stuck in my head and tend to sing it to myself for my entire run. I had the Haribo jingle in my head for 12 whole miles a few weeks ago!

  4. @hongeontherun

    I DO sing to myself occasionally when I'm trying to get my pace up! :)

  5. I absolutely need my ipod, as I'm an awful runner who has to drag herself out and round! But I ran in what I call the countryside the other day and I didn't need it at all. I think the difference is running up the Edgeware Rd amongst traffic, I think I need music to pretend I am somewhere nice! I also like to choose songs that get my emotions fired up as that gets me to the end! And I do love a good sing session!