Run with music or without music?
Sometimes yes, and sometimes no. There is plenty of debate on this. Here is how it has gone for me.
First, some background. I’m relatively new to running. I ran a little bit as a kid and a little bit as an adult, but really started running in 2009. But I’m not new to music at all. Music has been an integral part of my life for a long time. I started playing piano at age 10, graduated with a degree in music years later, and worked with music in church for 25 years. All that is to say that I would usually prefer to be experiencing music at all times and during just about all activities.
In fact, when I took my first running steps in 2009, my goal was to “run the length of one song on my iPod.” I couldn’t, by the way. So it comes as no surprise that I incorporated music into running early on. There was a time when I couldn’t imagine going out for a run without tunes in my ears.
I know only use my yurbuds on about half of my runs – but only while training, rarely during a race. However, I still sense an extremely strong connection between music and running. When I’m not listening to music, I’m imagining that I am. I hear the songs I’ve trained with in my mind.
By playlists for running are titled: “RUN,” (all purpose), “Last 10K,” (used to use for the last 10K of a marathon), “160+ Run,” (songs with at least 160 BPM – or 80 – however you see that), “170+ Run,” (songs with at least 170 BPM), and “Jesus,” (my Sunday / Long Run playlist).
The Jesus playlist is my favorite. I use it when I do those Sunday morning long runs. It is my running worship time. I’ve had some wonderful moments running along with this playlist. I think my favorite connection on that list so far is the song “Forever Reign,” which happens to stride perfectly with an adequate running pace. Here’s the hook:
And oh, I’m running to Your arms
I’m running to Your arms
The riches of Your love will always be enough
Nothing compares to your embrace
Light of the World forever reign
For moments, then, I’m running into the arms of Jesus. All is right with the world. I’m filled with hope. Sometimes I’m tired and hurting, but this one always picks me up. And it makes worshiping with this song in church that much better.
There are many other songs that create strong connections such as these. This song and others like it make me look forward to those long mileage days. Another one that pumps me up and is a blast to stride to is “So Beautiful” by the band Sevenglory.
All of that being said, I think it is very important to be super careful when using music. We’ve got to pay attention to what is going on around us. We have to pay a lot more attention than drivers do, than cyclists do, and even than dog walkers do. In a big race, it is important to be able to hear. By the way, yurbuds are designed to enable you to listen to music AND hear noise around you. I think they are the best. And they won’t fall out.
Training without music enables me to pay more attention to my breathing, my stride and the my foot strike. I think it is best to mix it up. Sometimes the music really helps to minimize distractions. At other times, it can get in the way.
So, no rule from me. I love it with music, and I love it without. Now get out there.