Should You Run With Or Without Music?

Happy Monday, y’all!

Before I jump into a rather serious subject *chuckle*, I would like to remind you that my giveaway for Armpocket ends tonight at midnight. Make sure to enter your chance to win this amazing fitness gadget here.

It is Week 4 of my half-marathon training! The training is as follows:

Monday – 4 miles
Tuesday – cross train for 30-40 minutes (Total Body + Booty)
Wednesday – 4  miles + Yoga
Thursday – cross train for 30-40 minutes (HIIT + arms)
Friday – rest day
Saturday – 7 miles + Abs
Sunday – rest day

*Week 1, Week 2, Week 3*

IMG_1232 edit.jpg

Last Saturday, when I went for a 6-mile run, it dawned on me: I have been running without any music for the past month and a half! Somehow it just happened, which is somewhat crazy considering the fact that I was always dependent on my Ipod so much.

It goes back all the way to my Spartan training. *You can read more about races themselves here: Sprint, Super, Beast 1 & 2.* I remember thinking to myself: How am I gonna pull myself through without any music to pump me up when my energy runs low? But I managed without it. It was the first time, believe it or not, that I ran without any music. *Obviously, excluding the ‘unfortunate’ times when I was training and my battery died mid-run.*

And this got me thinking. It happens that in the past month and a half, my running has been the most enjoyable. I guess, at first I started out running with Sofia in a stroller and wanted to be aware of my surroundings for the safety of my daughter,so I didn’t listen to the music. Then I brought my dog, Bella, along with me and wanted to be aware of any people on bicycles, roller blades, etc. *Read more about how to run with you dog here.* And here I am, actually enjoying running without music. Who would have guessed?!

jumping over the fire

I turned to Google for help. According to Runners World’s poll, it appears that the majority of runners prefer to run with music:” 74% – say runners should listen to music while running, should they so choose. 8,354 voted yes, 2,974 voted no.” 

I was not surprised to see that, especially that I was dependent on it as well. But then another question popped: What are the benefits of running with and without music? Here is the result of my brainstorming and research.

Reasons to run WITHOUT music:

  • I personally feel more in tune with my body. I find it easier to focus on my breathing and foot strike when there are no other distractions. I am able to be aware of my effort.
  • As I mentioned before, it is more safe. I can hear if a car is approaching. It is easier for me to react if I am in danger.
  • I am not sure if it is a direct result of not having music blasting in my ears, but I have been able to reflect much more than previously. Before, I struggled with my inability to’get lost in my thoughts’, but not anymore. I’m enjoying to have the opportunity to explore what’s happening in my head and to be in tune with myself. And because of this, my runs seem to fly by.
  • Finally, I truly started to enjoy my surroundings: The birds chirping, the breeze, the sound of my feet hitting the ground, Bella’s panting. It is incredible to be able to enjoy and to be in the moment.

Super Spartan fire

Pro’s for running WITH music:

  • It’s easier for runners, especially beginners, to get distracted from running discomfort to make their runs more enjoyable and easier.
  • Music as an external stimuli can block of some of your fatigue and get you pumped. This can result in longer distances or even faster speed since a perception of your body’s limits is reduced.
  • Upbeat songs can elevate your mood and create excitement.
  • If you do it properly, music can create opportunity to change up paces.
  • It is definitely a life savior on a treadmill since music creates at least some entertainment in otherwise monotone workout.

Super Spartan finish line

I came across some advice some time ago, I think in Runners World, that it’s optimal to go for at least one run without music for every two times that you run with it. To me it makes sense, since there are many races in which headphones are forbidden.

What are your thoughts? Do you run with or without music?

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Filed under Running

46 responses to “Should You Run With Or Without Music?

  1. I like to run without music too! I also like to life without music…. it helps me focus more on what I’m doing!

  2. 27 years running, no music ever.

    Of course, when I started running there were no MP3 players or earbuds, so it would have been a Walkman with headphones. Ugh. No thanks! I had a portable CD player I used for work travel at the time, but that was prone top skip even just walking! So you might say that ‘running with music’ wasn’t really an option in the late 80s when I started running!

    But I echo a lot of what you say:
    – I love feeling at one with nature
    – I love the sense of peace, calm and reflection
    – I get SO much thinking done
    – Safety … I have never run with stroller or dogs, but even on my own I find hearing my surroundings critical.
    – I can hear my breathing, my footfalls, and feel in touch with my body in a way that I always know what is going on.

    I know many people can’t think about running WITHOUT music … but for me, I can’t think about running WITH music. 🙂 But – whatever works for the runner, right?!?!

    • Totally! It’s crazy though how times have changed! It made me giggle the idea of running with a CD player. I now understand why I had so much trouble thinking of anything before, and the answer is pretty obvious: All I needed was the peace and quiet 😀

  3. I almost always run with music. I’ve had the same play list for quite a few years, and it just keeps me running calm.

  4. So glad to have found your blog! I tend to only run with music on the treadmill, though I do sometimes listen to podcasts outside.

  5. I do both! Some runs you are just ready to get it get it and don’t need help. Some runs, you need everything to get through 😀 As long as you are safe, it doesn’t matter!

  6. For me, it depends on the environment in which I am running as well. While I’m getting familiar with a new city, I prefer to run without headphones so that I am absolutely aware of traffic. If I am using a treadmill, I like listening to music to keep things interesting! On the trail, I enjoy the sounds of nature and sometimes find myself talking or singing along! Great post stirring a curious question! Thanks for sharing, Olena!

  7. I usually run (read as 90% walk) with music… But, some of my best ones have been when I forgot my headphones and was forced to go without music. Those are the enjoyable walks when I actually had a chance to connect with nature and my thoughts and just live in the moment!!! 😀 😀

  8. I would love to win the Mega i-40™ – I love your content and your review of this product!

  9. Love hearing your thoughts on this! I am so torn on running with vs. without music. I WANT to be someone who runs without it, but I love music and the distraction it provides. I’ve done without it on short distance races but I’ve rarely done a marathon without it. Twice, my iPod glitched out and I had to run Boston sans music. That went okay, but I wished in the later miles that I had the distraction. One day, I will wean myself off it!

  10. Russ

    No music outside. Always music on a treadmill.

  11. That’s funny, I realized recently that I never run with music (or at least, very rarely). I like to use my running time for intense introspection, figuring out the hard stuff. I also feel like sometimes the tempo gets in the way of my cadence (that’s the singer in me)!

  12. There was a time when I couldn’t have imagined running without my Daddy Yankee, Pitbull or Mana. Now that I run with other people a lot more frequently, I find that I don’t always play my music even when I’m running by myself. Music still helps distract me, so I do turn on my Pandora when I need a pick-me-up. Happy running!

  13. I haven’t run with music in a few years! (except when I run on the treadmill). I used to think I needed it but now I wouldn’t want to run outside with it, both for safety reasons and just personal preference. I feel much more in tune with my body when it’s just me and my thoughts out there!

    • I’m with you on this. I was used to delay or even cancel my runs if my ipod was dead. Can’t believe it! I guess we’re so used to constant noise around us that sometimes we tend to be afraid of being alone with ourselves.

  14. Music can get you through a tough spot for sure. Drives you mad in an event when people aren’t aware of their surroundings though – on the fence!

    • People who aren’t aware of their surroundings make me go crazy, period! Haha! Especially, when you are trying to navigate through Costco with a stroller and they literally jump out nowhere or stop abruptly in the middle of an aisle 😀

  15. I love running with music. There’s just something about having an upbeat song come up on my playlist that brings a smile to my face, even in the middle of a difficult run.

  16. I appreciate both, but tend to run with music more. It helps me get lost in happier thoughts with a good beat.

  17. I like running with music. Sometimes I also listen to motivational podcasts to help me push harder. I’ve found myself starting my runs without music before and had to stop and put it on. Lol!

  18. I’m split on this topic. If I’m trail running NO MUSIC! I love to just go out there and clear my head. If I’m running on the treadmill or on the street I NEED MUSIC!

    I love listening to Podcasts recently too during easy paced runs. I listened to one last night and ended up running 3 miles longer than I had planned because I was so into my podcast haha!

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  20. I always used to run with music and sometimes it was so hard finding the right music to pump me up and keep me motivated. But something happened last year where I tried it without and surprisingly I was able to enjoy running a lot more. Being able to hear my foot-strike did wonderful things for my stride and pace. There’s a beautiful rhythm to our running strides. I do like music with lifting.

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