Sunday, March 6, 2011

Running with Music

To run or not to run with music. That is today's question. And it also happens to be a very hot debate among the serious runners of this world. While some feel as though it's nothing more than a motivator in the background, others believe it's a serious distraction that keep you from truly engaging in the run itself. Back in 2007, USA Track & Field (USATF) went so far as to ban music at officially sanctioned races. Obviously this caused a huge uproar, leaving them with no other option but to amend their rules. It now only applies to those runners who wish to compete for Championship status. The official text:

But even with this official ruling, so many of us non-Champion runners are sill debating the "to run or not to run with" topic. I personally, find it much easier to get through my runs with a set of buds in my ears.

My logic coincides with the logic of many other music-usin' runners: it fights boredom. Plain and simple, I need a distraction. I need music in my ears for the same reasons I needed a coffee shop instead of the library whenever I had exams to study for. Silence deafens me with my task at hand, ultimately to the point where I can't truly concentrate. So a distraction actually enhances my ability to focus. And in the case of my running, said distraction is music because it really, truly keeps me going.

An article from Runner's World magazine confirmed this, saying that "music reduces your perception of how hard you are running by about 10 percent". Interesting, right? It has something to do with signal reception in our brains. (Isn't the human brain amazing!)

Despite the science, many people argue that the distraction factor is exactly the problem. They will tell you that running isn't about, well...simply getting up and running. Certain factors play into one's running game, and one must tune into these factors to make improvements. They argue that music impedes your ability to finely tune into said factors. Like your foot striking the pavement or the heaviness of your breathing. You can feel it, sure. But sometimes hearing it makes a difference, too. At least to some people. Sometimes hearing it makes you feel it even more. And this group will argue that only then can you truly tune into your running game. Makes sense, really.

Of course, there's always the safety issue. If you're running outside, your music might be louder than the car (or approaching person) behind you. No one can argue with music's ability to tune you out to dangerous situations.

I guess there will always be at in-between group who feels that all of the above can happen with music in the background. I fall into this category on occasion. Despite the music, I do find myself paying close attention to my foot strike and my breathing. Especially when I'm rocking the Vibrams. But again, when the going gets tough, I find myself needing to be distracted from it all. Because only then can I truly focus on keepin' on.

Speaking of Vibrams. If I ever become a mother, my child will rock these:

Are they not stinkin' cute? What is it about things in miniature form? I had this same conversation the other day. Seriously, I'm a sucker for little stuff! The travel-size section at my local Bed Bath & Beyond is like a clearance shoe aisle. Don't even let me go near it! Little Vibrams? I didn't even know they existed! And I love them. But anyways...

I'm reaching a milestone tomorrow. Tune in for "one" heckuva post.

Question: Do you run with music? Why or why not?


Tammy said...

Hey...this works on my phone now! Thanks! Sometimes I run w and sometimes without. If I need a break from a crazy day and just need time to think. Sans ear buds. But those days I'm dragging and need motivation. It's music alll the way. I've even kept the ear buds in to use my iPod to check time/pace but not have music playing. I don't think there's any reason to make the topic cut and dry one way or the other. If it keeps you motivated and you know your body well enough to run the music. Or not.

Unknown said...

Yay, mine is working now too. It was a cookie issue for me I think!

TARA said...

Hooray! Sorry about the commenting issues...if anyone else is having issues, check your cookie settings. Accept cookies and it should make a difference. Ah, the joys of the internet and all its lovely, wonderful kinks!

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