Breaking away from the crutch

Of headphones, that is.

When I first started running, it was to train for a race for life. I had not run since school (and even then I didn’t enjoy it) so I found a run/walk plan and followed it to the letter. I managed to run the whole race for life, and then realised I enjoyed it, so carried on. Anyway, I found the sound of my loud breathing very alarming, so I started listening to music while I was running to help me focus on something else.

After getting annoyed so many times as the headphones yet again fell out of my ears, I bought some with a solid band, and these are perfect. I have a tiny mp3 player which can fit in any small pocket.

I started doing other races (local 10K’s and a half marathon) but took my mp3 player with me. I was always sensible and had the music down very low, so I could hear people around me, the marshalls and so on.

At some point I discovered marathon talk, and began to listen to talking podcasts more and more. I had found that I was tending to run to the beat of the music, so if I was listening to something slow I would slow right down, or I would get annoyed if it was faster music and I couldn’t keep up. By then marathon talk planted the seed and I then signed up for the Stockholm marathon. In the run up to it we did a 20 mile training race/ run, and as it was run on the roads you could not have headphones for safety reasons, but I ended up chatting to the back marker for the first hour, and it was not too bad. Headphones were also banned for the marathon! So I had to run it with nothing to distract me from my breathing. In fact, I could have worn them as I saw other people with them. There was one point in a park, a little over half way I think, and it was very lonely as there were no spectators and not many runners around me. I really could have done with a little boost then, but hey, I managed it still. Andy also did the marathon and in his training he started out listening to podcasts (I think he would download some football ones) but soon he stopped and even on long runs he would not listen to anything and I could not understand how he managed it.

Since then I have not used my mp3 player in a race- I have actually found it enjoyable to look at the spectators, and take in the surrounding views and listen to what other people are saying.

Last year I had to have a break from running as I was awaiting (and then recovering) from an operation, and so to help me get back into it in May last year I started going on runs with the local Sweatshop running community group, and although some people listen to their headphones I never have. Sometimes I run with someone and we chat, sometimes I am on my own and I just think. I run there and back, and I suppose I could listen to something for that part, but I have never fancied it. I quite like just thinking and running.

I have also started running longer runs with Andy, and during those we would chat (or on the hills he would ask me if I was OK and I would try to answer through my gasping!)- I ran faster on those runs than any on my own.

Finally, I have started going to Parkruns. I love these- seriously check them out! Again, I see people with their headphones but I see it as more of a social run, even though I tend to run around alone.

Last summer I did a few runs while we were on holiday in Hawaii (as I had only just started running again and was doing the Great North Run soon after we got home) and it was wonderful to run by the sea (plus I had to remember the route back to the hotel…)- I didn’t want anything distracting me or taking my mind off it then!

I still enjoy listening to podcasts when I run on my own, but I do think running with nothing to listen to has benefits too. I like to zone out and enjoy a gentle run, and podcasts are perfect for those sorts of runs. But I still want to speed up, and I find that I run faster when I focus my mind on running a bit more and don’t have something taking my mind off my running. I still really enjoy running and I am glad that I can go out without the need for my headphones.

Do you listen to music/ podcasts when you work out? I couldn’t imagine a body pump class without the music, but then people lift weights in the gym with just their thoughts for company.

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11 thoughts on “Breaking away from the crutch”

  1. I listen to music, have considered some aftershokz bone conducition but planning buying for my BF and seeing how he gets on. I would seriously consider giving up my run if I couldnt listen to music.

  2. Very interesting! I won’t listen to music or anything on the running cub runs because it’s so sociable and there’s people to chat to or just be around. But if I run on my own I’ll listen to a podcast. I just get bored otherwise.
    For Parkrun I like music as it really helps keep me going as I find it quite fast and I need that boost. Same with races but lots of races, like you said, don’t allow headphones and that’s OK sometimes because then I can focus on the race. But when I did the New Forest 10 mile I got a bit bored – it was just too loong.
    For my marathon this year I will definitely wear headphones for at least some of it, though I might make myself wait until mile 10 or something so it’s something to look forward to.

    1. I think that is a good idea to have music with you for when you need it- I wished I had taken it with me to Stockholm (it said it was banned but I saw loads of people with them, and as long as you can hear the marshals it is fine I think).

  3. I listen to music, marathon talk podcasts and sometimes a combination of the 2 if the runs are long because it takes me longer than an average MT podcast to run 12 miles 😉

    1. Yaeah when I was training I used to have marathon talk, loads of radio 4 stuff like feedback, food prog, medical matters, you and yours, and maybe something funny like Adam and Joe, or a daily show like Richard Bacon. I used to need hours of stuff!

  4. I do like going for a run without music once in a while, makes a nice change. I could never do a race without music though, I do turn it off when there are big crowd sections or at the start and finish though.

    1. I think in the gym I would need music for sure, as it is so boring!But being outside is lovely and I find my mind can wander for ages.

  5. I marshalled parkrun the weekend before last, and I was surprised how many people were listening to the music on the way round. I don’t listen to music on parkrun. I get a bit paranoid that I sound like a steam train, but I also want to make sure that I can hear anyone faster coming up behind me. I do listen to music when I’m just running out and about, but not so loud that I can’t hear anything.

    1. I hate hearing my breathing! But I agree on Parkruns I need to hear the people lapping me (ours is an out bit, 3 laps and then back so I can get lapped twice quite easily!)

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