Running. It isn't just a love or hate situation. You can love it and hate it all at the same time. Some of us look for distractions to take our minds off the run while others try to take in what is happening around them with all their senses. Of course, that is an over-simplification. Since the transistor radio and the Walkman (portable cassette player) music has become a running partner to many of us as we head out the door with our running shoes strapped to our feet. Yet at the same time the gift of music can also be a curse and we will look at a few of those pros and cons in this article and then you can make an informed decision.
Music is a great distraction from the monotony of the run. It takes your mind somewhere else other than the treadmill, park path or street you are running on. Sometimes we need distracted from the weight of the day or all the business the day has brought or will bring.
Music is a great distraction from the monotony of the run. On the downside there is an inherent danger in using headphones while running, especially outdoors. While the mind is able to disengage from what is happening we need to be careful of our surroundings. It doesn't matter if you are on the trail or on the street, headphones take away the vital sense of hearing. It lessens your ability to hear traffic, horns, bikes, other runners, dogs and any other noises that could be alerting you to danger or annoyances. It is important to be careful. As a matter of fact it is so dangerous that many if not most races do not allow participants to use earphones. Check with your upcoming race if you are in the habit of using them.
Music motivates. There is no doubt that when the right music comes on, it can push us onward. Many of us have playlists for exercise or running. There is proven evidence that music has the ability to affect our emotions and give us that extra push. There is music that stirs all emotions and stirs the soul. Music can touch us deeply and even motivate us to change. Music is a powerful medium whether we realize it or not. Music is a gift to the weary body when you need that little extra something to keep moving forward.
Music while running can cause us to miss out on the beauty that is happening around us. Sound as well as sight teach us about our surroundings. The sound of the wind in the trees, children laughing and playing in the park, the birds chirping. Ok, that last one was a little cheesy but I think you understand the point. Sound is a gift. The same reason you love listening to music as you run could be keeping you from enjoying the sounds all around you.
Earphones create a sense of privacy. Sometimes you just need that space to call your own. Once those earphones slide in your ears, music becomes the soundtrack to your life. There is no need to engage others, get caught up in chit-chat but it simply allows you to clear your head and be alone, even in the middle of a crowded gym. There are times in our week when this is vital to our own well-being.
While I just made the point of finding some space for yourself and having privacy, we live in a culture that isolates itself. As I ride the public transportation or go to the food court many folks are sitting together but few are talking. They are mostly playing games on their phones, texting, playing on the internet or listening to music. We are losing connection with our fellow humans. I even watched two girls sitting together at a restaurant on their lunch break not speak a word to each other the whole time because they had earphones in and were watching their own tv shows. Some of the best conversations you can have with someone is on a run.
This was written not to give an exhaustive list of pros and cons. It is simply to help runners and others start thinking about this choice. It may seem like a small thing but it matters. There are many opinions to these pros & cons as well as others. What is yours?