Not my preferred companion running or riding.

I did something strange today. I'm still not sure why, either. When I got up to run, the world still cloaked in darkness despite the lingering full moon, I decided I wanted try running with music. Like I said, I'm not sure what I was thinking. I've occasionally used my iPod for trainer workouts and treadmill workouts, but I've never been able to stand listening to music outside. I feel to disconnected from the world, from the experience of what I'm doing. I've tried it a few times for road rides - felt terrified. I couldn't hear the cars or my music and lost the sense of what was happening around me. Once for the mountain bike, but again, it wasn't pleasurable. I really felt out of touch and not aware of riding my bike. I've never tried listening to music outside while running. I know I can't tolerate it when on the treadmill unless I'm just running. And for those runs, I try to avoid the treadmill! So for what ever reason, I decided it was time. After all, not being able to wear headphones in races is a huge issue.

And all I did was reaffirm my belief that instead of locking your mind away in the soundtrack playing in your ears, it's times like this that help make your own soundtrack. I was torn between having the music soft enough that I could hear what was happening around me and loud enough to actually hear the music. I couldn't find that perfect medium ground where I could hear everything. The earbuds blocked my awareness of the traffic (good thing there wasn't much out at that hour.) I also found myself less aware of the surroundings because I was trying to listen to the music. Maybe it's me - maybe because I've gotten used to running and riding without music, I haven't developed the situation awareness required when hearing is removed. I doubt it. I also found that I was missing things - simple things that make running before the sun rises enjoyable. The sounds of the city waking up were gone and I missed it. If someone had been around me, I would have noticed their presence too late.

The experiment is over. Granted, it was a one time test and I'm already pre-disposed to not enjoy music on the run. But the things I lost for some tunes didn't make it worth it for me. I'd rather create my own music - my breathing, the footsteps, my heartbeat - then be constrained by what my iPod throws at me. So if you see me on the road or on the trail, feel free to smile and say hi. I'll hear every word...


  1. Using just one earbud is the key I've found! I'm not often a music runner (and definitely not bike) but occasionally on a long run I like the company. But, I have to hear the world around me 100%, so one earbud with moderate volume of music so it's more background than anything works great.

  2. I know a lot of people who do that. I might try it - but I've also never really needed the company of music. Enough listening to myself think!


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