I’ve always loved running with music. When I first started running, I made an effort to really think about nothing while running. It was my time to tune out and just move—and music seemed to be a natural extension of that. Listening to music on the run seems to both relax and energize me. I don’t think I’ll ever be the type of person that listens to audiobooks on the run (although I’ve been known to queue up a podcast or two every once in awhile), but music allows me to get into a zone and stay there.
I listen to a lot of different types of music, from Daft Punk to Metric to Phil Collins (not kidding). I’ve used an iPod shuffle for the past few years. I have a lot of songs that I’ve never removed from it, but I tend to rotate old and new songs when I feel like I need to change it up. The convenient thing about the shuffle is that it’s easy to press ‘next’ when you’re really not feeling the current song. Most of the songs I listen to have a decent tempo. This is especially helpful if I’m having a tough run because I try to match the tempo/beat of the song to my cadence (I recommend songs that are 150+ bpm)
According to my iTunes account, the songs that I’ve listened to the most on my iPod shuffle are:
1. Speaking in Tongues by Eagles of Death Metal
2. Long Distance Call by Phoenix
3. Help I’m Alive by Metric
4. Molly’s Chambers by Kings of Leon
5. Sweet Disposition by Temper Trap
6. Anna Molly by Incubus
7. Ambling Alp by Yeasayer
8. Everlasting Light by The Black Keys
9. Think Twice by Eve 6
10. One by Ratatat
(According to iTunes, I’ve listened to some of these songs 70+ times. I guess that just means I’ve run a lot of miles.)
As much as I like running with music, I still think there are situations when it’s best to go without it. I’ve been ditching music on my recovery runs lately because I want to make sure that I’m keeping these miles truly easy. If I’m listening to my iPod and a good song comes on, I can find myself naturally speeding up. Instead of listening to music, I listen to my breathing and footsteps. It can be easy to get a bit carried away on easy runs, so this helps me stay conservative.
Everyone seems to also have an opinion about racing with music. I’ve raced with and without it and I have to say, I like having the option of racing with it. I’ll often wear my shuffle so that I have the ability to turn it on or off as I please. For example, I wore my shuffle during the Boston Marathon, but only listened to it for probably 30 minutes of the race. The crowds cheering were all I needed to keep going—err, shuffling—but not all crowds are that rowdy and sometimes you need some “noise” to keep pushing.
In general, I think music can be really motivating in workouts and races. It’s all about personal preference. If you like running with music, keep doing that. If not, keep listening to your footsteps!
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