The Sound of Silence

I recently read a Reuters article about the effect of music on a workout. In the piece, Shirley Archer, a spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise notes that “Music is powerful because it stimulates different neural pathways in the brain and taps powerfully into our emotions and our memories.”

I completely agree with Ms. Archer and other researchers who recognize the benefits of exercising with music. I’m usually disturbingly attached to my iPod for long runs-it serves as a distraction and motivates me when things get tough.  But on Saturday’s long run I tried something different.
I ran in silence. For two hours and thirty nine minutes.

I was mildly very skeptical about running sans music.

And it was glorious.

At first, I was a bit panicky and I thought about taking out my iPod, but I decided to try it for a mile, then a mile more and then I just forgot about wanting my iPod at all. Without the distraction of music or a podcast, I was able to let my mind wander. When portions of my run got tough, I talked myself through it (literally-I yelled “Get it D. Wolfe!” multiple times). At the end of 18 miles, I saw that I had run my most evenly paced long run and held an average of 8:53.

But wait a second!

I had always thought that music would help me run faster, so I decided to do some investigation into why my run seemed to be more evenly paced and dare I say, enjoyable?

Runner’s World suggests that this might be because running without music makes you tune in to running mechanics essentials, like foot strike and breathing and also makes you conscious of your environment, so you’re able to focus on the here and now rather than the finish line.

So am I ditching my iPod? Absolutely not. Like many runners out there, music amps me up and helps me have fun during tough runs (a recent study backs this up). Whatever the case may be, I’ll definitely start doing more iPod free runs.

Are you for or against music during long runs?

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