I have been wanting to do a post about running with music since before I started the blog. Then, I started searching for pictures to start building into my post, and I realized the topic has been beaten to death on the internet. That being said, if you're still wondering why I'm advocating for running sans music, here are my top three reasons.
1. It is not safe
Running with music in your ears, means you're not listening closely enough for other objects/hazards around you. I think running on the road with music speaks for itself. On the trail, you could be missing animal noises, foul weather sounds, or other traffic on the trail (e.g. mountain bikers or equestrian riders).
2. Willpower and self-motivation
Would you rather be motivated by sounds blaring in your ears, or would you rather be self-motivated to keep running? Think about that ominous "bonk" distance runners talk about. I believe a similar extreme fatigue can take place in shorter distance runners too if they haven't paced their exercise appropriately. Your ability to cope with this exhaustion and push through it will mean a lot as you increase your distances.
Take a moment to appreciate the surroundings and view. Even if you are forced to the roads for a while, try to take your mind off of the monotony by looking up and enjoying the diversity of your location.
3. Less to carry
Though I am not scrutinizing every ounce of weight that I run with, I do try to keep unnecessary things at home. Even if you are running with an iPod Shuffle, or something related, you are still having to deal with cord management, batteries, and song selection. What you should be focusing on rather, is listening to your breathing, looking at your foot placement, and being in-tune with your body.
Making the Switch
If you're used to running with music and you are ready to make the switch, it will take some time to cut the cord of dependency. Try to focus your attention elsewhere on runs (e.g. the sounds around you, stressful things going on in your life, etc.). Focusing on your stressors sounds counterintuitive to the mental health benefits of running, but sometimes you could see that these long periods of time help give you focus and direction on the very things that are bothering you. Be sure to not focus too much on the negative though, that's a ball of wax you probably don't want to get into.
So, get out there and run. Feel free to report back in the comments your take on running with/without music.