Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Racing to the music

The Globe and Mail had an article today about the racing while wearing headphone debate. Of course, it caused a lot of debate (some dumb, some reasonable).

The general two sided debate (boiled way down) goes like this:
Pro: 'Running with music helps keep me going'
Con: 'Aren't you a running purist?'
I'm somewhere in between. When I just started doing long runs of more than 1.5 hours years ago, I found that I needed the music to keep me going, it was something that kept my mind off the effort taken to run. Later, as I improved, it became a nice way to zone out and have your personal space, but not necessarily needed to help push myself.

I now do not run with music, especially during my marathon training. I find that I do want to listen to my body. I need to hear myself breathe, I need to concentrate on hitting my strides and hitting a good cadence. I don't think I'm a running purist by doing so, since I make the (technological) concession of running with my GPS and I do monitor pace and distance. I'm definately a slave to my Garmin.

I do agree with the safety angle: Just this weekend, on trails in DC, I had countless cyclists call out 'On your left' as they passed by and I always tend to stick to the right side of paths to let them get by. I had a few times when I was running with headphones when I couldn't hear cyclists, which is why I now ban myself from wearing headphones on trails with bike traffic. On races (the subject of the article), I could never run and race hard with music... but that's just me.

I do think that there's something to be said for running a long run without a soundtrack, with just the world whizzing by on cars, bikes, buses. It's just you, pushing yourself forward, feeling the effort with each step. During those runs, I've had countless eureka moments or moments of clarity after seeing the beauty of the outdoors, sights and sounds that I'm glad I didn't miss.


Arcane said...

I never used to run with earphones, but now I will occasionally do a long run with them. I always keep the volume way down though. I'd never wear them during a race.

Ryan said...

my philosophy...

For training solo, I use the iPod at reasonable volume.

For races and training runs with other runners, wearing the headphones is a no-no.

yumke said...

.. i'm with both of you.. i have yet to find a pair of earphones/headphones that are comfortable to wear while running.. the earphones always fall out.. i think i need a bluetooth headphone