I have a proposal for anyone who often runs with headphones, especially those of you who feel you absolutely need them: drop the beats! I’m challenging, no, urging you to go on your next five runs without music. I know change is scary. It’s frightening to imagine a world where Calvin Harris and Aviicii don’t pound your eardrums with club thumping motivation, but that world exists. It’s glorious and I’ll get you there.
Regardless of your future preferences, you will come out on the other side of this trial having learned something about yourself and your overall health and wellness. My shift towards music free running was inspired by the best girl dog and girl human I’ve ever met ;-) They’ll appear later in this post. Here are the observations I have made and questions to ask yourself along your way.
Listen from the ground up
-Listen to your steps. Are they quiet or loud? If you were chasing a gazelle like our first Sapien ancestors (you have to read this book, it’s mind blowing) would the gazelle know how close you were, or might it stop for a drink thinking it were safe? Which part of your step is the loudest and what does that mean? Running is after all just a series of long steps strung together, so listen closely and figure out what each of your steps can tell you. Addressing your running steps can benefit how your body feels before, during and after your runs.
-Listen to your whole body. What feels tight? What hurts or almost hurts? Does the stride with your right leg feel exactly like that of your left? If not, where do you feel the differences? You can notice these things while listening to music, but in my experience I’m not nearly as connected with my body while doing so. A thoughtful connection to the body is what will prevent you from ignoring your body when it begs for a problem to be addressed.
-Listen to your breath and heart. We sometimes forget how connected these two functions are. Can you hear your breath? Is it steady or laboring? Can you feel your heartbeat and feel the blood get to different parts of your body? What?! You may think that you can’t feel it, but trust me, when aware and focused, you can! This is totally fascinating to me, but hey I’m pretty weird. What does it tell you? I realize I’m providing a lot more questions than answers, but that is only because each one of your music-free running experiences will be different from everyone else’s. Believe me when I say that these are important questions, and thinking about them can really enhance your experience.
-Listen to your mind. There are books on meditating while running, but maybe you’re not ready to go there yet. However, think about it, your mind is constantly churning on runs for better or worse. I challenge you to simply be aware of where your mind goes while on your first few music-free runs, and don’t try to change or control it. On the 3rd and 4th runs maybe you choose 2 subjects, mantras or energies that you want to direct your mind towards. Does your mind wander or worry? Does it shift towards negativity when you start to fatigue or does it encourage your legs and lungs to power through? Thinking this way is going to help you connect your mind and body and ultimately lead to, wait for it... enjoying a run! (if running was previously just a “health chore”) If you already enjoy running, a new found mind/body connection can not only raise enjoyment, but also elevate your performance as well!
-Listen to the world around you.
So this post has really taken an unintentional turn towards Buddha’s house (I like to picture my Buddha as a world class, super chill decathlete.) Regardless, I have experienced music free running, I love it, and I stand by my words! With all of the aforementioned internal listening, it may seem overwhelming to add the outside world to the “listen list,” but it’s definitely worth it. Hear the tree leaves rustle along Jamaica Pond (#bodhiandfey’s favorite run), the gentle splash of The Charles River on its rocky edges, and hear the faint click of your dog’s talons gripping the ground. If you do not have a dog, go rescue a damn dog, preferably a coonhound! (your landlord will never find out.) Can you tell I’m also a die-hard dog lover?! That’s a whole other post! In the meantime, open your ears, mind and heart on your runs and take it all in, you deserve it, and I bet you’ll love it!
Well, I guess while we’re chatting about dogs…..10 Health Benefits to Having a Dog
Please let me know if you’re dependent on music on runs and are going to give it a try, I’d love to hear feedback or give you a bit more inspiration. If you have any questions email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, good luck!