Sound vs Silence

To run with music or without? Join the debate

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05/06/2008 at 00:44

May 2001, Blackpool beaverbrooks 10 k fun run. I've spent the previous 10 weeks honing my 12 or so tracks that will see me across the line in less than an hour. No. 1 John Lee Hookers"Boom Boom Boom" No. 2 "Sweet home Alabama" Lynard Sknard, No 3 "Copperhead road" Steve Earle & so on, culminating in guns n roses, black sabbath & finally AC/DC to see me over the line. All is going to plan at the 5 K point, a nice bit of U2 "beautiful day" that will be followed by the clash "Londons burning" (the point where I pick the pace up!). The turnaround spells disaster, blazing sun, no air, legs turn to jelly. The Sony walkman feels like a lead weight attached to my shorts, sweat is pouring from me in torrents, my only thought is the work load of the night ahead. As Mc Donalds & the clash converge I realise that I've nothing left, all those hours of training, starting slowly then picking up the pace & finishing in heavy metal glory (easy!), it's all gone wrong. Walking now, I hand the Sony to the missus & stumble over the line in a dispirited 1:04. The last time that I have listened to music for running inspiration!

Since then I've progressed to sub 45 10 k's & I am generally a lot fitter than back in 2001. I do use an arm radio to listen to the football on an easy few miles on a Saturday afternoon, but I will never use the distraction of listening to music whilst I train. Even over 15 mile plus runs, I find that a varied & undulating route will keep me more focused than a run listening to my ipod.

05/06/2008 at 00:51

swoosh   v  hush.....

well each person have their own reasons for listening to music while training.. helps relieve bordom, helps motivation what ever the reason the fact is they are out running. 

The negative, they put up a do not disturb message especially during races ..

05/06/2008 at 09:24

I find that beats to go with my heart rate/breathing rate are better than those to match my stride cadence.

So something like Golden Brown by The Stranglers would be perfect!

 One of my favourite all-time tracks to run to is "Heart in a cage" by The Strokes. It's about mental enough to make me run like the wind, whatever stage of a run i'm at. 

05/06/2008 at 09:44

See, there are occasions when an absolute stormer of a song - something that makes you feel you can fly - works far better than silence. I ran for the first time to the new Vampire Weekend album the other day- just an easy 3 miles, and for the middle mile, which was off road and undulating, I threw myself across the ground because the music was all consuming, I couldn't hear my breath...it was awesome..

When I reached the final mile (the road home) I turned the music off and trundled home.

So that's definitely a case of music getting the blood up, in a good way

05/06/2008 at 10:26
I find a nice bit of cheesy 80s pop can really keep you going at 4.30am when you're trying to break a 48 hour treadmill world record.
05/06/2008 at 10:29
05/06/2008 at 10:30
I couldn't imgaine running on a treadmill without music
05/06/2008 at 10:55
if it wasnt for snoop dog,ll cool j,and lotsof aggressive rap and hiphop i would find it difficult to run up hills!
however if i have a pal to train with or an event to do i prefer to soal up the atmosphere
when i have a niggle or injury im in recovery from though it is best to turn the music off,listen to breathing,hr etc for me
i second that about the treadmill though,it can be mindnumbing without music to keep me going!
05/06/2008 at 11:11
Although I would never use an mp3 player while running outside (I'd end up trying to run to the beat and looking like the funky chicken) I also need music on the rare occasions I use a treadie. But on the speakers, not over headphones. Ditto when I'm using the rowing machine - a good blast of ska or rocksteady helps to keep a nice riddim when doing the longer slower stuff. Nothing better than some good loud Jools Holland and his r&b orchestra for the faster stuff.
05/06/2008 at 11:50

 Just be careful about running along to Radiohead or Massive Attack, that's what I say...

Ika
05/06/2008 at 12:29

 I once stopped to help a woman who had been mugged. I don't think I would have heard her asking for help if I had had my music on as she was sitting on a bench next to the path and too shaken up to actively stop me.

Also, last week my partner came off his bike in a remote location - he was okay and able to help himself - but again it got me thinking - what if someone had been injured, was out of sight and was calling for help. When I asked him what would have happened if he hadn't been able to move, he said he would have just shouted as it was a popular mountain biking area and someone was bound to come by soon. But it got me thinking and I do feel that its important for cyclists, hikers, runners, horseriders and everyone else who helps to keep paths and bridleways active and open to look out for each other.

05/06/2008 at 12:49

Personally I am really into music and do get an enormous lift when I hear certain tracks on my ipod during a run. 

I find that I can be going through a bit of a tough period, feeling all in, with miles to go but if the right tune comes on I instantly feel physically fresher, mentally brighter and the pace picks up almost effortlessly.

However, I have ditched the ipod for most runs now as I feel that the effect is too strong.  I really had to ask, who is meant to be in control, me or the ipod?  I found that my pace was being controlled by my reaction to the track being played, rather than any mental discipline on my part.   

Runs that were meant to be, say 13 miles "easy" pace, were turning into 7 miles tempo pace (due to excess motivation from the music) followed by a very knackered 6 miles limping home after the excess effort early on.

I'd say music can help, but its a double edged sword. 

05/06/2008 at 12:58

Stick the rocky balboa sound track on and anyone will increase their speed, with that on in your ears you will be on course for a 2.5 hour marathon, you have seen them on the TV, Paula Radcliffe has Balboa running along side her all the way!!

05/06/2008 at 13:34
Heh. At my circuits class on tuesday we were working out when 'eye of the tiger' came on. I did feel like I was in a very bad 80s training montage, it has to be said...
05/06/2008 at 13:37

On a more serious note, if you find running so unpleasant that you have to resort to the means of taking your mind off it, then perhaps it just isn't the sport for you.

Good point I saw earlier in the thread. I's not as though it is forced on anyone is it?? 'Oh god I have GOT to do that 10k charidee run next week - how the hell am I going to get through it without music??

Why not do a nice sponsored walk instead? (actually - what happened to the good old sponsored walk?)

05/06/2008 at 13:38
Heh. At my circuits class on tuesday we were working out when 'eye of the tiger' came on. I did feel like I was in a very bad 80s training montage, it has to be said...I was turning up at the Intercounties cross country a couple of years ago and a bunch of lads turned up with EOTT blaring out. Well funny.....
05/06/2008 at 13:48

I always run with music, unless I'm either running a race or at night (although it depends where at night).

All my training's done at 5:30am when all I can hear is my own heart beating, I find music is a huge motivator, I've tried it without and I just can't get into my stride without it. 

05/06/2008 at 14:19

I don't with music. I have no doubt, though, that a suitable selection of favourite motivational choons can help greatly with motivation and all the rest of it, particularly on longer runs.

But for me there is a serious downside too. Firstly, the loss of "engagement" with the world around you - be this shunning the sheer pleasure and peace of immersing yourself in a beatiful place while running, or choosing to shut yourself out of the atmosphere and camaraderie of a race or event in favour of music. Secondly, and probably most importantly, I just think it's potentially compromising your safety and, occasionally, the safety of others.

For me it's safety over entertainment any time

05/06/2008 at 14:19
First sentence should say "I don't run with music"
05/06/2008 at 14:27
Sometimes I run with, sometimes without.  Sometimes I race with, sometimes without.  I don't agree that there's a safety issue provided that your brain isn't in neutral - for example, sound not too loud, paying attention to what's around you (I'd never run listening to something I needed to concentrate on, like a Bach Partitat or an audiobook - just banging choons to get the blood pumping).  People who are a danger in races with headphones (by the way, they're not always iPods - other makes of mp3 player DO exist) are just as likely to be a danger without - for example, at the last Oxford Town And Gown that I ran (2007) there was a gaggle of somewhat over-weight ladies, all with belts bulging with energy drinks and snacks (for a 10k - I ask you ) lined up at the sub-35 minute mark.  Needless to say, they made a very good traffic jam.  None of them was wearing headphones.  For my money all those people who bang on about health and safety are symptomatic of today's risk-averse, nannying society, which I personally find increasingly regrettable.
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