Do you listen to music regularly as part of your running routine? If it is, I would like to challenge you to run without them on your next run. It may not be as difficult as you think. Then share your experience and/or your opinion with us on this topic. Just add your comments at the bottom. We would love to hear what makes running enjoyable for you!
It has never been my experience to listen to music while running and I am pretty sure that I never will. Initially when I was learning how to run, I chose not to for practical reasons. I wanted to keep running simple. I didn't want to have a gadget strapped to my body with headphones dangling about while I was running. I just wanted to travel (run) light!
Now, after many years of running music-free, I know that I will never want to listen to music while running for other more significant reasons. For me, running is about developing mental and physical strength and confidence. It is about being fully present with the sensation of running and movement and learning what feels right and easy. It is an opportunity to experience genuine peace and quiet with a clear mind. It is a chance to enjoy and focus on our surroundings and how our bodies feel along the way.
Listening to your favorite tunes while running may be a fun way to relax and unwind, but it can prevent you from receiving valuable feedback from your body on how you can improve. It is difficult to keep track of your pace, monitor your breathing or notice how your legs are feeling or how your feet are landing. You will also miss out on other feedback from your effort such as muscular tension, which can be very helpful in preventing running injuries.
180 steps per minute is the most efficient rate for running regardless of your speed. How can you focus on your stride turnover rate while listening to music?
There is both pain and pleasure associated with running and we need to be able to effectively deal with both. Many runners use music to block out the pain and discomfort of running. When you pay attention to running pain, you will learn how to deal with it in a way that is helpful in preventing injuries. As we learn to deal with pain we grow and become wiser as we discover how to correct imbalances in our bodies.
Running with music can be viewed as trying to run away from your mind and the thoughts that arise while running. The problem with this approach is that the thoughts will always be there until you allow them to arise, deal with them and become stronger mentally.
Without music, running can be a meditative experience. There is a natural harmony and balance that exists when we run with mind and body fully connected as one. You empower both your mind and body when you give them your full attention. A strong mind and body connection is needed to fully engage with the experience and to grow and develop as a better and more confident runner.
"True confidence is grounded in the unity of mind and body."
-- Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, author of Running with the Mind of Meditation
To develop a strong unity of mind and body, we must be mentally present while running. Follow your breath and focus on where you feel it in your body. Our breath can connect us with our life energy force (prana) which has the ability to provide us with energy, keep us present and increase body awareness. Increased body awareness can help prevent injuries and improve running form.
I understand that beginner runners may feel like they need music to keep them motivated until their muscles, ligaments and bones are conditioned for running. However, in the long run, it will prevent them from developing their own inner motivation, mental toughness, concentration and body awareness. They become dependent on a device rather than on how great it feels to run.
Running can be an amazing journey of discovery and growth. Be present and enjoy it fully!
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