Tuned in or tuned out?

Posted: October 21, 2010 in Running

I rarely, if ever, listen to music or podcasts when I run. I’ve been asked why several times and I always jokingly say that I like to hear the sound of the horn just before I die. Some people can’t imagine running more than a few minutes without music due to the fear of boredom or lack of motivation. For me the real reason I choose to not to listening to anything while I run with safety issues aside is simple. I’m just not comfortable with anything in my ears or on my head while I’m moving fast for long periods of time. I can go for a quick miler or so with headphones on but not long runs. My attention while running would go to the volume, constant adjustment, song selection, etc., instead of what I’m suppose to be doing, running.

I have on occasions listened to podcasts while I run. When I’ve done this I’ve noticed that my thoughts are only focused on what I’m listening to and in turn I don’t listen to my body at all. Rather I just go through the motions. If there is some ache or pain that my body is currently feeling I might notice it but my mind puts it on the backburner. This in certain situations can be good, say for example your running a 24hr race and mentality you need to make your mind distracted at the end of the race to relieve any pain. Other times bad. It just depends on how far your going or what your doing.

When I go on long runs by myself without music I noticed I’m more aware of my surroundings. Obviously I can hear what’s going on around me better, but what I noticed I’m more in tuned to my others senses like smell and touch. What’s interesting is that when you run longer than a hour in nature your mind can come up with amazing thoughts and ideas or some times it can just shut off. This reminds me of scholars that I read about in college like Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson who talked a lot about the importance of nature. When you do surround yourself with nature and then come back to civilization you are reminded about that the simple pleasures in live. You then almost adapt to a simple living way of life.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t plan on ditching all my belongings and moving my family into a hut because I took a bunch of trail runs. What I’m saying is that the reason I run is to take escape from civilization sometimes and to also take a mental break. So I think the question really is, do you run to really tune in or tune out?

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