Usually I run with music blaring in my ears, and hiding the sounds around me. This means I also have not really paid much attention to the sounds I make while running. I have fallen into the trap many do and claimed that the music was like chewing gum for my ears to pass the time faster. Especially on long runs. Or perhaps it can be compared to an infant with a pacifier in its mouth instead of crying, or carrying a blanket for security.
A couple of weeks ago I participated in my first half marathon and found there was so much going on around me that I didn’t want the music. Lately I have continued to NOT turn on the music and have opted to listen to my surroundings and the sound of my own feet hitting the pavement. The other day I put my headphones in my ears, and didn’t realize until 16 miles had passed that I forgot to turn on the music. (DOH!) Let me tell you that it is truly an eye opening experience to hear things I have not paid attention to for awhile. I can hear my shoes scuff the sidewalk instead of softly landing, listen to my irregular breathing, hear cars coming as well as seeing their headlights in the dark, etc.
The first couple of runs were spent getting myself back in form. Softening my steps, not scraping my feet on some steps, breathing a little more evenly. Then after those first runs without music I am really enjoying the sounds. My shoes on the sidewalk are actually pretty fine music to my ears. The birds making noises in the morning is very peaceful. My breath coming in tune to every 4 foot falls is pretty rhythmic, and helps me detect when my pace has changed.
Speaking of pace changing, I also find that without the music I keep a much more steady pace. No more speeding up for certain songs and slowing down on the easy ones. I am running a much more steady route, and can more accurately gauge my fitness. Another small benefit is I no longer hear some of the songs that have become boring in my playlist.
Now I am not trying to say that I may never listen to music while running again. But for now I am enjoying the absence of it. I urge everyone to give it a try on occasion.