embracing the beat: running with music

The other day it was a gorgeous day. Kiddo and I spent a lot of time walking around the neighborhood with a friend and her daughter. Because it was such a great day out, I let napping go a bit. Unfortunately that makes for a crabby baby.

Despite Kiddo’s apparent crabbiness, Paul watched him while I took off on a run (that’s why he’s such a good husband). Lately, I’ve been running without a plan; just running for the sake of running. I love being outside and alone (even for 20 minutes), so recently, I haven’t cared about how far I’ve been going. This particular day wasn’t much different.

However, what made this run stand out from other runs was the first song on my playlist. It was Lady Gaga’s “Teeth” (In true Gaga fashion, the video is a bit weird, sorry about that). For some reason my iPhone was turned up to an ungodly high level, but when this particular song started playing I quit caring. If you listen to the song you’ll understand when I say the song has a very clear and distinct beat. Immediately, I was ready to run hard.

Listening to music while running is a highly debatable topic. Some people swear by it, others wouldn’t be caught dead wearing headphones on a run. I, personally, am torn. I find music encouraging and motivational. It can be dangerous (not only for your ears, but you can’t hear your surroundings), and it can actually hinder your running.

Marburg, Germany, where I lived for a semester during my Junior year.

That was actually my problem when I first tried running. I became serious about running in the summer of 2008. I had just come back from studying abroad in Germany and needed to shed a few pounds (I had been on a strict diet of Auflauf, Kirschwein, and Kinderschokolade). However, whenever I went running, I would come home completely worn out. I felt like I had been hit by a car. I couldn’t understand why, because every runner I had ever talked to never mentioned feeling so awful. Tired? Yes, but not this bad.

I soon discovered that I was working myself too hard. I had actually tried to start running in 2006, but I was experiencing the same feelings (like I had just been mugged and left for dead) and back then I had been quick to throw in the towel. I figured out that listening to music while running was actually hindering my experience.

When I started running, making it to this bridge and back home (about a mile or so) was my goal.

Rather than giving up for the second time, I decided to try running sans music. I left Gaga at home and really focused on running well. I realized that I wasn’t listening to my body enough because I couldn’t hear myself. I started focusing on breathing better and after some time I was able to add music back into my runs.

Now, I love listening to music while running and you will rarely find me without my iPhone. And there are days when I embrace the beat of each song. That is exactly what happened the other day. As soon as I heard “Teeth” I knew I was in for a hard run. The next song was by Nine Inch Nails, then two by Timberland, followed by Gorillas. Each song had a strong beat that I tried to match with each stride I took.

I think I ran a little over 2.5 miles in 27 minutes that day. I wasn’t really concerned about how far I went, or even how long it took, I just wanted allow the music to push me harder. It was probably one of my most favorite running experiences yet.

What’s your opinion on running with music? Do you embrace the beat, or is it better for you to run without the distraction?

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