Unplug & tune in

Posted on June 4, 2013

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Be-all-thereOnce upon a time, I’d never consider running without music … or some sort of audio.  In fact, once upon a time, if my various pods, which I seem to have amassed in every possible colour and update, weren’t charged or loaded, I probably wouldn’t have run at all.  Much like my days when I was a Garmin addict I guess.

But a few times recently, I’ve let my ears run free and it’s been a joy. I’ve just returned from Europe having gone to run Annecy’s iconic Maxi Race.  The race was sadly cancelled due to too much snow but still, us fantastic four, braved the elements anyway and had a marvellous day out on the snow-lined trails, which turned out too to be the perfect cure for one very late night! All day, no headphones. Not once. And last month, when running in the Beaujolais Village Trail, after being convinced by Gary to ditch the digital distractions, I did so with ease. Thinking back to the Lijiang 100km in remote China last year, music was actually banned so that we could hear rock falls and (inshallah) move out of the way before being knocked off a cliff.

So … today, 10 reasons to ditch the tunes once in a while …

1. Preparation. Researching great books, sourcing the best podcasts, downloading the tunes we love, creating playlists, charging … all time when we could have just been out there running!

2.  Friendliness. Even if you run solo, it’s nice to wave, to say hello, to exchange some words to runners passing by … headphones cut down on our ability to interact.

3. Mood. The right music can, of course, have a positive impact but sometimes, the wrong song just comes on at the wrong time and that super pace you had going dies in an instant. Likewise, on a happy run when a sad song comes on … I’ve found myself in tears on occasion, brought on entirely by beautiful lyrics about loves lost and paths crossed.

4.  Annoyance. This is more if listening to the radio. Or an audiobook that tells a wonderful story but is entirely ruined by a grating voice.

5. Observations. We experience far less around us with earphones in. They stop us from being clued into our environment. Remove them however, and we can hear the birdsong once more … On a similar note, if pounding pavements, particularly in Dubai where curb-driving seems almost considered the norm, it’s so very important to remain aware.

6. Conversation. In a race or if you run in groups, it’s great to chat to different runners sporadically. Especially races where you’ve travelled far and wide and have that golden opportunity to connect with new people with different backgrounds and interesting lives. Earphones totally inhibit this. Some of my now greatest friends, I have met at past races …

7. Cadence. Your pace can be really influenced by music. Often without even realizing, you can speed up or slow down depending on the song selection.

8. Over-stimulation. We’re surrounded by technology all day long. ALL DAY LONG. I even take my iPhone to bed with me and have withdrawal symptoms from my iPad and Mac if not with me pretty much everywhere I go. Time then to unplug and take a breather!

9. Reliance. If you run with music all the time, you’ll become dependent on it and there loads of races these days that ban headphones. Note Lijiang example above!

10. Awareness. One of the simple joys of running is its ability to provide us with insight and clarity. Music or words don’t truly allow us to get lost in our own minds … and as we all know by now, only when you are lost, are you really found

So all you iPod junkies, try once in a while going headphone-free. I challenge you and who knows, you might just like it!

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