Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Joy of Running Unplugged

I am an outside runner. More than that, I am an outside runner who does not listen to music while she runs.  

This is an age-old debate. There are runners who swear by their iPods and MP3 players and those who refuse to wear earphones.  

There are many reasons I do without, and I am constantly reminded of this on every run. My primary reason is safety. I am a small female who prefers to run alone. If I'm on a trail in some park somewhere or out in the early morning hours when it's dark and barely anyone is around, I need to be able to hear if any creeps are trying to sneak up on me. Being attacked is something I would very much like to avoid.

Another reason is because I like to let my thoughts go where they like. Running can be extremely meditative. Music is a distraction. These days, I mainly think about writing ... but I've also trip planned, focused on my running form, solved work problems, and have even had pretend conversations with random people in my life (I know you've done it too and trust me - it's therapeutic). If I had noise going on in my head, I wouldn't have been able to allow these things to happen.

Because I like to run outside and without headphones, the last and most important reason for me is a big cliché but I'm going to say it anyway: I like to be in touch with nature. Blegh, right?  

Burrard Street Bridge in Vancouver by early morning moonlight. I mean, if "morning moonlight" makes any sense. And yes, of course it's a dark picture. It was dark out when I took it.

Seriously, though. Living along the coast, I think runners who plug in here are squandering the opportunity to partake in all that our wonderful city has to offer. We are very fortunate in that the beautiful landscape lends itself to wonderful sights and sounds. I've been on countless runs where I've stopped to watch boats, listen to the waves lapping against the shore, see the sun rise over the water, and observe the seals hanging around in the harbour - although, I would not have noticed the seals if I hadn't heard them first.  

The saying goes: "Stop and smell the roses." Well, I think there should be one about stopping to listen. There's plenty to appreciate if only we learn to unplug long enough.


  1. Music messes with my running tempo; I usually speed up when I'm supposed to be taking it easy. People who listen to music on trail runs frustrate me, not only do they miss out on the peacefulness of being on the trail, but they have no idea that someone is behind and wants to overtake!