GFGL FIT BLOG: Soundtrack to My Life

I have always listened to music when I run and I was ecstatic when I found out my scheduled marathon is allowing iPods and the like this year.

I was a little surprised when I found out that it was only recently that races were allowing headphones and iPods. Music has always been one of the main reasons I like to work out. I’ve ended runs short because my iPod died and I’ve stayed out longer because I found that one right groove. I know a lot of people like the whole listening to your own breathing thing, but I tend to get bored. Alone in my head is also the only time I want to be exposed to the entirety of  R. Kelly’s Trapped In A Closet.

I found this while doing my usual perusal of RUNNERS World…

Studies find that music reduces your perception of how hard you are running by about 10 percent. An external stimulus such as music can actually block some of the internal stimuli trying to reach the brain—such as fatigue-related messages from muscles and organs. When these messages are blocked, this reduces a runner’s perception of effort, so you feel like you can run farther, faster.

Science! Neat! But they also had the con side…

One big problem is that listening to music can remove you from the other sounds that running produces, such as breathing and foot strike, which are essential cues. They give you feedback on your effort. Running while listening to music also removes you from the environment you’re in, which can be unsafe. You may not hear a car or person behind you. You may not hear thunder in the distance. And in races, it makes you oblivious of other runners and you can’t hear the directions being given by officials.

Ahhh, logical points. But still, well over half of all runners utilize music and that probably wouldn’t change anytime soon. While I still definitely plan on cranking up the tunes for my races I can see why rules against it maybe a good idea.

A recent message from the lovely Miss Maggie Young got me thinking about my own work out soundtrack and why I listen to what I do when I do. My musical tastes when I run tend to be a bit different from what I would listen to, say, in my car or getting ready to go out in the evening. I maintain that no friends or boyfriends should ever have to be exposed to these playlists. I forced some friends of mine to listen to one of my running mixes on a road trip once just to see what the reaction would be and I’m pretty sure it confirmed to them that I am, in fact, a weirdo. Its “pump up” music, but I firmly believe that what you listen to during a workout is the most basic extension of your emotions and personality at the time. It’s like the stuff you crave after a bad breakup–super emotional and kind of angry and loud. The stuff you might hear at a rave in 1998. Then again, I’ve also listened to entire episodes of NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion, too, so maybe it’s all about being distracted.

Because I continuously drop my iPod while working out (which looks really dorky when there are a lot of people around and jeopardizes probably the most expensive thing I own) I’ve been trying to find one of those arm band things that let you be all hands free. I think an iPod shuffle would also do the trick (notes to those imaginary people who buy me things!) But maybe I should try a few miles in silence just to prove to myself that I can.

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One Comment on “GFGL FIT BLOG: Soundtrack to My Life”

  1. Kelsey Cruz
    February 14, 2012 at 7:27 am #

    I have the iPod nano (I think) and my friend just got a wristband that attaches to it, almost like a watch. They are available at most sports stores like City Fitness and only cost about forty bucks. Happy running!

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