When I’m alone in my room sometimes I stare at the wall
And in the back of my mind I hear my conscience call
Telling me I need a girl who’s as sweet as a dove
For the first time in my life I see I need love
There I was, giggling about the games
That I had played with many hearts and I’m not saying no-names
Then the thought occurred, tear drops made my eyes burn
As I said to myself “Look what you’ve done to her”
I can feel it inside, I can’t explain how it feels
All I know is that I’ll never dish another raw deal
Playing make believe pretending that I’m true
Holding in my laugh as I say that I love you
Sayin’ amour kissing you on the ear
Whispering I love you and I’ll always be here
Although I often reminisce I can’t believe that I found
A desire for true love floating around
Inside my soul because my soul is cold
One half of me deserve to be this way till I’m old
But the other half needs affection and joy
And the warmth that is created by a girl and a boy
I need love
Romance, sheer delight how sweet
I gotta find me a girl to make my life complete
You can scratch my back, we’ll get cozy and huddle
I’ll lay down my jacket so you can walk over a puddle
I’ll give you a rose, pull out your chair before we eat
Kiss you on the cheek and say “Ooh girl, you’re so sweet”
It’s deja vu whenever I’m with you
I could go on forever tellin’ you what I do
But where you at, you’re neither here nor there
I swear I can’t find you anywhere
Sure you ain’t in my closet or under my rug
This love search is really making me bug
And if you know who you are why don’t you make yourself seen
Take a chance with my love you’ll find out what I mean
Fantasies can run, but they can’t hide
When I find you I’m a pour all my love inside
I need love
I wanna kiss you, hold you, never scold you, just love you
Suck on your neck, caress you and rub you
Grind moan and never be alone
If you’re not standing next to me You’re on the phone
Can’t you hear it in my voice? I need love bad
I got money, but love is something I never had
I need your ruby red lips sweet face and all
I love you more than a man who’s ten feet tall
I’d watch the sunrise in your eyes
We’re so in love when we hug, we become paralyzed
Our bodies explode in ectasy unreal
You’re as soft as a pillow and I’m as hard as steel
It’s like a dream-land I can’t lie, I’ve never been there
Maybe this is an experience that me and you can share
Clean and unsoiled yet sweaty and wet
I swear to you this is something I’ll never forget
I need love
See what I mean I’ve changed I’m no longer
A playboy on the run I need something that’s stronger
Friendship, trust, honor, respect, admiration
This whole experience has been such a revelation
It taught me love and how to be a real man
To always be considerate and do all I can
Protect you, you’re my lady and you mean so much
My body tingles all over from the slightest touch
Of your hand and understand I’ll be frozen in time
Till we meet face to face and you tell me you’re mine
If I find you girl, I swear I’ll be a good man
I’m not gonna leave it in destiny’s hands
I can’t sit and wait for my princess to arrive
I gotta struggle and fight to keep my dream alive
I’ll search the whole world for that special girl
When I finally found you, watch our love unfurl
I need love
LL Talking:
Girl, listen to me
When I be sitting in my room all alone
Staring at the wall
Fantasies, they go through my mind and I’ve come to realize
That I need true love and if you wanna give it to me girl
Make yourself seen I’ll be waiting
I love you

Everyone at Runner’s World fell in love with running for a different reason: It connected one of us with our dad; it helped one of us get over a breakup; it makes one of us feel powerful; it transformed our relationship with food.

The reasons vary, but our mission is constant. We believe the world is a better place when more people run. And, we believe that if you go all-in, running will change your life.

Don’t know where to start? Our Love to Run Guide gives you the expert advice, resources, and motivation to make running feel more effortless, pain-free, and rewarding. To do that, we’ll walk (or rather run!) you through five steps.

Step 1 Step 2 Step 3 Step 4 Step 5

Step 1

Starting a new habit is hard, especially when it’s one you might kind of dread. But here’s the trick: Don’t go all-out, and swear you’ll run six days a week if you’ve barely run before. Create a realistic schedule and stick to it.

Pro Tip: Lay your running outfit next to your bed the night before. It’s one less thing you have to do before a morning run.

Treat your training time like you would an important appointment, and if you’re really struggling to commit, find a workout buddy or a group so you have a solid reason to get out there as often as you need to.

Where do you want to begin?

Start by Walking Start Running Run for 30 Minutes Run for an Hour Run Faster

Step 2

For newbies and seasoned runners alike, it’s crucial to set goals. Giving workouts a purpose—whether it’s to lose weight, finish that first race, or set a personal best time—makes them more valuable than running mindlessly. Goals keep you consistent.

Pro Tip: Always aim to start your race or run a little slower. Using a conservative pace to start primes you for a great finishing kick.

But it can be daunting to plan your own training schedule to reach your goal. Fortunately, we’ve got plenty of resources to help you out. If you have a question, or just need a pep talk, fire away here. We’ll be checking back daily to make sure you’re on the right track.

Tools to Keep You Locked on Your Goals

Find a Training Plan

Talk to Us!

Calculate Your Pace

Stay Mentally Strong

Lose 25 Pounds

Step 3

You really only need shoes to start running.

That’s mostly true, which puts a lot of pressure on finding the perfect pair. The most surefire way to do this is to head to your local specialty running shop. They’ll put you on a treadmill and analyze your stride to match the right fit and style with how you naturally run.

Pro Tip: Consider replacing your running shoes after 300 to 500 miles.

Once you have the kicks, you’ll want to add a few other essential pieces of gear to your closet to make the run more comfy such as a friction-free pair of shorts, performance socks, and sweat-wicking tops.

Build Your Ultimate Running Outfit

What to Wear in Any Weather

Essential Running Gear for Men

Buy the Right Running Shoes

Essential Running Gear for Women

The Complete Guide to Socks

Step 4

If you feel pain, you’ll want to take a break. Which means the most important factor in becoming a consistent runner is becoming a healthy one. When first starting out, there are a few common injuries that can plague you if you’re not careful. Luckily, you can avoid these issues altogether by taking some precautions. First, make sure you don’t ramp your weekly runs up too quickly. Even if you are feeling great, going too hard too early can lead to injuries, since your body isn’t used to the effort.

Pro Tip: Up your weekly mileage by no more than 10 percent to avoid injury. That means if you run 10 miles the first week, don’t run more than 11 the next.

Additionally, strength training and stretching are key to strong, pain-free running. Squats, lunges, glute bridges, and planks are great for strengthening your legs and core—two muscle groups that help you run faster and longer.

Finally, you’ll also need to spend some time in the kitchen. Nutrients such as carbs, protein, fiber, and iron will give you energy, build your muscles, and ensure you don’t “hit the wall” (runner-speak for not fueling enough to get through a workout).

Learn to Run Pain-Free and Strong

The 6 Most Crucial Exercises for New Runners

The Most Common Walking and Running Injuries

What Should You Eat Before Every Type of Run

6 Ways Running Makes You Healthier

How to Finally Nail the Most Efficient Form

Step 5

You’re never going to head out the door if you don’t have a reason. It doesn’t matter how small or big it is, you just need to find one. Sometimes it helps to read about someone else’s amazing journey.

Pro Tip: You need at least one easy day after every hard day of training. We recommend you recover with your feet up, reading a print issue of Runner’s World. Subscribe Here

For this guide, we’ve compiled the 50 most inspiring and impactful long-form stories Runner’s World has ever produced. Need a kick (and a reason) to get out the door? We recommend starting here.

Settle in for These Motivating Reads

Why You Can Run Long, No Matter Your Size

Is it possible to be fat and fit? Healthy, happy, and heavy? At 250 pounds, distance runner Mirna Valerio provides an inspiring example.

His Life and Body Shattered in a Terrible Accident. How Running Rebuilt Him.

Bret Dunlap thought just being able to hold down a job, keep an apartment, and survive on his own added up to a good enough life. Then he discovered running.

How Six Courageous Women Changed Running Forever

In 1972, only six women entered the NYC Marathon, but what they did at the starting line would start a movement. The untold story of a momentous day.

What it’s Like to Run in Prison

To the Oregon State Penitentiary inmates who are allowed to run and race, it’s much more than a metaphor.

They Finished the Boston Marathon When People Said they Couldn’t

The story behind Juli Windsor and John Young’s historic run.

The first step to running more easily is to buy a pair of Bluetooth headphones. Cutting the cord allows you to move more freely and the sound quality of wireless headphones has improved massively in recent years; there’s never been a better time to invest in a pair. Without wires, you have more flexibility in where to put your device.

PROTIP: Using on or over-ear headphones during exercise means better sound quality and no fiddly earbuds falling out BUT make sure you add a pair of sweat-proof covers to your headphones because sweat is corrosive and it’ll damage the cushions and internal electronics.

Don’t have or want wireless headphones? You can run the wire up your sleeve, through the neck of your shirt to keep the cable loose. This way you won’t have the wire flapping around.

Use a Smartwatch with GPS and Musical Playback

This is the easiest and most effective method of listening to music when you run but it’s also the most expensive. The Garmin Forerunner 645 Music has space for 500 songs. Pair the Garmin with your headphone and away you go. If you have Spotify Premium, then you can access your playlists directly from your watch. The smartwatch is light and you’ll barely notice it on your wrist – the beauty of this is that you leave your phone at home entirely. Sounds ideal? The price might not. At $449.99/ £399.99, it’s not cheap but it’s certainly highly effective.

Check the Wireless Range of your Headphones When You’re Running

If you’re working out in the gym, then your wireless headphones may well have a range that reaches a nearby locker or strategically placed gym bag. The treadmill will be able to feedback to you information on distance, speed and calorie burn to keep your workout armband and hands-free.

It sounds obvious but when you’re shopping for new gym wear, then buy something with pockets. This is easier for men than women. Pockets are like gold dust in female gym attire and even if you’ve found leggings, shorts or joggers with a pocket, then you’ll probably find that it’s either far too small to put anything in or that it’s sewn up. Fashion first – right, ladies? Urgh. If you want the holy grail, find yourself some shorts or trousers with a zip.

Put Your Device in Your Sports bra When You’re Jogging

You can buy sports bras that come with pockets. Remember, though, that if you’re working out hard, then things will get a little hot and sweaty. Some women don’t agree with keeping a phone there because they’re concerned that it could increase the risk of breast cancer.

Get a Small Music Device Like The Sansa

We were surprised to see that there is demand for old-school MP3 style music players on Amazon. Somewhat reminiscent of the iPod Shuffle (which you could also use), these small players can easily be slipped into a small pocket or clipped onto clothing. One of the biggest sellers is the Sansa Clip. Obviously, this will depend on how hi-tech you like your running because there’s certainly no GPS or run-tracking but it does provide a very affordable way of running to music without a bulky armband.

You can buy the Sansa Clip on Amazon.com
You can buy the Sansa clip on Amazon.co.uk

Run with the Nike+Forearm Sleeve

Maybe you’d prefer to have your phone closer to hand – literally – during your run. The Nike+ Forearm Sleeve sits against the lower arm for easy accessibility. Its protector is touch-screen compatible and waterproof. You can buy it on Amazon

Workout with the FitBelt

The FitBelt is a tubular belt with multiple openings that sits flush against your waistband but is wide enough to hold your phone, keys, credit cards and money without bulging or being too bulky. It’s used by 2 million runners and could be perfectly paired with touch-control cup headphones.

There’s no bouncing when you wear it either. So even though in principle it’s similar to an armband, it’s actually far more suited to athletic needs either in the gym or outside of it. There’s a secure tether for keys and a wedding ring, too.

We LOVE running in headphones and to protect the cushions and internal components of our cans we use sweat-proof covers. Ear Hugs come in a range of awesome designs and are all fully reversible to black. They fit almost all major brands including Bose, Beats, Sennheiser, Sony, Philips and Skullcandy. They’re machine washable, too, and £1 from every sale goes to support the Mental Health Foundation.

More and more, runners are using headphones to drown out the distractions in their heads to push them through a run. That’s according to a 2016 survey conducted by Runner’s World, with 61 percent of runners polled saying they listen to something while on the run, and 82 percent of those runners jamming to their favorite music.

Those numbers were similar in 2017, according to a 2017 Running USA trends study. With more than half of runners saying they love to plug in with a playlist or podcast, it’s clear that the trend isn’t going anywhere.

Still, some purists consider running with something in your ears sacrilege. This conversation has been happening since the invention of the Walkman.

Over time, research and experience has been able to piece together some positives and negatives of running with headphones that may help you decide whether to tune in or tune out. Here are three reasons you may want to put some earbuds in for your next run, and three arguments against cranking up the volume.

4 Top Headphones for Runners

AfterShokz Trekz Air Aftershokz amazon.com $119.95

Bone-conduction technology lets you leave your ears uncovered, so you can hear the world around you.

Jaybird Run True Wireless Jaybird amazon.com $109.00

The smallest, most secure pair of totally wireless headphones we’ve found is a solid deal.

Plantronics BackBeat FIT 2100 Plantronics amazon.com $88.26

Hey, marathoners, we got more than seven hours of play time with these sweatproof earphones.

Bose SoundSport Free Bose amazon.com $199.00

When sound quality matters above all else, these are the earbuds you need.

Pro: You get pumped up for runs

Every runner experiences a day (or many days) where training for that 5K, 10K, half, or marathon is the last thing you want to do. For those days when you need a little extra motivation, your favorite playlist may be exactly what you need.

Costas Karageorghis, Ph.D., a sports psychologist who studies music’s positive influence on athletes, agrees that compelling tunes can help get runners into an optimal mindset to tackle that dreaded training run.

“Music elevates positive aspects of mood such as excitement and happiness, and reduces negative aspects such as tension, fatigue, and confusion,” Karageorghis said in a Runner’s World Running With Music debate.

Research from The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research backs this up, finding that listening to music before a training run or 5K will help get you fired up and better prepare you for what’s ahead.

Tip: Listening to the right music while you are running is important: the last thing you want is for a slow song to come on right when you start trudging up a hill. Save time creating the perfect running playlist and check out one from Runner’s World.

Pro: You learn to keep a consistent pace

Many runners prefer to run without music so they can focus on essential cues, such as their breathing and foot strikes to help them control their pace. Music or podcasts distract from that, right? Not necessarily.

If done correctly, music can actually help runners with pacing while training. In a recent study conducted by PLOS One, runners performed better when the beat of the music matched their cadence than when they ran without music.

Karageorghis suggests listening to fast-tempo sounds exceeding 120 beats per minute (BPM) for high-intensity workouts and music with less than 120 BPM for workouts requiring less effort—like your weekend long run. (Another bonus: The right music can actually help you recover from a hard workout.)

Tip: Try Podrunner or a Spotify running playlist to help you match your music to your pace.

Pro: Your runs could feel easier

Training for any race is difficult enough as it is, so why not make it a little bit easier on yourself if you can.

According to a study conducted at Keele University in England, playing your favorite tunes while you are running reduces exertion levels and increases your sense of “being in the zone.”

How it works: The external stimulus of music is actually able to block your internal stimuli like fatigue, which is trying to tell your brain how tired you are starting to get in the middle of a run. When a runner’s perception of how hard they are running is reduced, they feel like they can run faster for longer. Maybe they’ll even better find that coveted runner’s high.

Tip: If you need some extra motivation to complete your hardest workouts, kick up the tunes in your music player of choice. A recent study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that when subjects were doing a strenuous cycling workout, they produced more power and had a stronger turnover rate when listening to their favorite music.

Con: You’re blocking out your surroundings

One of the main reasons to leave your headphones at home is for your own safety. Even around Runner’s World headquarters, there’s barely a run we don’t come across distracted drivers, cyclists, or oblivious walkers (sometimes with their own headphones in).

If you are consumed in your music on a run, you might not be able to hear approaching cars, people trying to communicate with you, or even bad weather in the distance. In 2016, there were more than 3,000 deaths caused by distracted drivers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

If you know you’ll be on a busy road or packed towpath, it might be best to ignore the headphones for one run.

Tip: If you feel like you must have music, try a set of headphones like Trekz Titanium, which are wireless and don’t plug directly into your ears—allowing you to still hear the environment around you.

Con: You could throw off your race pace

While training with music has been proven to be a valuable tool, it isn’t something you want to bring with you on every training run. You don’t want to become dependent on music to get you through a run because on race day, you might have to be your own inspiration.

U.S. Track & Field (USATF) originally banned the use of portable devices for all runners in its sanctioned events in 2007. It later amended the ban to only apply to “those competing in Championships for awards, medals, or prize money.”

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It is always a good idea to check the rules and regulations associated with each race in the early stages of your training. Even though the original ban has been relaxed, some race directors still strongly discourage the use of portable music devices, especially in crowded fields.

In addition to potentially becoming reliant on music to get you through a run, it can also throw off your pace during a race. Jim Denison, Ph.D., who is a sports sociologist and coach, used the example of a runner surging up a hill because they passed a band during a race.

“It is inefficient to run a race unevenly like this, and it will come back to haunt you,” Denison told Runner’s World.

Tip: To guard against this, Denison suggests using your watch and checking your splits early in the race to get a read on your pace. This will help you know exactly how your race pace should feel when you’re not depending on music.

Cons: You impair the running experience

In today’s society, distractions from technology are everywhere, and a person without a phone in their hand is a rare site.

Running is a way for many to clear their heads and get away from these distractions, and Denison believes music negatively effects that experience.

“The ability to be at peace and be calm is something we’ve lost in our culture; we’ve lost it in favor of multitasking. I would argue that listening to music—or podcasts or audio books—while running is a form of multitasking,” Denison said.

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“It keeps us too plugged in and prevents us from enjoying the running experience.”

While there are days you might feel like you need the extra motivational boost from your favorite tunes, there is something special about being alone and running with only your thoughts and nature.

Tip: Unplug those earbuds every now and then and listen to the world around. It’s good for your soul.

10 tips to safely listen to music while running or biking

Running or cycling roadside can result in accidents if you aren’t careful. Consider these tips to preserve your hearing next time you head out.

Getty Images

Among the running and cycling communities, there’s an ongoing debate about whether or not you should listen to music while on a run or ride. On one hand, listening to music while working out may improve your performance and help you sustain your workout for longer.

On the other hand, listening to music while biking or running roadside presents danger, as headphones and earbuds impair one of your most important senses — hearing.

Because music makes most things more enjoyable and most people aren’t likely to leave their headphones behind, I rounded up 10 tips for safely listening to music on your next bike or run.

Now playing: Watch this: Jaybird Vista: A sporty AirPods alternative with better… 4:37

1. Leave one earbud out.

You might think this defeats the purpose of wearing earbuds while running and biking, but you’d be surprised at how well you can still hear music with just one earbud in. Leave open the ear that’s facing traffic so you can hear everything that comes your way.

2. Don’t use noise-canceling headphones or earbuds.

Noise-canceling headphones and earbuds definitely have their place — airplanes, subways, crowded offices and other noisy environments. The road is not an environment where noise-canceling headphones would serve you well. If you must leave both ears covered, wear a pair of regular headphones that still allow you to hear oncoming cars, sirens and other traffic sounds.

3. Try bone conduction headphones.

Bone conduction technology, like the name implies, delivers sound through your bones. In the case of headphones, sound enters your ear through your cheekbones, bypassing your eardrum. That’s why bone conduction headphones, such as Aftershokz, don’t sit inside your ears. Instead, they sit in front of your ears, allowing you to hear outside sounds while music plays.

With bone conduction headphones, you can hear music and environmental sounds, such as cars, dogs and pedestrians.

AfterShokz

4. Keep the volume down.

Simple, but effective. Not only does keeping the volume down protect you from accidents, it also reduces your risk of developing noise-induced hearing loss — a win-win situation.

5. Check wind speeds before you go.

The faster the wind blows, the harder it gets to hear music through earbuds. If your weather app says wind speeds are high, consider leaving your music behind. You’ll avoid the inevitable cycle of turning up the volume only for the wind to continually drown it out.

6. Clip on a Bluetooth speaker.

This is a great alternative to bone conduction headphones if you want to listen to music without anything in your ears. Get a small Bluetooth speaker and clip it onto whatever’s convenient. If you’re cycling, you may want to clip it to a backpack or handle. If you’re running, you can clip small speakers to hydration vests or your clothes.

7. If you’re a cyclist, invest in a Bluetooth helmet.

If you bike often, you should look into smart bike helmets, like this one from Coros. You should always wear a helmet regardless, but a Bluetooth-enabled helmet keeps you safe and allows you to jam out while staying aware of surrounding sounds.

A smart bike helmet could be a good investment if you cycle a lot.

Angela Lang/CNET

8. Pull all the way off the road if you need to adjust the volume.

If something goes wacky with your music, get completely out of harm’s way before adjusting. This may seem like common sense, but attempting to run or bike while adjusting volume, switching songs or adjusting your speaker/headphone setup can result in serious accidents.

9. Follow the rules of the road.

Rules for runners and bikers may vary by state, county or city, but in general, bikers must follow the same rules as vehicles and runners must follow the same rules as pedestrians. Brush up on your knowledge by visiting your area’s department of transportation website.

10. Stay vigilant.

Just because you’re following the rules, that doesn’t mean everyone else on the road is. It’s easy to get lost in your favorite tune, but don’t get too distracted, or you might run into trouble. Watch for pedestrians, other cyclists and runners, emergency vehicles and drivers who are speeding, making sudden lane changes or doing anything else that may result in an accident.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

How I Learned to Love Running Without Music

A couple years ago, a team of researchers from the University of Virginia and Harvard University decided to study how well people are able to entertain themselves-sans distractions like phones, magazines, or music. They thought it’d be pretty easy, given our big, active brains full of interesting memories and bits of information we’ve picked up along the way.

But actually, the researchers discovered that people hate being left alone with their own thoughts. In one study they included in their analysis, about a third just couldn’t do it and cheated by playing on their phones or listening to music during the study period. In another, a quarter of the female participants and two-thirds of the male participants chose to literally shock themselves with electricity in order to distract themselves from whatever was going on in their heads.

If that sounds crazy to you, picture this: You’re about to go for a run. You pop in your ear buds and pull out your phone only to realize that-dear god, no-it’s out of battery. Now ask yourself, if giving yourself an electric shock would somehow cause iTunes to fire back up, would you do it? Not so crazy now, right?

In my view, there seem to be two types of runners: The ones who happily hit the roads in silence, and the ones who would rather chew off their left arm than sacrifice their headphones. And honestly, I’ve always counted myself as a member of camp number two. In fact, I viewed the silent sort of runners as kind of weird. They always seemed so evangelical about it. “Just try it!” they’d urge. “It’s so peaceful!” Yeah, well maybe I don’t want peaceful on mile 11 of a long run. Maybe I want Eminem. (After all, studies show that music can help you run faster and feel stronger.)

But underlying my judgment was jealousy. Running in silence does seem peaceful, even meditative. I always felt like I was missing out, just grinding out the miles without tapping into the real zen that comes only when you turned off all distractions-pure running. So one fateful morning, when I’d somehow forgotten to charge my phone, I headed out without the dulcet tones of Marshall Mathers in my ears. And it was…okay.

It wasn’t exactly the life-changing experience I’d been looking for, to be honest. I didn’t love hearing my own breath while I ran. (Am I about to die?) But I did feel more connected to the world around me. I heard birds, the slapping of my sneakers against the pavement, the wind rushing by my ears, the voices of people as I passed by. (Some screaming the old “Run Forest, run!” or some other thing that’s sure to piss a runner off, but what can you do?) The miles passed just as quickly as they did when I listened to music. I ran at about the same speed as usual.

But something weird happened. Even though I had a fairly positive experience, the next time I considered running sans music, all those old fears came roaring back. What will I think about? What if I get bored? What if my run feels harder? I can’t do it. In went the headphones, up went the volume. What was going on?

Back to that University of Virginia study for a second. What is it about being alone with our thoughts that feels so repellent we’d rather shock ourselves than do it? The study authors had a theory. Humans are hard-wired to scan their environment, looking for threats. Without anything specific to focus on-a text from a friend, an Instagram feed-we feel uncomfortable and stressed.

Knowing there was a study-backed reason that I was instinctually against running in silence was comforting. And it gave me hope that I could learn to run bare-eared. I decided to start small. First, I exchanged the music for podcasts. Cheating, I know, but it felt like a step toward silence.

Next, I downloaded a meditation app called Headspace (free to sign up, then $13 per month; itunes.com and play.google.com), which has an on-the-go meditation series, including one specifically for running. The “teacher,” Andy, actually talks you through a run, showing you how to meditate on the move. After listening to it a couple times, I started incorporating mini-meditations into most of my runs, turning down the volume on my podcasts for a few minutes and focusing on the sensation of my feet hitting the ground, one after another. (The combo of meditation and exercise is actually a powerful mood booster.)

Then, one morning, I was halfway through a morning run, and I just took out my headphones. I was already in my groove, so I knew the move probably wouldn’t cause my legs to suddenly stop short. It was a beautiful day, sunny and warm enough for shorts but cool enough that I didn’t feel overheated. I was running around my favorite spot in Central Park. It was early enough that only other runners were out. I just wanted to enjoy my run, and for once the noise coming from my ear buds felt like it was interrupting my flow instead of helping it. For the next two miles, I didn’t need anything other than the even sound of my breathing, my shoes slapping the trail, the wind rushing by my ears. There it was-the zen I’d been looking for.

There are still days when all I want is to zone out while listening to a carefully curated running playlist. I like music, and it has some pretty powerful benefits, after all. But there is something special about silent runs. And if nothing else, it’s freeing to not have to plan my runs around how charged my phone is anymore.

  • By Mirel Ketchiff @mirelbee

Photo: Pexels

There are two main upsides to running: It’s a great and efficient form of exercise, and it’s also a way to get lost in nature and thought for 45 minutes to an hour (or however long your run is) with few to no distractions.

Sure, a pre-made playlist can pump you up for your run or help you keep pace. But if you want to truly free your mind, suggests Martin Fritz Huber in Outside Online, try running without music.

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Huber’s argument is that running outside is one of the few times people, particularly city dwellers, can immerse themselves in the natural world, without screens, text messages or notifications clouding your vision.

When you preselect a soundtrack for your run, you are trying to tacitly control your experience. And in many cases, that is precisely the point: pump-me-up music to get you through those painful final miles, for instance. But, as that example illustrates, so much of our music comes loaded with preconceived mental associations; we already know how a certain song is going to make us feel. One of the great things about running is that it can provide a chance to get away from all that, if only for an hour or so.

He calls it a “microadventure” for your brain: while you might be able to run your 3-mile loop blindfolded, you never know where your mind might wander.

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It’s also a way to reclaim your run as a time strictly for yourself and your mental and physical well-being. Rather than listening to podcasts to try to learn something during your run, or putting on music to speed it along, you’re immersing yourself in the run for the run’s sake. Taking in the sights along your route more fully, listening to what’s going on around you, letting your brain take a break for a little while.

“I don’t think we always need to be ticking off the boxes of some invisible checklist of life improvement—especially when engaged in an activity that is fruitful in and of itself,” he writes. I’ll run to that.

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Reasons Why We Should Run Without Music

The birds sing a song into the distance. The crickets chirp as if they were playing violins. The heartbeat is a steady drum. The body is in a dance, mind getting lost in the rhythm. Everything seems so much quieter, and feelings that much louder. This is what it’s like to run without music. And there are actually many reasons why we shouldn’t run with any music more often.

As runners, we know that there is research out there that says music is a huge motivational force and can really help improve performance. But running without music can also make us better and faster runners. That’s because, without music as a distraction and a morale boost, we are left having to feel the run. We must feel our legs getting tired. Runners then have to find another way to block out any negative thoughts about us calling it quits or slowing down.

It’s Safer To Be Able To Hear

The most important reasons runners should leave their headphones at home is for safety. This is true for beginners and seasoned runners alike. It doesn’t matter how many times the runner travels down the same roads or parks. Predators lurk unfortunately anywhere included our go-to routes. It’s extremely important that runners be alert and pay attention to their surroundings.

Photo by Noah Silliman on Unsplash.

Some opt to run listening to music with only one earbud to be able to hear noise around them. But this might mean the runner misses the crunching of leaves or an animal that is nearby. Save music for when running on the treadmill for safety.

No Music Means Paying Attention To The Body

Not only must we have to listen to our bodies in this way, but also when it comes to specific aspects of the run. This includes when looking to increase cadence or the number of steps the feet takes per minute. The idea is that the faster the cadence, the faster the runner’s speed is. Studies suggest that faster cadence leads to better form and fewer injuries. Running without music allows the runner to hear if their feet as shuffling as it hits the pavement. Shuffling means the legs aren’t lifting, which can be a sign of a slow cadence. Pay attention and kick those feet up.

Another reason why it’s not a good idea to run with music, specifically for beginners, is to be able to master breathing. Focus on deep diaphragm breaths rather than belting out the lyrics to a good song.

It Makes Runners Have A Stronger Mind

Unplugging can do wonders for the mind. We are constantly on our smartphones, watching TV and on our computers for work. During a run is the one time a day we can just let our minds go and not be tapped into technology.

Photo by juan pablo rodriguez on Unsplash.

Running without music also means the runners are working on having a stronger mind. That’s because they have to focus on the run and constantly tell themselves not to quit or to power through a sprint—without having a soundtrack to rely on. Running without music makes the runner stronger since they must face the obstacles head on like tired legs or rolling hills.

No Music Prepares Runners For Race Day

Some races prohibit headphones at their events. This is for the safety of runners so that they can hear instructors from volunteers. This is especially the case for races where roads aren’t closed off. For tighter trail races, running with music means not hearing a runner coming up from behind to pass. This is why it’s a great idea to practice running without music. No one wants to show up on race day and be told they can’t bring their music. Then panic sets in on how they are going to run 13.1 miles without Britney Spears telling them they better work.

Tips To Running Without Music

For those who only run listening to music, putting down their phones or music players can be tough at first. Just remember that it is making you a more resilient runner. A great way to start running without music is to use a shorter run as a practice round. See if you can run a mile or three without any jams. It’s a good idea to choose a scenic route so that the mind is preoccupied looking at the scenery or hear the sounds nearby like crashing waves if near a beach.

Photo by Des Tan on Unsplash.

For longer runs, start without music and see how long the runner can go without pressing play. If needed, turn on a favorite playlist for the middle of the run and finish strong without it.

When on the treadmill, try reading a book or people watch at the gym. Another good way to tackle runs with no music indoors is doing intervals on the treadmill. Jog for a little, sprint for a little and keep going for the duration of the run. The mind will be busy adjusting the treadmill and preparing for the next segment.

Remember that running without music isn’t a punishment, but rather a great way to be more present in the run. Many find it to be freeing and prefer not to run with music at all.

How to run without music?

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