Running with music. Good and Bad.

Ryan from wrote an article explaining why he doesn’t like running with music. It’s an interesting read and his reasons are valid. Even if I don’t agree with them personally, I can understand his thinking.

The basic issues he has with running with music using his iPod are:

  1. Hassle of carrying an iPod
  2. Headphones not staying put.
  3. Finding the right music.
  4. Running to the tempo of the music.

As I said, all valid points. Let’s look at them one by one.

First, the hassle of carrying an iPod. He was using the older, heavier iPod Video, so I can see how that would’ve been annoying. Ryan also mentions songs tended to skip sometimes, which suggests the mechanical drive was moving, which is not a good thing. The new iPod shuffle or iPod nano would solve both issues as they’re small and lightweight, and use flash drives that have no moving pieces. I actually run with my iPhone, which also has a flash drive, and have never felt it was too heavy or bulky. And has never skipped a beat.

Second, the headphones not staying put. This is one I struggled with myself for a while when I was using the standard white ones that come with the iPhone. I also had the issue of them getting soaked in sweat. I did some research and found several options. Most people recommended a Sennheiser PMX 680, but it’s almost US$50, so I looked at the Sony Mdr-As20J and the Philips SHQ1000/28. I eventually bought the Phillips and have been very happy with it. The ear buds stay in their place and they don’t get wet. And it was less than US$20.

Third, finding the right music. Well, I obviously like doing this (or I wouldn’t have JoggerTunes!), but I can understand how if you don’t find it fun it would feel like a chore. The good thing is that there are a few places online where you can see cool playlists that others have done to save you the trouble of having to think.

Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, is that Ryan felt listening to music made him run to the rhythm of the song. Here’s what he says:

One of the biggest issues I had was my background in marching band. I would constantly find myself running with the beat of the music. So if it was a fast song I would pick up my pace, even if I wasn’t fit enough to keep up with it. And then if the music would slow down, so would I.

This also happens to me and I would guess most people. You naturally get into the rhythm and it’s sometimes harder or slower than you should be going. However, I see this as a good thing. I create playlists with faster music when I want to run faster and slower when I want to run slower. Right now I’m experimenting with a playlists that actually starts slow for a warm up, then picks up gradually until it gets really fast, then slows down for a cool down. I’ll post it as soon as I’m ready, I’m just testing it out at the moment.

An inspirational story

I like reading other runners’ stories. I find them inspirational.

This one is about Betty Soller, a 48 year old woman who ran a marathon to raise funds for the American Stroke Association as part of her quest to quit smoking.

She has an interesting view to running with music:

Betty Soller runs alone, but she’s never lonely. The 48-year-old woman runs with head phones, but most of the time the music is background noise. Sometimes during her marathon training sessions, she’ll break out an air-drum solo. That’s why she wears sun glasses and a hat.

I have to admit the same happens to me sometimes. I start really focused on the music but after a while I realise I haven’t really been paying attention and I’m not sure which songs I just heard. The beat keeps me pumped, but I loose track of the actual songs.

I guess that’s part of why I haven’t been posting playlists as often as I want to. I don’t want to just post whatever I ran to if I don’t think it’s good enough to share. I’ll expand on that in another post.

Meanwhile, I recommend you read Betty Soller’s story. After she ran her first marathon she got sort of obsessed (in a good way) and has run several more marathons since. As she explains:

I’m hooked. I’m crazy, but it’s a great stress reliever. I go outside and my mind is so clear. You take it all in and just think about the run.