Music or Not?


There’s always a bit of controversy about running with headphones. Over be years, I never really gave much of a thought to it, however a recent incident caused me to rethink my decision. Here’s my take on running with headphones.

A few months ago, I was running on a local trail. It was one of the last great weekend mornings before the winter snows arrive, but there were plenty of people out and about. I never gave it a second thought as I put on the headphones and settled into an easy 6-mile run.

I had no sense that things were amiss. I didn’t feel anyone stalking me. I didn’t hear anything. In short, nothing seemed out of place.

Suddenly, a tall man was next to me. As I ran, he put his arm around me. I jumped. I turned and looked. I could see his lips moving but heard absolutely nothing with my phones on.

It was my friend Micah from the Harriers running club. We’ve been pretty friendly over the years and hung out a few times. He wasn’t trying to scare me. He didn’t grab me. And he has no interest in me – he bats for the other team.

But if Micah could get so close without me realizing, was I leaving myself open to attack?

Safety vs Boredom
Like nearly everyone I know, I wear headphones to break up the boredom of long runs. I do fine without tunes for 3-4 miles, but longer runs can be a real chore.

Music motivates me. Carries me through. Gives me something else to think about other than all of the miles.

Wake-Up Call
That morning on the Lake County trail was a wake-up call for me. I said a prayer of thanks that it was Micah, and not someone else. He doesn’t realize how much he scarred me, although he’ll probably read this at some point (hi, Micah!).

Finding Zen
I’ve recently started going for longer runs without headphones. In the process, I’ve realized there is a beauty in the stillness. Listening to the rhythm of my own breath, rather than the music. Hearing the birds call in the trees above my head. There’s a peacefulness out there on the trail that I hadn’t realized existed because I was into my music.

In the future, I’ll be doing more runs without music.

How about you? Do you listen to music while running? Do you unsafe?

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