Sunday, December 13, 2009

Running with Headphones - yay or nay?

So, I started running this year. Further than ever before (prior to this year, I'd done a 10k.) I liberally used my Ipod to keep me motivated, particularly on the early-morning treadmill runs (and even that didn't work so well).

As I got into my half-marathon training, reading the book "The Complete Book of Running for Women", I noticed the suggestion that you should *never* run with headphones, unless you are on the treadmill. For safety reasons - you can't hear traffic, you can't hear people. Now, if I were running at my parents' house in the middle of nowhere with woods and narrow roads, I'd probably leave the headphones at home (and people have dogs. That aren't tied up.)

But I live in Santa Barbara. I run on surface streets and bike paths. I have to cross at exactly one traffic light - and that's running >10 miles. Okay, it's out-and-back, so it's actually two - the same light twice. I try to not have my music too loud so that I can hear what's going on around me.

As my training runs got longer, I experimented with running without the Ipod. I was somewhat successful. The half marathon "highly discourages" headphones. I found that eventually I was able to get up to 8 miles with no music, just the scenery and my own thoughts. At that point, I start getting tired and need more motivation.

It depends on the day though. On actual race day, I couldn't hit my "zone". Too many people, too much noise. Popped the headphones in at mile 5.

At the marathon (I ran the last 8.3 miles of a relay), I waited a few miles to pop them in. At the finish, one of the helpers got my chip, and started yelling at me what to do next. I realized that while my Ipod was on low and I could hear everything, he didn't realize that (oops, sorry dude). He seemed pretty ticked.

So why the hating? I guess I can see the safety point. But I get at least a little frustrated with "real" runners dissing "newbies" or "non-real runners". I consider myself a runner. I've run a half. I have a long run of about 8 miles or 10, and try to run 3x a week total. But I'm not fast. I will probably never be fast. I've heard and read comments about the slow people. Who's to say that a race is only for the sub-8:00, sub-7:00, sub-6:00/mile set? I'm perfectly happy to plug along in my 9:00/mile (for under 4 miles) or 10:30/mile (half marathon) pace.

I can see how it would a little frustrating on a race. But folks? I'm not your competition. You're running a 7:00 mile, you aren't going to be seeing me. Except maybe in the bathroom line at the start. I bring my own water. I bring my own Gu. And I bring my own motivation. And I guess that's part of the thing. If you run a 7:00 - figure your finishing time...and add 50%. That's how much longer it takes me to finish a race than you think you'd need a little pick-me-up if you were running 2 hrs and 17 minutes for half marathon instead of 1.5 hours?

I worry a bit about the running community alienating the rest of us. We do keep the sport alive in many ways. When I read the marathon rule "if you are competing for prizes, you cannot use Ipods", I thought "yeah, whatever, no prizes at a 10:00/mile, that's for sure."

Any runners out there? What do you think?


Sherri L said...

pro ipod! running can be sooo boring without it. Do what makes you happy!

Joanne said...

I love running with my iPod. Although my coaches have always yelled at me about it. They claim that listening to music can alter your stride, which I agree is possible but not if you've always run with music. During my marathon, I brought the iPod and turned it on and off as I found myself getting less and more motivated. Sometimes you need a really awesome song to give you that extra push. And I think that is more than okay.