There is nothing as liberating as “running naked”… as in running without your watch or music. While it is a challenge to disconnect and get naked for a run, there are numerous benefits that will allow you to become more attuned to your body, potentially faster, more race day ready, and discover new levels of running enjoyment.
Running Without a Watch
It can feel as if we are always on the clock, and going for run is no different. As you glance down to check you pace, total mileage, total run time, etc. it may be introducing too much stress and taking the freedom out of your running. Running without a watch a few times a month will be a strong indicator if it’s actually helping your run, or taking the enjoyment of distance running away.
Learning True Limits and Finding New Ones
By breaking free of your watch, so long as you have a general sense of where and how long you are running, can give you a true sense of your limits as it pertains to the pace and distance you are actually capable of running. As we continually use a watch to measure our speed, we get into a mindset where the watch rules the run, instead of your own body and improvements you have made dictating the terms of your running.
Countless times runners have looked down at their watch to see one of two scenarios; the first is that they are going faster than expected so they immediately slow down, and the second is that they are going slower than expected and push their body into an uncomfortable zone. It is perfectly acceptable to keep running fast if you feel “fast” and to listen to your body if you are off pace. Doing so allows you to push new boundaries or discover that you need some rest.
In this regard, a watch can be an enabler that keeps you locked in a pace when, in actuality, you are faster than you know. Conversely, it can push you towards injury if your body is yelling for a break, but the watch demands a faster pace from you.
Running Without Music
Pumping up the jams while running can distract from “thinking” about running and getting into a nice running flow, but it can also be a crutch that distorts your true mental fortitude and enjoyment of running. This is not to say that you should never run with music but consider the impacts. You may find that running without music will shorten your run as you are not as distracted and more focused to how far you are running. However, the more you run without music, the easier it will become.
Pace Breaking and Losing Running Flow
When running with music, many runners are constantly fiddling with their MP3 players, subconsciously adjusting their pace as a particular song may not “keep them pumped” while they run, or even stopping to adjust their headphones or MP3 holder. Additionally, if the battery runs out during the run, you are now out of the pattern music put you into. All of these things are considered “pace breakers” in that they affect the flow of your run. Running even or negative splits per mile should be the goal of most runs. When you are constantly fluctuating, it affects your overall run in a negative manner.
Safety and Natural Music
From a safety perspective, music decreases your awareness of surroundings and puts you at increased risk near traffic, animals, and the most vicious predatory of all…. another human being. It also takes away the natural music that is around you. This is especially true when trail running as the sound of crunching leaves or the wind between the trees is like nothing on earth. The bleak desert also has a unique sound that you may miss. From your own rhythmic breathing, to city noise, everything has a unique and beautiful sound that can’t be heard over the tunes. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to hear the music that is around you.
Weaker Competitive Running and Injury Potential
For competitive runners, you are not allowed to race with music so training with music all of the time, especially during track intervals, will greatly reduce the mental fortitude needed at race time and affect your ability to intimately know the pace you are running. In this regard, it is better to struggle a bit and take away the music crutch so that during a tough mile or lap, you are prepared for the sound of the race and able to struggle through without “theme music”.
You may be tempted to blast the music even louder to help “push through” a tough part of the run, but you may be pushing yourself towards an injury! Be cautious of your level of effort and know when your body is at its limits. Just like wearing a watch where the stated pace is dictating how fast you should go, don’t let music distort how long or fast your body is actually prepared to run.