This question comes up once in a while on Facebook or Twitter:

What is on your running playlist?

People join in with their choices, from Hip Hop to Heavy Metal, Electronica to Alternative, and yes, the Rocky theme. In addition, someone inevitably chimes in with:

DONT RUN WITH MUSIC!!!!!! You miss too much around you” or

You’re less of a runner if you listen to music while running.”

I laugh at the prospect that listening to music during runs makes someone less of a runner. If I wear Under Armour or gloves in the winter, am I less of a runner? Heck, if I wear running sneakers, am I relying on the cushioning too much? If I take “Gu” during a race, am I cheating?  Does a Garmin give someone an unfair advantage?

I respect those who don’t use music while running, but to insinuate that one is not a true runner if they use music is silly.  I understand that on social media platforms, this will usually be mentioned (just like “running is bad for your knees” usually gets mentioned. This was recently discussed in a Runner’s World piece).

Personally, I only run once per week to music.  Yes, sometimes the quiet is better. Sometimes the sounds of nature are a good soundtrack to our runs; however, if the mood is right, the combination of running with music can be very rewarding.

Some say there is the possibility of becoming “over-reliant” on using MP3 players, iPods, etc. Use of such devices is even banned from some races, despite the fact that many of these events boast of the number of live acts or bands along the race course. These same races have “pump up” music at the start and finish areas. Isn’t the most popular ‘brand’ of race “Rock n Roll?”

Others worry about safety (not hearing traffic, other runners or potential predators).  These are legitimate concerns, but, no, listening to music while running does not make us less pure as runners. 

At the end of the day, it’s about the run.  So, let’s lighten up and enjoy it (and enjoy the music if you choose to use it!)

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