Friday, March 30, 2012

Running "Naked": Leave the Tunes at Home

I think that sometimes we get so caught up in reaching our racing goals, we forget how much we just love to run :)

On Sunday, I went for a glorious 7 mile run. It was seriously one of the most enjoyable runs I've had in a long time. Don't get me wrong- I always enjoy running (except maybe during track workouts...) but this one was special. Why? Because I left my Garmin and iPod at home.

Of course I didn't do this by choice- I realized both were dead right before I left. In fact, I almost skipped this run altogether. I woke up with a head cold on Sunday, and then I had a headache from doing a lot of cleaning with bleach products. But then I looked at the weather forecast for Monday, and seeing as it would be 20 degrees cooler with 25 mph winds, I decided I should just suck it up and go.

I started out with a 4 mile loop, and I can't even describe to you how good I felt. It's been so long since I last ran without music, I forgot what my footstrikes and breathing sounded like. And at the risk of sounding super cheesy, it was a beautiful day outside- 60 degrees, a light breeze, birds chirping- the whole shebang. When I got home, the door was locked- which meant Ben had gone to play with our niece and nephew at the park. So I ran another mile to there and played with them for a little while too. Then I finished with 2 more miles, ending at Carrie and CJ's house, where we cooled down with a game of baseball.

Total: 7 miles
Time: No clue, easy by feel :)

I just received the latest issue of Runner's World in the mail on Wednesday, and one of the articles inside, called "Tech Time-Out," made a lot of good points about running "naked" (meaning sans-techonology- get your mind out of the gutter).

Some of my favorite points (from Runner's World):

1. Checking your pace, distance, and heart rate every few minutes means you're focusing more on numbers than on your body's cues.

2. "As much as numbers sometimes motivate us, they sometimes limit us," she says. "We all have this number in our head--we think we can't perform well unless we're at that exact spot, and we limit ourselves to that number." But by blinding yourself to the various digits, you might push past your own barriers and discover another level of running.

3. Good tunes can get us through a long, boring run, or drown out the chitchat of the people power-waling on the treadmills next to you. But music can also block sensory feedback your body is trying to give you, and be a distraction. For example, when you run with earbuds, you're missing out on the sound of your breathing and your footstrikes--important clues that give you an idea of how hard your working, says Underhill.

4. Listening to music all the time, every time, means it loses its value too. "You can become desensitized to its motivating effects," says Ben Greenfield, an exercise physiologist, certified coach, and author of Run With No Pain.

It's no secret that I've become quite dependent on my running gadgets. On easy days, I'll sometimes leave my Garmin at home- but I ALWAYS have my iPod with me. But I think I'll start saving the tunes for harder runs, like speed workouts and long runs. I've gotten so used to basing my "easy pace" on the numbers my Garmin shows me, rather than the sound of my breathing and my footstrikes- both of which are drowned out by my iPod.

I think I could definitely benefit from running "naked" a couple times a week. My hope is that it will improve the quality of my training runs, and as a result, allow me to run faster and perform better in my upcoming races.

Do you always run with either your watch or an iPod?

How often do you run "naked?"

Any big plans for the weekend- racing or otherwise?


  1. I make sure that my easy runs each week (I have 1-2 of them) are without the tech stuff. They are slow and wonderful and absolutely refreshing. I don't know how I lived without them before!

    1. That's exactly how I felt about my easy runs this week! I didn't know what I had been missing :)