Yup, it’s true. And there’s proof, but I’ll get to that. First let me say that over the past year or so, I’ve noticed that I’m more and more likely to run without my music. In fact, on Saturday I decided for a 9 mile loop around White Rock Lake. I parked my car, got my shoes tied, put on my headphones and started off. But then I turned right around and threw the headphones back in the car. It just seemed too distracting. Yes, my music was too distracting.
Back a few years ago, I would’ve NEVER run without my tunage. In fact, whenever I see a race that doesn’t allow headphones, I’m all like, “Yeah right, try and stop me!” I understand it’s a safety thing for the race, but the way I figured it, I’ve done all my training runs with music and was able to avoid getting hit by another runner or a car or whatever. Also, I’d done all my training runs with music and was going to race with music.
That distraction is also why I made my first marathon the Disney one. I wanted my mind to not be on my pain. And I knew that Disney being Disney that they would go all out…and they do! Besides the sights running through the different theme parks, they also have characters, props, bands, cheerleaders, comedians, volunteer fans, giant puppets, videos, fireworks, tons of other runners, funny signs, celebrities, bright colors, shiny things, gospel choirs, robots, and tons and tons of fans cheering for you along the way. Buuuut, when I did the marathon for the 3rd time this past January, after a while I ended up ripping the headphones out of my ears as the music on top of all the other stuff going on was really distracting me. My head was all over the place.
So all that said, what am I getting at? Well I just read an article that a study was done on runners in a ten mile race. They found that the beginners and the slower runners tended to be distracted more easily. They were more inclined to listen to music, look at the sights they were passing, etc. etc. etc. The more seasoned and the faster runners all tended to be focused on their bodies and how they felt. They were constantly thinking about their form, breathing, pace, posture, stride, foot strike, etc. etc. etc.
And I’ve noticed that the more I run, the more I am thinking about all that stuff too. I’m constantly monitoring my body during a run. And like I said, I’m less distracted by my surroundings. In fact, on my run around the lake, about 5 miles in I realized that I hadn’t even glanced at the beautiful views of the water. I hadn’t been looking at the mansions overlooking the lake. I hadn’t been doing anything but think about how my body was feeling with each step and adjusting to that.
Not to say that I’m perfect. I still like reading the funny signs during a race. I still sometimes listen to my tunes…which can help pump you up when you start to bonk. I still like to take in the surroundings – especially during a destination run, just not as much as before. I can do the real sightseeing afterward.
It not only goes for running – have you ever seen people at the gym with their phones. It drives me nuts. I always leave my phone in the locker. Can’t people take an hour without texting, facebooking, tweeting? Recently I saw my friend at the gym on the elliptical…she was texting or whatever, NONSTOP. I didn’t even say “Hi” cause I was so put off. She was NOT getting a good workout. She didn’t even notice that I was right in front of her. Sheesh. Her pace was so slow and uneven because she was so focused on her phone. I see it all the time, people do a set, then text for 10 minutes, then do another set, then text, repeat and repeat. That’s not a very effective workout.
Whatever happened to the zen of exercise? That’s another reason to run without an electronic tether. Just get out there and use your workout as a zone out therapy. Learn to focus your mind, you’ll be better off for it. I know a lot of people carry their phones for safety reasons when they run, and I may start doing that too soon, but now I don’t. That’s why I don’t have photos from every run/workout I do. That’s just one more distraction from your workout if you have to stop in the middle of it to take an Instagram. Sure, there are times when I see unique stuff and would like to record it, but sometimes it’s just as good to have your own personal memories. It is your workout afterall. Like on the lake this weekend I saw a pack of unicyclers riding around. Yup, I did, but you’re going to have to take my word for it.
And think about this, elite runners never run with them. Sure, they’ll get pumped up before a race by jamming out, but during the race they have to focus. In fact, I saw a elite buddy of mine on the lake this weekend too. He just qualified for the Olympic trials in the marathon. And he was cruising along pretty fast with a small group of dudes, and none of them had headphones on. As we slapped hands when he passed, it did also occur to me that they’d be running for a lot less time than I would that day – even if they were running a further distance.
Maybe if I keep running without distractions and focused on my form, then I’ll be able to finish faster too. Anyway, that’s my two cents today. If I can find that article about the study, I’ll post a link for it later.