Listen To The Music?

I really don't understand why so many runners run with headphones. Am I missing something? I have never had the desire to have piped in music dominating my sense of hearing while out running. For me, I think it is too predictable versus all the mystery that I encounter through my ears when out running. Not only do I get to feel the crunch of the fallen leaves under my feet, but I get to hear them also. Not only do I get to see children playing on a playground when I run by, but I get to hear their joy as they play. Sometimes, at running events, I will comment to someone coming up from behind and as they overtake me I will mention, "Ah, thought I heard the sound of synthetic rubber padding up from behind". It usually gets a chuckle from the runner as they know their shoes have an unmistakable sound when they strike the pavement.

Maybe I'm just a sensory junkie. Maybe that's why I want to hear and feel what's going on around me. In my former life as one who would engage in too much wine and herbs, I was always looking to feel better whether that meant heightening or hiding from my feelings. Today, my high comes through running as it does for a lot of runners. I think I take it to a higher degree than some by barefoot running which gives me extra sensory enjoyment. But, I digress to the sense of touch. Back to why I don't run with music.

The most logical reason for me not to run with music is that I use my sense of hearing to confirm my sense of sight. Sight by itself can often delude as well as hearing alone. They both come in real handy when running in traffic! Or, how about just casual hearing? Just as I cannot always predict the sensory interactions of a run, so too I can't predict what I might hear on a run that otherwise I would not hear. For instance, I would not be able to hear all the remarks, both negative and positive, regarding barefoot running. I truly enjoy all kinds of remarks, no matter what their context. I'm just happy to know people are engaged about the subject and are possibly thinking about or questioning my actions.

And what about those fellow runners who are headphone-challenged (or enhanced, depending on your viewpoint) I pass while on a run? There really is not much time for conversation when passing another runner, but I still like to say hello and give a wave of the hand, at least. I do both because a lot of times you can or cannot see the iPOD earpieces hidden in their respective ears. I figure then, at least, they may look my way and see that I have acknowledged them as a running citizen.

What do they gain from their music-induced run? Is it merely background sounds much like what I experience when out running music-less? To be truthful, I am not always conscious of the sounds around me. Sometimes, I am in my head, thinking or planning. However, I'd say that I am in the moment and enjoying the feel, the sights, the sounds of the run to a lot higher degree than when I ran with shoes. Seems barefoot running heightens the moment for me to where I want to enjoy each step with all my senses. Music, for me, has too many memories tied to it to engage myself with present thought. For instance, every time I hear "Listen to the Music" by the Doobie Brothers I go back to a particular afternoon in high school, skipping class, and getting totally blitzed while driving country roads. Not a place I really want to go to in my mind when out on my run. Others might say, start listening to some newer music that does not have any memories attached. Well, I don't think so. I am pretty much content with my lack of musical groove while I run. Sometimes, I will get a song stuck in my head when I go for a run. That seems to be okay because it doesn't usually stay there long. There is too much going on around me and it usually distracts me away from the song-absorption.

Bottom line: I will probably never understand why runners run with music, blocking out everything else that they hear. I won't know because I will probably never try it. I don't harshly judge runners for choosing to captivate their hearing by their iPODS and such. I just don't think it is for me. I like what I'm hearing when I'm out barefoot running, and I guess that's the main thing.

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