Feel the Beat?

Could YOU run the Ravenel without your tunes? When Beyonce abruptly cuts off, you might find a few other senses cut on and get you over that bridge...

Something terrible happened to me while I was running the Ravenel Bridge last night. About halfway through my run… my iPod died. I don’t know about you, but I pretty much rely on my running playlists to get me through my runs—especially those steep hills on the Ravenel. So when Beyonce cut off mid-chorus, I knew I was in trouble.


The first thought that entered my mind was maybe I should stop and walk the rest of the way. But then I knew I was being a wimp. Millions of people ran long distances before the iPod was ever invented. So I kept running, even though it felt odd. I always run with music, so it took a while to get accustomed to the silence. Then I realized it wasn’t really silent. I could hear my breathing. Do I always huff and puff that bad? I could also hear my footfalls and an odd squeaking noise. A squeaking noise that didn’t match my stride. What is that squeaking noise? Oh, it’s another runner coming up behind me and passing me on my left. Mind. Blown.


Those 2.5 miles of running unplugged really showed me the other side of the long-standing debate on running with music. It’s a hot topic in the running world and I’ve always been very pro-music. After all, I make some damn good playlists. I fill my iPod with upbeat songs with motivational lyrics and it puts me in the mindset to push myself when what I really want to do is be lazy. They also keep me from getting bored. In the spirit of full disclosure, here are a few of my current favorite running songs (don’t judge me): “Hard” by Rihanna, “’Till I Collapse” by Eminem, “Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson, “Let’s Go” by Travis Barker and Busta Rhymes and, oh yeah, “Run the World” by Beyonce.


Without the music I did feel less motivated, but I also registered more environmental factors that I usually, literally, tune out—my breathing, consistency of my stride and the activity of others around me. It’s this reason that many runners prefer running with no music and that some races even ban the use of headphones. That always seemed harsh to me before.


Overall, I feel my silent run was a good experiment, but I don’t think I’m ready to completely switch sides yet. Maybe I’ll try a few shorter runs with no music—part of me is a little worried I might become desensitized to it. But come this weekend, I think I’ll make sure my iPod is fully charged and create a new playlist for my long run.


Where do you stand on the running with music debate? Got any favorite run songs I should add to my playlist?