Debate: Running With or Without Music

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It’s a heated debate, there’s no denying it. Runners are passionate creatures, and most have firm opinions on everything from the best flavor of gel to what time of day you should run. And it is no different when it comes to how runners feel about music players. When we posted the Running Playlist about a month ago, we realized that we opened a can of worms, as we saw the arguments pile up for and against music while running.


It all boils down to this: whichever way you answer, there are valid reasons on both sides. Whether you feel that music is as necessary to your run as the shoes on your feet, or that running with music is counter-intuitive and counter-productive, take a deep breath, clear your mind, and read a few points from each viewpoint.



  1. It helps me keep the pace. When my stride aligns with the beat of the song I’m listening to, I’m convinced that I gain an extra boost of power.
  2. It passes the time more quickly. I start seeing my run in terms of how many songs I can run through. It breaks the run up into smaller, easier bits and pieces.
  3. It motivates me. Listening to music with positive lyrics can be an encouraging push when the going gets tough.
  4. It is entertaining. Whether it is my favorite artist that provides me with fun songs to jam to or a new captivating podcast that I download for my run, sometimes what I have to listen to is motivation enough to get me out the door.
  5. I am distracted. Focusing on motivating songs and encouraging lyrics distracts me from the challenging run ahead and averts my thoughts from the pain and discomfort I may experience.

No Music


  1. Running should be a natural experience. iPods and music devices are a recent invention and runners ran without them for centuries before me. This is the way it should be.
  2. I can hear potential danger. I can hear as each car approaches, I can hear what other people are saying around me, and I can listen for other audible warnings.
  3. I am not distracted. I can put my full focus on running well and improving my form. Each step is more intentional, and it helps me avoid injury.
  4. I can talk to others. This makes the time pass more quickly and it makes running a social experience.
  5. I can brainstorm ideas and be quiet with my thoughts. Valuable alone time can help me process what is going on in my life and think of new ideas or perspectives along the way.

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