To Listen or Not to Listen, That is the Question

I'm currently nine months pregnant with my second baby, but when "One Foot" by WALK THE MOON comes on, I can't help but dream of track work outs and hitting PRs (once this baby is safely outside the womb). Music has the power to inspire us to move our feet faster, push a mile farther, and lighten the mental load of knowing exactly how many miles you have left on your long run. But, it also has its drawbacks, so its use is one that I personally feel conflicted over when hitting the trails or the sidewalk. 

According to an article published in Runners World magazine in July of 2018 that discusses the drawbacks and advantages of listening to music on the run, "music can actually help runners with pacing while training. In a recent study conducted by PLOS One, runners performed better when the beat of the music matched their cadence than when they ran without music." So, if you're looking to crush a PR, music may be a great ally in helping you get there. And, as we all have experienced (even super pregnant me), music has the ability to pump you up, get you excited, and get you in the mood to dart out the door for your run. 

But in the wake of recent news stories of women being assaulted or simply going missing while running, I can't help but feel that I, personally, need to be especially careful with my use of music as a distraction during a run. Listening to music can easily block out the sounds around you, making you less likely to hear cars nearby or other dangers. Technology has come a long way in this arena, and there are now headphones on the market, such as AfterShockz, that allow your ears to remain free, even while playing music or podcasts. But the truth is that nothing is as safe as running without background distractions. 

Purists of the sport may also pooh-pooh the use of music while running for the simple fact that it takes away from a runner's peace and quiet while hitting the pavement. As a mom, I'm caught in the middle. When I've been woken up far too many times for a night, music can inspire me to actually head out the door the next morning to get a run in. And I'm always so grateful that I did. But also, the quiet is a reason that I love to run. It's time for me to test the limits of what I can do, mentally and physically. It's time for me to pray, to observe the world around me, and to breathe deeply in the glory of God. Some days, music actually helps with that. But on others, it takes me farther away from the world I inhabit. 

No matter your stance on music while running, we can all agree that music is a great good in the world. So, blast your favorite song today, in the car, on the run, in the kitchen, or in the shower. Sing loud and glory in the gift of music to the world! 

If you're interested in reading the full Runners World article on the issue of listening to music while running, you can find it here:

Looking for your next inspirational running song? They've got that covered, too!

You can also check out Johnna’s Catholic running playlist and Lindsay’s suggestions for audiobooks while running!

Colleen Beatty is a wife and mama, as well as a lifelong runner and Catholic She grew up in the hills of Southwestern Wisconsin, just across the road from her beloved red brick Catholic church, and wore out her running shoes on gravel roads before moving south to attend the University of Dallas. Under the hot Texan sun, she ran four years of track and field, as well as cross country, and she received her bachelor of English there in 2015. She now lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota, teaches fitness classes, and coaches track and cross country, all while chasing after her very active little boy.

RunningJohnna WilfordComment