Running with Music – do you? (+ my sub-50 10K playlist)

This past weekend, I ran two fun “local-ish” races – the Shark Tooth 10K and the Iron Girl Clearwater Half. I ran the 10K without a watch, but with music, and for the half, well, I changed it up and did it with a watch, but without music.

Running with pals? No music necessary.
Running with pals? No music necessary.

When I first began running, I felt like I NEEDED music – the cadence, the beat, the energy – it seemed NECESSARY for me to get my blood pumping and my legs moving. However, as time went on, I realized that for me, it was something that I could take or leave, depending on my mood or the type of workout I was doing. Sure, the idea of running on the treadmill with nothing to listen to me still does not hold any appeal, but now that we live in FL and I perform 98 percent of my running workouts outdoors, there’s just something about hearing nature and things around you on a run.

Likewise, I carry this philosophy into my races. The last few 5Ks I’ve run with music, but my 50K without. It’s kind of a toss up – looking back, I’ve never run a marathon completely without music (I often turn it on about 1/3 of the way through) but there’s not been any recent instances that I really felt like I made the wrong choice.

Now, I hadn’t really thought about it much lately, but when my friend Jen and I were driving down to Clearwater this weekend, she mentioned that she was sure to pack her headphones because, “silence is the enemy.” Now, that’s definitely an opinion I’ve heard before, and I can respect that. Heck, I remember that it felt like sheer agony during my first marathon when, at Mile 14, my sony music player crapped out and I had to face a windy bridge (oh, and 12 more miles!!) without any music pumping into my ears. However, it turned out okay, as the race featured a ton of DJs and bands along the way, and without music, I could hear people cheering me on!

I think it was then that I realized that there is no real answer as to which option is “better” – I mean, some races “strong discourage” the use of headphones, but unless you are blasting your tunes (which you shouldn’t do anyway) or planning on winning (rules often prohibit prize purse winners from using music devices, etc) I think that if you can do it safely, you should do whatever YOU are most comfortable with.

So, if you DO listen to music…

I’m curious! If you listen to music on your run, what do you listen to? Not necessarily what artists, genre, but, is it a specially designed playlist? Streaming Pandora? I know, in my case, I have a few playlists on iTunes, one named “Base Playlist” of some of the songs I most like to hear on my runs, then I pull from there to create different, customized playlists for specific training runs or races – and sometimes, I just go off theme and pick from whatever else is in my playlist (I have pretty eclectic/random taste) and go with it.

For the Shark Tooth 10K, I knew I’d be going watchless, but also had a ballpark goal of sub-50 minutes, so I pulled together a playlist that would end at 50 minutes – that way, Id’ be forced to NOT skip any songs, and, on random, I’d have to finish before the playlist did! That was kind of fun, and worked out, since I was a little over 49 minutes on Saturday. Here’s the playlist:


It was a random mix, but got the job done! 🙂

** Push it was the last song on Saturday, which was random, but totally appropriate!!

What are your thoughts on running with music?





  1. I “gave up” running with music a few months back, when I started running with my hubby and he didn’t. Thankfully I get to hear the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean for the majority of my runs so I don’t feel like I am missing out 🙂 Not to mention I LOVE cheering on others during races (and even training runs).

  2. I used to ONLY run with music but then I started running on roads more often and with cars and such I ditched the ipod. I do think it helped when I needed SOMETHING to keep me going, or keep my mind off how much that run stunk. The earbuds also always fell out so it was annoying. I would like to add music back here and there but haven’t yet.

      • So funny you blogged about this when you did, I ran with music today! First time in about a year. On a trail with no cars and no people. I guess 45 degrees kept them home

  3. I almost always run with tunes I’ve downloaded to the ipod. I really don’t want to hear either my feet hitting the pavement or my lungs fighting for air. And the right tune at just the right time, (thank you Mr. Mars as I ran through the back of Lights, Motors, Action last November!), can definitely get tired legs moving again!

    • LOL! It’s funny that you mention the “my feet hitting the pavement or my lungs fighting for air” – I tell you what, I don’t mind hearing my own, but at the half this weekend, I learned that I get annoyed at hearing that of others, haha 😉 I wanted to give a girl near me a pep talk about proper breathing…

  4. I used to be hooked to listening to music while running. It wasn’t until I was prepping for a half and iPods were banned that I had to learn to run without music. Since then, I can’t stand to run with my iPod. I now find it to be a distraction; my arm band irritates my arms, I never seem to choose the right headphones and the music just interferes with my tempo. Living along the coast I enjoy the sounds around me, not to mention it’s safer. This does not mean I don’t have some random song stuck in my head that I sing to myself on repeat 🙂

    • OMG yes! I often run with a song running through my head..I also create some pretty great mashups in my mind…

  5. I prefer running with music. There’s just something about the beat of the music that keeps me going during especially tough workouts. Because of my schedule as a teacher and our very unpredictable weather here in DC I have to complete about half of my runs on the treadmill, and the idea of running on the treadmill without music just sounds painful!

  6. It really, really depends. I never listen to music when I run with my training groups, obvs. But sometimes on the treadmill I listen to TVs or podcasts, not necessarily music but something to get my mind off the fact I’m moving but not going anywhere 🙂 I’ve been thinking about writing a playlist post for a really long time since music has been such a fun and dynamic part of my running experience — especially since I’ve been listening to pretty much the same songs since I started running in 2005! Um this was a long comment where I said nothing. So, I’ll end with great post and you’re the best with or without music or watch.

  7. I never thought I could run without music but I just did the 5k, 10K, and half marathon all at disney in Feb without music! I never thought I could go 13 miles without it. It’s probably because Disney is so exciting to begin with. I don’t know if I could do that at any other race!

  8. I run with music sometimes, but surprisingly not very often. On most of my runs I actually listen to podcasts, which I really enjoy. When I race I’ll sometimes listen to music, but I try to wait until towards the end. I like to take in all the crowds and enjoy the moments that I’m racing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s