My first half-marathon was in 2005.
It wasn’t an ideal first foray into 13.1 territory—just a flat out-and-back course on a gloomy road, in the rain, with very few spectators. I made a rookie mistake and wore a cotton shirt. But even worse, I forgot my headphones. All I heard was my breathing and the sound of my feet hitting the pavement and puddles for 13.1 miles.
That was all there was to focus on for the entire race, and for me it was indescribably boring. I haven’t made that mistake since, and music is an absolutely crucial part of any workout I do.
I have never been a fan of silence when it comes to sports or fitness. In high school, we would blast Britney in the locker room and all take turns singing the words. We would make up chants on the bus and on the bench. In college, I used to crank away on my bike trainer in my dorm room, blasting Brand New while my legs burned, climbing an imaginary hill.
I actually admire runners and athletes who embrace the silence.
To me, they are probably experiencing their activity the way it was originally meant to be experienced. There is something about being able to focus solely on one thing that is refreshingly pure, especially in this age of overwhelming noise in all aspects of our lives. I definitely understand why some people can be annoyed with their "headphoned" counterparts. There’s the unfortunate case of people using headphones who don’t pay attention to their surroundings at all, leading to awkward “on your left” passing interactions that fall on deaf ears.
But for me, music exponentially adds to both my enjoyment and motivation, to the point where I am basically dependent on it to get a good workout.
Some songs have gotten me to the finish line when my feet can’t (thank you My Chemical Romance), and some songs have gotten me one more rep during CrossFit (thank you Kendrick Lamar). My favorite part of Spartan Races is when someone runs up alongside me with a speaker in their backpack, blasting music, even if it’s only for a moment. When I’m in the middle of a boxing round and can barely hold up my arms anymore, the chorus kicks in and I can always find new strength.
So regardless if you’re an old-school realist or an earbud aficionado, discover what pushes you that one extra step when your body tells you it can’t do it. The battle is 95% mental. Tap into your personal catalyst for overcoming obstacles, and continue to beat yesterday.
Are you someone who has to have music during a workout? Comment below and let me know if we share that in common!