Music Doesn't Make You Run Slower!

Contributed by Michele Gonzalez,  wife, mother, ultrarunner, and FitFluential Ambassador. A former Captain in the US Army, she is now a stay at home mom who is currently training for a sub 3:10 marathon and her first Ironman (NYC – Aug 2012). Her blog, NYCrunningmama, focuses on her training and races, as well as pregnancy and motherhood. To learn more about Michele, follow her on Twitter OR Facebook. 
I’m a huge believer that while running can be a group activity, it is extremely personal.  What works for one runner may not work for someone else.  Through trial and error, we find what works best for us.
For example, I take a day off before a long run and prefer to do a shakeout run after a long run.  I am rested for my long run and recover well from the back-to-back runs.  However, I know many runners who train the opposite way.  Sure, you can you argue all day about the benefits / drawbacks of each, but in the end, you do what you feel most comfortable doing.
Another example – I wear a Garmin when I go on my “quality” runs (long, speed, and tempo runs) but I prefer to not use one on easy days because I want my body to dictate the pace – without being consumed with my pace.  I don’t judge those runners who will never run a mile without their Garmin or those who would never come within 5 feet of one.  Again, it’s a personal decision.
I run with music.  Almost. Every. Single. Run.  I’m not ashamed to admit this.  I am a music lover – I enjoy everything about music.  Music makes me happy.  Which is  why I take it with me on runs – especially on long runs.  For me, there is nothing better than when one of my favorite songs come on my IPOD and I get pumped up and pick up the pace during mile 20 of that long run.
I also race with music.  I have run some big races with my IPOD:  NYC Marathon, Boston Marathon, NYC Half…yes, there are literally millions of fans along the course.  I’m sometimes asked why I would wear music and “miss out” on all the cheering.  There are points at all of my races where the crowd is intoxicating and motivating – it doesn’t take much energy or coordination to shut the music for the 5, 10, 20 minutes that I want to enjoy and soak up the crowd.  And I try to keep the music low enough to hear the cheering.  In my opinion, it’s the best of both worlds.
Running with my IPOD does NOT make me slower nor does it make me any less serious of a runner.  I’ve run my fastest times with my IPOD.  And I consider myself to be a pretty serious, dedicated runner.
There seems to be this elitist mentality among some runners who run sans music.  (Note: I’m not saying every runner who doesn’t use an IPOD feels this way but I’ve encountered many who fit this description).  I’ve been in conversations with runners who almost scoff at me or look down on me when they hear I wear an IPOD – as though running with music is for casual runners – not those who are serious.
I’m sure there are countless arguments as to why running without music helps you and your body – you can hear and monitor your breathing, enjoy nature and your surroundings, be on the lookout for dogs, cars…But you can use those arguments for why you want to run with music – I have found that my heavy breathing psyches me out, I prefer to enjoy my surroundings with my favorite music, and I keep music low enough (or only in one ear) when I am running along the road or any other area that could be unsafe.
So to all the runners out there that look down on us – please don’t.  I am just as serious and dedicated as you are.  I train hard.  I race harder.  My IPOD does not mean I take running lightly. 
What are your thoughts?  Are you a music lover?  Or do you prefer running sans music?

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