WHY I STOPPED WEARING HEADPHONES

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To listen or not to listen, this is the question.

I haven’t always been a headphones person, jamming to music or listening to podcasts or audiobooks, as I run. In fact, I initially fell in love with running because of how little I “needed” in order to get out the door to run.

But I admit, I definitely started getting in the habit over this past winter. I’ve become borderline obsessed with a few different podcasts, and long (or short) runs were the perfect time to get a couple hours of listening in. For an efficiency-minded person, it was perfect.

But I’ve stopped. In triathlons, it is illegal to wear headphones during the race (USAT). A recent partnership with Aftershokz makes it seem that potentially open-ear headphones might be legal in the future, but currently all headphones are still banned in USAT events (USA Triathlon).

So, if I am training for a race that will take me around 8 hours to complete, and I am used to training for hours with podcasts in my ears, what happens when I don’t have that? Will my mental state suffer? I decided that the answer is potentially yes. I think it could be a crutch that I frankly just don’t want to lean on. I decided to leave my headphones at home and see what would happen.

The first couple of runs without headphones were admittedly mentally difficult. They seemed longer. Spring hadn’t woken up just yet when I started this experiment, and I found myself checking my watch so much. But after the third run, things changed.

Turns out, I love it! Especially in the springtime, where birds are chirping, flowers are popping out of everywhere I look, and the crisp air makes me feel like my soul is getting a blowout. I don’t have to focus on making every moment be infinitely productive – I’m already running! I instead use the time to practice being mindful, getting inside my own head instead of out of it, and enjoying nature while I’m in nature. Crazy, but worth it.

I do allow myself one run per month with my headphones if I am really into one of my podcasts or need a little extra motivation to get out the door. But otherwise, I am free to completely listen.

Get fired up! Do you wear headphones? Is it helping or hurting you? What’s a training crutch you could begin removing from your world this week?

USAT. “Competitive Rules.” Team USA, 2017, http://www.teamusa.org/USA-Triathlon/About/Multisport/Competitive-Rules.

USA Triathlon. “USA Triathlon Signs AfterShokz as Exclusive Headphone Partner, Encouraging Athletes to Be Open and Hear It All.” Team USA, 10 June 2019, http://www.teamusa.org/USA-Triathlon/News/Articles-and-Releases/2019/June/10/USA-Triathlon-Signs-AfterShokz-as-Exclusive-Headphone-Partner.

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