This article originally appeared on The Lone Runner’s blog.
Getting along with The Voices inside of My Head…Finally Going Music Free
I’m friends with the monster that’s under my bed
Get along with the voices inside of my head
the You’re trying to save me, stop holding your breath
And you think I’m crazy, yeah, you think I’m crazy
from “The Monster” by Eminem
It’s official: I have gone completely music-free while running. I never thought I’d say this, but I absolutely love it. I love hearing the birds chirping in the morning, the leaves rustling above in the trees and the cars whooshing by on the road close by. I love waking up with world. Even more, I love watching the world wake up.
Going music-free is so much more than just opening yourself up to the world around you. By going radio-silent you expose yourself to your own thoughts, fears and vulnerabilities when on the road. You have to push yourself onward. You have to motivate yourself. You have to believe. Imagine heading out on a 2 hour long-run or a speedy tempo run with only your thoughts to motivate you. Would they motivate you or turn on you in the face of fear? Would your legs move fast enough without the beat of the music? In the face of frustration, will you encourage yourself to push onward or will your mind give up and shout ‘no more?’ For two years I wasn’t sure what my mind would say or do, so I conceded and ran with my music.
For over 2 years I felt like I needed my music to motivate me and propel me forward. When in need of a mantra I looked to my music. Miss Independent, miss self-sufficient, miss keep-your-distance… This is my fight song, take back my life song….She had the sightless eyes telling me no lies, knocking me out with those American thighs… Suddenly I see, this is what I want to be… She’s got her head in the clouds and she’s not backing down, this girl is on FIRE!… I could go on forever, but I think you get the point. For two years music has been my mantra. It has helped me ignore the ‘but what if I can’t’ thoughts that arose on a run to push onward and lean into the hurt. Until recently.
About three weeks ago I was in the middle of a long run, struggling to focus and keep my heart rate in check. My long runs typically start at a comfortable, easy pace (zone 1) and then gradually descend into a peppy pace (zone 2) during the final miles. The goal in these descending paced long runs is to start slow enough that you will be able to negative split each successive mile. Early on I found myself getting ahead of the plan by running to the beat of the music with a startlingly high heart rate. I kept telling myself, Slow down, Kass. Too fast. Going too fast. You still have 10 miles to go. Slow it down. And yet my pace continued on par with the music. With 6 miles to go I ripped off my headphones and for the first time ever I actually wanted and needed to hear my own voice while running. Somehow the music that I once loved started to feel like white noise that was confusing me and getting in my way of enjoying running in a whole new way I never knew existed.
For the past three weeks I have ran completely music free. And for the first time ever I am not afraid to be alone with my own thoughts. I think I’m ready to believe. Early in my running career I know I needed the music to motivate me, to help me along- I simply wasn’t strong or confident enough to lean into the hurt. But recently something has changed. I’m not afraid of the voices in my head and actually I know that when I am hurting- when part of me wants to quit (like during those evil 800′s) my inner strength will persevere because I know I am strong enough.
Now I create my own mantras. Every day they are different, yet they always come from within. I tell myself, Can’t stop, won’t stop, NEVER STOP RUNNING…. propel… yes, you can… I can, I will, I am (thanks Bree for the inspiration!)… you get what you give… among many others.
Training hard doesn’t mean it hurts less, it just means you believe you are capable of more.
Where this confidence came from, I’m not sure. Maybe it’s from running enough miles. Maybe it’s from training through Boston’s worst winter in history. Maybe it’s from running the GD 2015 Boston marathon in the cold, wet rain in the face of hypothermia and clawing my way to the finish. Maybe I’m starting to find peace with my demons. Honestly I don’t know where it come from, but I can tell you that it is breathtaking to see the sun rise over the horizon, watch the world wake up, to run 10 unplugged morning miles on my own two feet and to finally believe in my strength.
I’m not sure if it’s even possible, but I think I’m falling in love with running, again.
Never Stop Running,
The Lone Runner
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Amen. I’m in this position myself right now, learning to unplug. Thanks for the inspiration!