Like the Mighty Flea, I've banned the tunes... while I'm running. Early 2008 I took up running to fill the void left by years and years of college and post-grad education. In the beginning, I could barely run a 1/2 mile on the treadmill. Over time, I got outside and was running close to 13 miles a week. I did a couple of 5k races and got pretty slow to mediocre times. I relied a lot on my iPod to keep me motivated. The Bouncing Souls and the Sounds helped get me through that beginning phase of running. I even shed 20lbs in the process.
Then 2009 happened. We moved to the Phoenix area and I fell off the wagon and gained most of that weight back. THEN 2010 happened and I started to make a serious commitment to running. First thing I did was strap on the iPod and turn up the Bouncing Souls. Almost immediately I found my running experience to be tedious and a chore. I found my self counting how many songs it took to run 3 miles. Also, it seemed pace and breathing would change with the tempo of each different song. Since not all of my songs have a tempo of 120, I felt my brain revolting on me while I was on the run. It felt like my brain was trying to sabotage any success I might have while trying to reach my running goals.
Now I'm tuneless and the world is better. Because the tunes are off (as much as I love the Souls and the Sounds), I can hear my breathing pattern, my heartbeat, and concentrate on my pace and stride. Even better, I can hear the wonderful world around me. Now that I live in Ohio again, I can hear the wind in the trees, the cardinal singing, smell the lilac, and most importantly, hear cars. I run twice as much as I used to and I'm afraid putting plugs in my ears can put me at risk for being unaware of drivers that don't watch for runners.
The debate for and against running with tunes is discussed at length here at Runner's World Magazine online. For me, I simply cannot do it anymore. My success has doubled since dropping the tunes. I've dropped 45lbs and I'll be doing my first 1/2 marathon in September (here) and the Ragnar Relay in Las Vegas in October (here). Plus I've shaved off about 10 minutes from previous race times.
People still ask me for race playlists, which I'm more than happy to provide. But, Flea (of RHCP fame) who ran his first marathon and when asked about if he listens to music while running, he said "Never. I don't like it. It's like my senses are so overwhelmed already, so full. The sound of my heartbeat, running up this canyon here in Malibu, the birds, the animals, the sights, it's so much already. It's a beautiful thing." Right on brother Flea, right on.