This is a toughee. Many race organizers will not allow you to wear headphones whilst running a race for saferty reasons, so if you have only trained with music you could have a problem on race day. That said, I have seen severe flouting of the rules at various races.
Today, I raced my usual 8-miler, but for a change I ran with music, rather than without. If I run without music I find I am more aware of my surroundings and not just in terms of traffic. Runnning without music also gives me the time to think about my day or my week or what I have coming up. Last week when I ran my 8-miler, I left the house at 10.05am and completed my run at 12.20. I wasn't particularly in the mood for the long run, so I decided to just plod it out, and that is what I did. So the run took me 2hr 15mins.
This week, running exactly the same route, in pretty much the same condiitions but with music.. well, let's examine the differencs. Firstly, we had bought a running compilation CD last weekend. A great 3-CD collection consisting of a 'Jog' CD, a 'Run' CD and a 'Sprint' CD by 'Ministry of Sound'. So first I knew I had great music to listed to on my run, and secondly I was up for having a good run with music, just because it's such a nice change.
The run was amazing. I left the house at 10.25am and completed the run at 12.05, so a total 1hr 40 minutes. Gosh, is that actually right ?? Wow, that's a difference of 35 minutes over 8 miles. I think you'd agree that that's a pretty amazing difference. The music did have a fantastic beat, and I found that the music, which was nice and loud, completely blocked out everything including my endless mind chatter which did actually enable me to focus on the task in hand - the run. I also found that my own huffing and puffing puts me off and makes me run slower, but of course I couldn't hear any of that, so I really wasn't as aware as usual of my effort, which enabled me to run quicker. With your heaing moreorless taken away, please remember to be extra aware of your surroundings when crossing roads and paths etc and who is around you generally.
The music I was listening to consisted of a good base beat with a melody over the top, so you can either run with the beat or the melody, the music also has areas of what can only describe as building-up 'whoosh' noises which then fade away, which I guess is your opportunity to up the pace and have a sprint. And I did.
I don't plan to run with music every time I run, but I think in the right circumstances, with the right frame of mind music can be a great training aid. Just don't rely on it in a race !
Here's a link to the Running Trax (3 CD) set I was using..available at the moment for a bargain price of £3.99- what a bargain only £1.33 per CD. That's go to be the best fitness investment you'll get all year.
Happy and safe running.