How to Run Without Music

Tips for Beating Boredom

Although I don't usually listen to music while running, I totally get that some upbeat and fun tunes can be an awesome distraction and motivation boost. But blocking off your sense of hearing can also be unsafe in certain running conditions.

If you can't listen to music, there are plenty of other ways to push yourself through tough runs. So if you typically run with tunes and you'd like to do some of your runs sans music, here are some strategies to try avoid feeling bored or unmotivated:

Talk to others.


Whenever I run with others, the miles seem to go by much faster than when I'm running by myself. Make running dates with friends or join a running group so you're not always going solo. Long runs especially are a great opportunity to run with others because you should be running at a conversational pace. And chatting with others during runs is a great way to learn new running tips and get advice or reviews on running gear.
Also see: 5 Ways to Be a More Social Runner
How to Find Running Partners

Brainstorm ideas.

Running can help you clear your mind and just give you a chance to really focus on a subject. I like to use my running time to think -- about anything from new topics to write about, meals to cook, activities for my kids to do, or gift ideas for relatives or friends. I even keep a notebook next to my treadmill so I can jot down an idea after (sometimes even during) my run.

Run off some stream.

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If I'm stressed or angry about something, running almost always makes me feel better. Turning up the volume on your iPod also seems like a good idea, but it doesn't give you a chance to think about the situation and hopefully let it go. A running break helps me get away from the situation and think more clearly about it. And often the run gives me the perspective to realize it's not something that I should be that angry or worried about after all.
Also see: 5 Ways to Boost Your Mood While Running

Focus on the workout and your performance.

I find when I'm doing a very structured workout, such as an interval workout or hill repeats, The workout goes by very quickly, and I don't get bored because I'm also focusing on something -- the time, my pace, the recovery. If you typically do most of your runs at the same, easy pace, try mixing it up with some speed work.
Also see: How to Run Hill Repeats
Speed Workouts for Runners

Solve problems.

Runner outside in fall weather
Chase Jarvis/Getty Images
Running gives me uninterrupted, peaceful time to think deeply and productively about something I want to fix, whether it's a professional or personal issue. I'm able to forget about other concerns and really just focus on the problem and possible solutions.

Get distracted.

Music can help you completely zone out, but you can do the opposite when running without it. Try really paying attention to the sights and sounds you're passing. This is usually pretty easy to do if you're running in a race and there are lots of other runners, spectators, and other distractions around. Being more attuned to your surroundings can prevent boredom and also make you appreciate being able to run.
Also see:
Can I Wear Headphones in Races?

More: Mental Tips for Running Races
How to Beat Boredom on the Treadmill

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