When I started running one of the things that kept me putting one foot in front of the other was music. The thought of running without music wasn't an option. I also had become addicted to my Nike+ app constantly spitting out my pace at every mile in my ear. How could I run if I didn't know how fast I was going? If my iPhone was dead, forget it. I'm staying home until it's charged. Or so I thought.
When I lived in LA my running partner Marci would come to my house four days a week at 6:15am to meet for a run (I was way too lazy to get up any earlier and refused to go to her house to run. Sorry, Marci, I'm lame!). We had been running together for about a year (and when I say 'together' I mean I watched Marci run ahead and leave me in the dust while I would catch up with her at stoplights and plead with her to wait for one more light passage so I could catch my breath) when one morning I found my iPhone had not charged properly during the night and was dead. Marci was already on her way over so I couldn't bail out of this run (another plus for having a running partner - especially one that is faster and more motivated than you - she'll make you go no matter how much you don't want to). We only had to do three miles that morning and so we set off, me without headphones for the first time. It was going to be hard, it was going to be impossible, my mind was going to take over and shut me down, I was either going to run too fast and have to stop or run too slow and not train properly because I would have no idea what my pace was. But you know what? It was amazing. The early LA morning was silent - something quite rare in that city. I heard my feet pounding the pavement, I listened to my breath, and the jingling of my dog Bailey's tags tinkling next to me (my ever faithful other running partner).
When we finished I didn't know what my time was, I didn't know what my pace was, and it felt amazing. Letting go of all tracking devices and music and just running felt so pure. Now, its not something I'm ready to do all the time, but its definitely something I'm going to try and do more of. I've signed up for a triathlon in September that doesn't allow headphones - it will be my first event sans any music or voice in my ear telling me what my pace is. I don't use headphones when I swim, I rarely do when I bike (unless I'm on the stationary bike at the gym), so why should it be any different when I run?