The Unexpected Benefits of a “No Tech” Run

I like to call myself an avid runner. I don’t run record-breaking times, but I’ve developed and fine-tuned this exercise habit of mine over the past 4 years or so. Whether it’s rain or shine, I love lacing up my running shoes and hitting the pavement. Such a simple daily activity consistently fuels my soul and challenges both my mind and body.

As with any habit that’s been practiced over and over again, I have a pretty stringent routine for getting daily miles in. I lace up my Brooks Adrenaline GTS shoes (I’ve gone through 5 pairs of these shoes because I love them so so much), put on my Garmin watch and AirPods, cue my running Spotify playlist, and head out the door. It’s evolved into my own simple recipe where these tools are the key ingredients to an enriching meal. However, I’ve come to notice that I lack motivation and struggle to accomplish logging my miles when one of my ingredients is missing. My routine lacks flexibility and I begin to fear that I won’t have the perfect run, often skipping the session altogether. What I’ve come to realize, though, is the power of intentionally changing up your typical routine, especially when it comes to running which can become repetitive very quickly.

The change I decided to make today involved distancing myself from technology, a concept I’m trying to apply to many areas of my life at the moment. I ran without my Airpods, therefore without Spotify, and therefore without my phone. And it was energizing to say the least. I’ve always thought that I would get bored easily if I ran without music, but I found it surprisingly calming. Here are a few takeaways from my “no tech” run:

  1. I felt more in-tune with my body. I noticed every step that I took and actually ran a little bit faster than my easy runs normally are. I was physically aware of how grateful I am to have a strong and able body to carry me all of those miles.
  2. I noticed new things. I’ve been running the same route around the local park for almost four years now, and I still observed new subtle features on the path that I doubt were implemented in the past couple of days when I last ran it. Nature is beautiful, and running outside gives us the opportunity to take it all in while getting in our daily steps.
  3. It cleared my mind. Running is my natural stress reliever. With music, I can disappear into another world and fully immerse myself in the beat of the song. But without music, I felt even more clarity. New ideas for this blog emerged, along with insights about the direction I want my life to head in the future.

At the end of the day, I don’t NEED music. Sure, it’s nice to jam out to the entire Hamilton soundtrack on a long run, but I’m also perfectly okay with leaving it behind somedays in order to experience the other benefits of mental clarity and increased physical awareness. While I’m not ready to completely get rid of my AirPods, I’m definitely going to implement a short “no tech” run either weekly or bi-weekly. I encourage you to try it out too! And if running isn’t your thing, try a tech-free walk or bike ride–as long as it’s outside, it doesn’t matter what activity you’re practicing. The sun will light your path.

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