On music and exercise

A huge part of my healthy gluten free lifestyle is keeping myself fit and happy from the inside out and from the outside in. For me, this means exercising 5-6 days a week. If you asked me six years ago if exercise was an important part of my life, I probably would have laughed in your face. I was hitting the gym once or twice a week, where I’d cruise on the elliptical or struggle through a pilates class. And I’d follow that class up with a couple of gluten-full beers and a plate of pasta from the dining hall. No wonder I wasn’t feeling great! Today, I’ve run six half marathons and I get cranky if I don’t get to the yoga studio 2-3 times a week. I feel amazing, and as a bonus, I finally lost that lingering college weight!

Side plank by the lake! #yogaeverywhere
Side plank by the lake! #yogaeverywhere

Part of what helped me make exercise a real part of my life was canceling my gym membership. I’m not anti-gym, but I am anti-exercise-that-isn’t-fun-and-doesn’t-make-you-happy. (I’m also anti anyone who is anti trying new things, so please don’t tell me you “can’t run” or “can’t do yoga” if you haven’t given it a fair chance.)


Personally, I plain old didn’t like going to the gym. I do enjoy yoga, and as it turns out, I really really like being outside. Whether I’m hiking, walking, running, x-c skiing, or downhill skiing, give me someone to chitchat with and some fresh New England air and I’m a happy camper.

On top of the world
On top of the world

As easy and breezy as that sounds now, it has taken me a while to get to this point–and I’m not ashamed to say that music is one of my biggest motivators. I love popping in my headphones and cruising down the Charles River bike path with my Spotify playlists blasting. I also learned to love yoga to the beats of Erica and Caitlyn’s fabulous hip hop yoga yoga classes at Back Bay Yoga. Nothing distracts you from the sweat dripping down your face 65 minutes into a killer vinyasa class like Jay Z,  #amiright?

Something funny happened recently, though–I started to find the music distracting. And not in that fabulous, makes-the-time-fly-by kind of way, but in the irritating, I-can’t-find-my-rhythm kind of way. Both during my yoga practice and my runs, I’m starting to work on dropping into the groove and listening to my body and breath instead of the music. It’s a funny mindset switch for me. I LIKE listening to music while I work out–I know lots of hardcore runners and yogis who are morally opposed, and I have no such problem. But I also like that I’m at a place where I’m not using the music as a crutch. Also, I’m hoping this will help me pace my runs a little bit better and work on running not just farther, but faster. Maybe even a full marathon someday. I still let loose with the occasional hip hop yoga class, and I’ll likely plug in for my longer runs, but in the meantime I’m going to work on listening to my body, my breath, and the sounds of my favorite city. I’m pretty excited about it.

Crossing the finish line of my first half marathon without headphones!
Crossing the finish line of my first half marathon without headphones!

Do you run with headphones in? What kind of music gets you through your toughest workouts? What’s your stance–is music a crutch, a necessity, or a nice added bonus?

3 thoughts on “On music and exercise

  1. Pingback: Thinking out loud Thursday: my running must-haves | My GF Boston

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