Quiet Running: Running in Silence and the Power of Unplugging

Quiet Running: Running in Silence and the Power of Unplugging

Joshua_TreeJoshua Tree National Park, California. Spring of 2014. 

I pull the car off to the side of the road, following not road signs but instinct.  The overwhelming noise of driving, of the wind and the wheels and the constant presence of 60-mile-an-hour danger is beginning to froth and bubble.  It’s too easy to ignore that, to drive on harder, to put in music and shift focus away from myself, but I do not.

The Power of Unplugging from a Plugged-in World

I stop, and the immediate cessation of external inputs begins the soothing process. My companion on the drive is a 53-year-old woman, one of the toughest people I know. A big wave jet-ski rescuer, she has long been deeply connected to her own intuition. Working with the ocean, with forces far more powerful than any human agency, she has learned the power of listening to your gut. She understands the need to be away and watches me walk off without question.

The gentle ticking of the engine fades as I drift into the desert towards one of my old friends to be. The sun is hot and bright, the shade cool and protective. I lay on my back in the spiky shade of a Joshua Tree and connect with the earth.

Stop and unplug

The stress falls away. The quaking silence builds. Within minutes I am fully relaxed, re-energized, alert, and ready to re-connect.  I get up, brush off my shorts, and walk back to the car.  We drive on towards home.

That moment of silence, of almost complete lack of unnatural external input, has been a source of calm and strength for me ever since. In the babbling bustle of a busy day, I think back to that moment and instantly reconnect to that emotion.  It’s one that we as humans seem to miss, the ability to enjoy total silence, to embrace only natural inputs, to have no need to constantly push out communications via the various minor evils of electronic networks.

The Inaudible Silence of Running (and why we need it!)

What does that silence have to do with running? 

Grand Canyon  - down from South Rim
Hiking down from the South Rim at the Grand Canyon


As we move further into the unknown consequences of communicating more than we have evolved to, silence is one foolproof method of relief. As Twitter grows and Facebook fades, as the next generation of social networks begin to rise and we become sucked in ever more swiftly to constant updates of ever less meaningful information and surrounded by cacophony, silence is our last redoubt.

Where can we find that natural quiet so necessary to restore our communicative balance?

For many of us, we turn to running on trails, away from roads and signs and people and cars. Running is a natural way to release tension and stress, it’s our built-in mechanism that has been honed and crafted over the millennia of evolution. It’s not for everyone, and the squat rack is a great alternative for those who find no joy in running. When I say “running” feel free to interpret that as running your physical engine, however you accomplish it.  When we run our engine, we have the chance to reconnect with our physical body unadorned with external communication. This is the key part; without external communication.

There's Power in Plugging into Nature and a deep desire to get back to basics

Too many times we head off on a run and just as we are about the enter the holy temple of silence that is our source of personal restoration, we short-circuit the experience and plug back in to the electronic world via headphones.

Why do people do this?

Grand Canyon down Kaibab
Making my way down the Kaibab Trail at the Grand Canyon


Many say they need music to get motivated, or they use the time to listen to podcasts or catch up on phone calls or to distract them from the effort of the run.  At the risk of sounding like a Luddite, stop trying to plug-in when you unplug! Listen to music or podcasts or make calls on the way to your workout and on the way home, but protect your run, your restoration time, your last redoubt from modern hyper-communication with all your power!

There is a basic human skill and connection to develop in understanding your body’s communication, and it is almost impossible to learn if you’re being distracted by any outside noise. If you’re trying to distract yourself from the effort (or pain), take that as a clear signal you need to learn to connect with and move your body differently.

Working out, whether you’re squatting heavy or running hard should NOT be so painful that you need to be distracted from it.

Learn to create that quiet space and to listen to that connection every time you run and you will reap far more enjoyment than you will ever be distracted away from pain.

In disconnecting from the noise and honing in on the signal you may finally find what you originally went looking for when you started down the path away from cacophony.

See you on the (quiet) run!

Nik Hawks - Paleo Treats - BIOAuthor Bio: Nik Hawks

Nik is one of the co-founders of Paleo Treats Inc (www.paleotreats.com), a paleo dessert company started in 2009.  Nik is a quality fanatic and whether he's running on the trails, selling cookies or sitting down to write he puts everything he has into the task at hand.  You can connect with Nik & Paleo Treats via the web, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

Web: www.paleotreats.com
Twitter: @paleotreats
Facebook: @paleotreatsfan
Instagram: @paleotreats

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  • First, let me say, “Nicely written piece, Nik.” It’s refreshing to read something amongst the fitness blogs with a little blood on it. We could use more of this. As far as the subject matter, I can say I’ve definitely been of two minds. When I was younger, there would have been no activity without music. Finding the right music for the occasion was everything. As time has passed, and my lifestyle of fitness has become more granite, I find myself less tethered. In fact, I need less in general. I need less shoe, less fashion, less sound. Now, if I could go back in time, I don’t know if I would try and convince my younger self to unplug. Would I be where I am today if I had done so? Still, you make a strong argument for people to consider. Thanks Nik.