Despite the two decades that separate our age, Steve Moore and I have a lot in common.

The most obvious connection is our running. We both entered the sport in high school, and we were drawn to it as competitors. And, we've both been lured into the history of running and racing, so we feel like we are a part of something significant.


We do differ on a few points. I'd argue that my added experience makes me wiser, but I have to admit that Steve has used his insight and passion about running to take me to school a number of times.

There are a few things that we still disagree about, and he wrote about one of these things in his last Run Moore store newsletter. Steve is a music runner, meaning he'll often wear headphones and listen to music while he runs. I'm a purist, so I never listen to music when I'm running outside. And, as a coach, there are a number of reasons why I advise my runners against it.

It should be pointed out that I am not the kind of coach that makes demands. If I coached high school or college athletes, I would enforce more rules. But I coach independent runners, and each individual ultimately decides for themselves whether or not to take my advice. Based on my own observations, those who do get the best results.

In Steve's most recent newsletter, he professed his love for listening to music during his runs, and he used a recent run to make his point.

He began by telling his readers that he had planned an easy 5-mile run. As he started running, he felt a bit stiff and sore from runs on previous days, and that made the run less enjoyable. But, just as he made his way onto the McDaniel College track, "On the Road to Find Out," a Cat Stevens song, began playing in his ears.

Suddenly, Steve was energized, and he began running harder. Then, the next song, AC/DC's "Thunderstruck," began playing, helping Steve keep his pace. At this point in his run, Steve was running fast and working hard, feeling pumped by the emotions triggered through his music.

Steve concluded by telling how music turned a sluggish run into a great one, just like it's done so many other times for him.

But if you study what Steve acknowledged about the run he had planned, you'll understand the point I'm about to make. What he planned to do was some relaxed miles, and his body did its best to let him know that this is exactly what he needed. But, rather than enjoy those easy miles, music touched his emotions, like music tends to do, and he ignored both his plan and his body's warning signs.

While this may have resulted in a more enjoyable and memorable run, did it help Steve in his quest to reach his fall racing goals? Probably not.

The physiological details that support my opinion are beyond the scope of this essay, but I think I can sum it up quickly — the physical tools that lead to distance running success are mostly built by sustained periods of relatively easy running. Running harder than necessary on normal runs doesn't provide a greater benefit and, for most people, ultimately leads to injury.

But the body isn't the only thing we're developing. We have to train our minds as well.

If you closely study an elite marathoner racing, you'll see an expression of deep concentration. Lying under the layers of physical effort, is a quiet mind engaged in the task. That kind of mental engagement doesn't happen unless it has been cultivated over long periods of training.

And, even if a person's running goals are not based on performance, the activity offers more than physical rewards.

When we speak of peace, we often think of the world around us and the moods of the people in our lives. We can have little impact on any of that.


Real peace is only found inside ourselves, and I've discovered no better way to reach it than in the rhythm of a silent run. And once I've captured it, I can often sustain the peace until the next one.

I love music. A good song can reach me like nothing else, bringing back a distant memory or triggering an emotion that I desperately need to feel. But discipline is an important virtue for any runner who wants to reach running potential, and music feeds emotion, not self-control.

I shared a draft of this essay with Steve Moore, who quickly replied that he planned to show up to a run with a boom box on his shoulder. So, it would appear I haven't swayed him. That's OK, he hasn't swayed me either.

The truth is, for different people, or even for the same person on different days, we could both be right.