You sign up for the big race.
Training is going so well, you're ready for a PR.
The week of the race arrives, and you're looking over the race website.
That's when you see it.
The no headphone policy.
You can't remember the last time you ran without music. You've even postponed workouts to let your iPhone charge. How are you going to cover 13.1 miles without Miley Cyrus?!?!
There are many benefits to running sans music and it would likely be in the best interest of most athletes to at least occasionally train without.
And here is why.
Association This is when you pay close attention to what is happening, during training and races. It is believed that association, body awareness, and mindfulness, all can help you better pace yourself by perceived effort and be attentive to any potential injuries. Disassociation often occurs with music use. It's a potential cause for the marathon bonk.
Music like Caffeine Just like avoiding caffeine makes its use more effective, avoiding music may make it more effective when the time is right. Like, during a tempo run or track workout. Research is quite clear it does improve performance. It has even been compared to doping, but using it sparingly may help boost that benefit.
Safety Few things are more annoying than riding a bike and coming up on a runner who does not hear you yell "on the left!" and having to slow or stop to get around them. Being unaware of your surroundings is not only dangerous to yourself, but others as well. A good option if you must listen to earphones, is the One Good Earphone.
Awareness of Environment Aside from being more aware for safety reasons, simply being more aware of your environment will make the run more enjoyable. You'll notice new curiosities along regular routes that somehow have gone unseen.
Less Gear Minimalism is not just in the shoes. The less gear you drag along with you, the less that can bug you (like a flopping around cord) and go wrong (like the battery dying). There is something quite satisfying about going out for a run with just a watch on.
Conversation Meet up with a friend for a run, or talk to a complete stranger who you are sharing the trail with. Or even talk to yourself inside your head.
So while you do not need to cut the cord all together, consider spending some time "running naked" as it is often called. Who knows, maybe you'll find you prefer it!