How My Workouts Make Me Smarter

June 3, 2016

Remember those old radio headsets with the built-in headphones?

Those were so cool! I received a pair for Christmas in 1997 right when they were becoming the “it” product.

I busted them out for my practices on my cross country team, and was one of the few “cool guys” running with headphones with no wires connect to a Walkman! #livingthedream

I would listen to whatever radio station I could dial the little wheel into. There weren’t a whole lot of options since the reception wasn’t all that great, but the headset worked well enough.

Once iPods were released, I migrated to an iPod Nano and dramatically downsized my running equipment.

For years, I listened to music while I was running. Until 2013.

Running through the hills near my house in sunny Carlsbad, CA, I oftentimes felt guilty while listening to music while running. I felt like it was a waste of time. I felt like I could be doing something more valuable with my time.

  • I could be working on launching one of my 58 business ventures.
  • I could be writing one of my 28 book ideas.
  • I could be spending more time with my kids.
  • I could I could I could be…


While all of us have the same 24 hours in a day, it dawned on me that I can merge some ideas together to get more bang for the buck.

I honestly don’t know why I didn’t think of this earlier, but for the first time in my life, I stopped listening to music on my run. Instead, I found a sermon on a podcast and listened to a message by Craig Groeshel rather than Eminem.

Four unexpected things happened:

  • My runs seemed to fly by.
    As the pastor was delivering his messages, my run seemed to go by quickly. I was distracted from the pain of the run by the words I was focusing upon.
  • I began running longer distances.
    I oftentimes would plan my distances based on how long a message was. If the message was 46 minutes, I would plan for 23 minutes out and 23 minutes back. For most of my runs, however, I would simply start running on just keep going until I finished the podcast episode. If the podcast was longer than my usual run, I often ran longer distances so I could finish the message.
  • I felt like I was accomplishing things.


I know that working out is already accomplishing something by allowing me to get in shape and live a healthier lifestyle. But by combining the workout with the run, I felt like I was exercising both physically and mentally.

I began to look forward to my runs.
I would often have more of a desire to learn than I would have the desire to go for a run, so it was often my craving for more knowledge that held me accountable to getting out the door.

Since I have switched from listening to music during my workouts to podcasts, I have reverted back to music only a handful of times—mainly because I just wasn’t in the mood to listen to someone talk.

While I initially began listening to sermons, I have since downloaded hundreds of podcasts regarding leadership, entrepreneurship, business development, finances, ministry and more.

Rarely do I ever look back and wish that I still listen to music on my runs, and I don’t expect to ever revert back. Time is far too valuable to waste it on listening to music as opposed to learning and growing.

My challenge for you is to give it a shot. Try using the time on your run or during your work out in a much more intentional way.

Question: If you have ever tried listening to something other than music while on a run? What was your experience like?







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