Running with Music in My Ears

Its a growing trend to see runners of all types running with headphone or more recently “ear buds.” Do you run with an iPod or other music player? On one occasion I actually saw someone listening to their cellphone (with headphones), presumably using it as a mp3 player.

This trend has caused some concern with fellow runners, race directors, and even the USATF. The USATF has actually banned the use of music players during sanctioned races. Updated: Headphones are allowed for non-championship runners, if the race directors allow. (more here) Conversely, it has caused some excitement for the folks at Nike who created the Nike+ system. I’ve not actually used the Nike+ but would love to hear your reviews, it seems like a neat system.

I do have experience with a few different mp3 players. I’ve used the Dell DJ Ditty (which is no longer being sold) and the Sansa e250, which I absolutely love. It is great to use with the armband and provides hours upon hours of entertainment. My wife uses an iPod, which is great for sedentary activity or gym workouts, but tends to freeze while she runs. Checking the Apple forums, this seems to be a pretty common experience. Suggestions included running with it in your hands instead of on your bicep. That seemed to do the trick, but isn’t quite as convenient. Runner’s World provides some more insights into different players here.

I tend to listen to a wide variety of podcasts when I run. My wife thinks I’m a geek and would prefer listening to upbeat music to help carry her through the run. A nice place to get music for running or working out is called Fitpod. Fitness + iPod = Fitpod You can search for your running pace, workout type, and length and get a music selection to fit your needs then download it and go for your run!!

With this fad it is still important to be safe and courteous to other runners. If someone is listening to music they can’t hear you approaching or signalling that you are going to pass them, which has caused many near heart attacks I think, when I go by people. In that vain I’ll close with a list of 7 safety tips from Runner’s World.

  1. Limit yourself to listening to music only while on the treadmill or during races (although some don’t allow it).
  2. If you’re outdoors, run in safe, familiar, public areas with minimal (or better yet, nonexistent) traffic.
  3. Whenever possible, run with a partner. Running buddies who don’t listen to music may feel a bit snubbed, but there’s safety in numbers, and it’s always good to have at least one pair of unencumbered ears.
  4. Or run with a dog. Canines love exercise even more than we do. They’re great security and they don’t mind being tuned-out.
  5. Consider open-air, or supra-aural, headphones, which do not seal off your ear canal, allowing more ambient noise (like car horns and cycling pelotons) to remain audible.
  6. As for volume, keep it just loud enough to hear the music but low enough that you can hear the sounds around you. It’s a fine balance-but it’s worth locating.
  7. Finally, don’t assume that the one-ear-only method is any safer. Research shows that using headphones in just one ear can confuse your brain-perhaps more dangerous than listening with both sides of your head.

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7 thoughts on “Running with Music in My Ears

  1. Anderson Runner

    Yes I'll post that tommorrow morning! But in the meantime you can check the right hand side of the website and scroll through the calendar! It looks like there are 6 races this weekend!!!

  2. kara

    I have a Sansa MP3 player too. No problems with it so far. But it has a few scratches. I take my tunes with me running, but not in races. I like to hear the competition.

  3. Pingback: Team Cross Runs » What is on the iPod?

  4. Pingback: Take Care of Your Buds | Team Cross Runs

  5. chris wind

    You might want to check out my "Pacers" – music specifically composed to be run to.

    "Pacer 3" is 41 minutes of music at 160 steps per minute and "Pacer 5" is 43 minutes of music at 176 steps per minute.

    Both can be downloaded from my website – for free!

    “Pacer 3 is chariots of fire type stuff, with such energy behind it that it is impossible not to move when the tape starts. A steady and very brisk background beat remains constant, with lively mid-range electronic keyboard and wind gusts that vary. The energy boost this tape provides is amazing; whether for running, aerobics, rebounding, walking, or even housework, it will get and keep you moving with joy.” Dimensions 48

    “Pacer 5, like Pacer 3, is music to move by. Instead of wind, there is running water, for runners who like a more serene, gentle, less aggressive approach to exercise….” Dimensions 48


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