Running with Headphones: Advantages and Disadvantages

Unless I’m running with a friend or my husband, I usually put on my I-Pod Shuffle which is one of the ( best earphone ) before I head out for a run. I find it motivating to have some music when I’m running. In fact, music makes me look forward to my runs. I know that I’m not unique because I see many fellows runners out on the trails with their music devices. Yet, all too often, people don’t consider the disadvantages of running with headphones.

Several times I’ve been running down the trail when someone approaches from behind. Maybe I’ve just got my music too loud, but I don’t hear them approaching. If they’re on a bike or roller blades, they come up on me quickly, and I usually get startled and jump out of the way. Obviously, there’s a risk of injury to both them and myself.

In broad daylight, I seldom think of the dangers that might be lurking where I run. Every once in a while, you see a news story about a runner (usually female) who has been abducted or murdered. This typically happens later in the evening or very early morning. This points to the advantages of avoiding a run during these times. However, sometimes I’m just don’t have time to run in the middle of the day — especially in times of the year when daylight is not that plentiful. When I run early morning or in the evening (at dusk), I know it’s important to be more aware of my surroundings. This means no headphones!

I also have come to realize that sometimes silence on a run can be useful. Although music is motivating, running without music may help me to listen to my body and tune in to any potential trouble signs. I also find that it’s beneficial to turn off the music and pay more attention to my breathing. This helps me to judge if I am running hard enough to meet my goals or if I could kick it up a notch. The silence can also bring a feeling of peace that running with my I-Pod can’t.

Although music devices have become less cumbersome in recent years, I can’t say that same thing about headphones. For a three mile run, my headphones don’t cause me any discomfort. However, if I’m out running eight or ten miles, I find that my headphones can actually make my ears ache. I sometimes take them out and carry them, but I find it annoying to have to worry about them if they’re not in my ears.

I wear my headphones and listen to music while running about 80% of the time. I will probably continue to do so. Yet, I find that there are times in which I should leave the I-Pod at home. More and more, I am realizing that the silence is a nice, and safe, change of pace.