Or do they?
Whether runners should utilize headphones or not for outdoor training has been a long standing debate among running enthusiasts for years. While training with my boyfriend for our first half marathon I was completely peeved he trained with headphones on. Me: post-college athlete and fitness junkie; Him: life time surfer who consistently rides first class on (as he says) the no-stress-express.
I got frustrated as I didn’t think he took our training seriously nor did I feel he kept on track with our pace as he would speed up and slow down during training sessions (attributed to his headphones of course!). However, in the midst of my snobby-runner mindset, I stopped and realized the importance of our goal: have fun together, oh and finish our first race.
Therefore, rather than persuade him to run without headphones I presented him the pros and cons of running outdoors with headphones which can assist other running gurus and novice alike.
Pros – perfect running assistant for gym training, prevents earaches when running outdoors, musical companion to combat head trash, allows runners to kill two birds with one stone: finish that audio book you’ve been dying to complete and workout.
Cons – huge safety hazard because headphones eliminate one of your most vital senses: sound. Runners can’t hear untamed dogs, screeching traffic, honking horns and unwanted physical attention. Your focus can be drawn to the music in your ears rather than your physical surroundings, such as a raised sidewalk path.The pressure of headphones can also produce headaches, reduces your chance to converse with your training buddy and eliminates the enjoyment of a quiet trail. Lastly, if you’re training, training runs are meant to prepare and simulate race day and some runs don’t allow headphones on race day.
Alternatives – Can’t part with headphones? Workout indoors. If you run outdoors run with one ear bud out or run with your phone strapped to your arm playing music without the use of headphones (stream Pandora if you’d like). Choose songs with similar BPM (Beats per minute). For example, in your play list don’t choose LMFAO’s Party Rock followed with Adele’s Chasing Pavements. It could affect your pace (and annoy your training partner). Create a play list specifically for your workout and cool down.
Exception – Deaf runners are the exception and hopefully they train outdoors with at least two additional hearing runners who can prevent running hazards by guiding the front and back of a training group.
Outlining the pros and cons of running with headphones with my boyfriend released me from my long time notion that real runners don’t use headphones. And, since I fully disclosed the hazards of running outdoors with headphones I wouldn’t feel as bad for his misfortune if he happened to get hit, bit or snatched by something or someone (joking of course).
What are some of your thoughts on running with headphones? I’d love to hear your feedback.