“I can’t hear you, my music is too loud,” said the girl to her friend during the Baltimore 10 Miler.
The running-with-headphones debate has probably been around as long as there have been portable music players, but it’s definitely been at the forefront the last few years.
I usually don’t run with music, mainly because I usually run with people. It feels antisocial to play music. We usually talk throughout our run, and even though I could always leave an earbud out, I’d just as soon run without.
I’ve gotten so used to running without music that sometimes I forget it when I’m running alone. I don’t mind listening to my footsteps, but music surely does make the time go by faster and help keep you moving. Whenever I’m running in roads, I only use one earbud to make sure I can hear traffic and people around me. Safety first!
Headphones are often banned from races, but I rarely see it enforced. (Though I have spoken with a race director who says she has disqualified people after giving them a warning.) I always go without during races — you definitely miss out on the atmosphere, especially if there are bands on the course!
Recently, a friend was trying to pace off me for a half marathon since she has a history of going out too fast. She was with me for the first four miles or so (that were downhill), but my pace slowed as we started climbing. She kept going, but didn’t realize she left me in the dust since she had her iPod playing. Later, she ran out of steam. I passed her walking near mile 10, and ended up beating her by eight minutes.
I’ve tried to start conversations with runners wearing Maryland shirts when I’ve traveled to races, only to have them not hear me. And in races twice this spring, I witnessed music-listening runners have to be grabbed by other runners to get out of the way of emergency vehicles. One time, it was a closed course and the vehicle was a cart transporting an injured runner. The other, though, the roads were open and she was running beyond the traffic cones. Very dangerous!
If you always run with music, give it a break one day. Sometimes it’s nice to listen to nature!
And if you must wear headphones on roads or in races, please be careful. Make sure you can hear what’s going on around you!