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5 reasons why we don’t run with headphones


Today, we thought we’d open up a can of worms and explain why we don’t run with headphones. You can also read that as why we don’t listen to music while we run.

Of course, we know all the arguments about the benefits of running with music and that it can help you improve. And we are also sympathetic to those who fight the tedium of long runs by listening to podcasts.

But for us, earbuds can be a mixed bag, and we opt to leave them at home when we head out on our runs. Here’s why?



By far, this is the foremost issue on our mind when running. We have to be aware of our surroundings, which involves listening for approaching vehicles or perhaps a dog that’s chasing you. In our mind, it’s already difficult enough to pay attention to traffic, and we don’t need the distraction of music to add to it. In addition, we recently listened to the Runner’s Connect podcast that was all about personal safety and keeping yourself from becoming a victim of violence while running. In short: If you’re listening to music, your less apt to hear traffic or someone who intends to mug or assault you. This is reason enough for us to go without the earbuds.


Does any pair of earbuds really stay in your ear?

Maybe it’s the shape of our ears, but we can’t find a pair of earbuds that will actually stay in for an extended period of time, even when we’re sitting in a coffee shop writing a blog post. The only time we’ve tried running with music has been on the treadmill, and one of those earbuds inevitably slips out. And despite repeated attempts to jam it in place, it keeps coming out. Sure, we could pipe the music through the speakers on the treadmill, which is great until you run at 9:30 p.m. and you have to crank up the volume to hear over the noise of the treadmill and your kids are trying to get to sleep.

Maybe there’s a pair on the market that won’t slip out, but we’re too cheap to shell out $150 — or more — on the chance that they will work. Besides, when we’re running outside, it’s a safety issue as we said above.


Time to reflect and let our mind wander

For us, running is cathartic because we have time to ourselves just to think and daydream and let our minds wander. Sometimes we’re thinking about how this is a great run and we feel so good and it will never get any better. And then some days, we think about how this hill just sucks, and it’s too hot and humid and why do I do this? Running also clears our minds, and we think about projects at work and comes up with ideas to present to our clients. Other times, we plan out our dinner menu for the week. And then we’re back to how great this workout is and we’re going to rock it at the next race and get a PR. Listening to music or podcasts would be a distraction from these thoughts that ultimately help to clear our mind.


Stay in tune with our body

No one’s going to argue that running is a physical sport, but there’s something metaphysical about it,  too. Perhaps it’s hokey and too hard to explain or understand, but we like listening to the sound of our Asics hitting the pavement or gravel. And we tune into our breathing, paying attention to how it gets harder or easier depending on the conditions and how hard our workout is. As with letting our minds wander, music or podcasts become a distraction to staying in tune with our body.


Music gets to be too much

We’ve never tried listening to music while running outside, but there was a time as we noted above where we plugged in on the treadmill. That particular time, everything was working — the earbuds stayed in, and we were running at a nice pace. And then about 20 minutes into the run, the music suddenly became too much and annoying. Perhaps it was related to the last topic about staying in tune with our body, but it was visceral reaction to the music. We ripped out the earbuds and turned the music off. That was about 2 years ago, and we haven’t tried music again since then.