Of all the non-essential gears used for running, few command as much debate and disagreement as jogging headphones. On the one side, there are people who argue that jogging headphones are nothing more than distractions to running and that they strip the essence of a good road run because you now focus on the music instead of the experience. On the other hand, there are runners who swear by the power of jogging headphones as an effective method to push them farther for longer.
So which is the better option for you? What situations would it be advantageous to consider running with headphones and what situations require that you lock in on the road without the benefit of music in your ears?
Well, first, jogging headphones boil down to a matter of personal preference, particularly in training. Some people, for example, get quickly bored with the monotonous routine of running on a treadmill or on a track field. For them, jogging headphones become an automatic necessity. Moreover, there are plenty of studies that show running with music can significantly improve one’s performance as it helps you overcome fatigue longer. Fast beats are also often used by many runners as a way to maintain cadence when running as it allows them to settle into a rhythm when they run.
However, not all situations suit the idea of wearing jogging headphones. For example, running on roads with even a small amount of traffic requires focus, concentration, and a heightened awareness of one’s surroundings. This can quickly negate the benefit of using earphones. There are actually many races in the United States and around the world that bans the use of headphones for exactly the same reasons. When safety is of paramount concern, the benefit of music for establishing rhythm and boosting endurance becomes secondary.
In summary, it’s favorable to have jogging headphones in your arsenal of jogging accessories for those all important moments when earphones become indispensable. When in competition remember to check with the race rules if headphones are permitted or not. Likewise, a little bit of personal discipline is also necessary to forcibly say “no” to earphones if you are going on a road run in less-than-ideal conditions. Traffic, questionable weather, reduced visibility due to dark areas all necessitate a departure from the comfort of jogging headphones and you should have the gumption to say “no” to music when running in these conditions.
Last, it is important to select jogging headphones that will last long and retain the same level of performance as they did on the day they were bought. This, in itself, requires a separate discussion but there are general reminders that you can go by. Sweat-resistant headphones, for example, are highly recommended. Rubberized wires as opposed to plastic ones are also advantageous since these are more resistant to being inadvertently pulled when accidentally hit by your hand. Also remember, that cost isn’t always the best way to choose jogging headphones, so you don’t get obsessed with finding the priciest pair on the market.
Jogging headphones are largely a personal decision. As long as you give it thorough thought and remember to use them wisely, you are sure to enjoy the benefits of running with sweet music in your ears.