The Everyman: Can You Hear Me?

shutterstock_146015186-631x421If you can’t, then you’re probably running with your music too loud.

It’s a debate that will probably go on forever: Running with music vs. running without it. Both sides have solid arguments and I’m not here to say anyone is wrong.

But what I am going to do is fire off a warning to those that run with music: Turn it down.

I’m lucky enough to live close to a paved biking/running trail that stretches for roughly 45 miles. It’s connected to other paths as it heads east to Washington, D.C., making it possible to easily ride my bike (or go for an epic ultrarun, which I’ll never do) to the nation’s capital from where I live.

Being a triathlete, I’m outside 4-5 times a week for a ride or a run. Often I find myself on the trail, which is flat but is a great way to get in some mileage. It’s also a good connecting route to take before heading out on the roads to do some climbing on the bike.

Some days I’ll pass more than a hundred runners on the trail. Almost all of them are plugged in, listening to music as they pound the pavement. And nearly every time, my warning of “On your left!” as I cruise past them on my bike doesn’t get through the sounds of Jay-Z or Kid Rock or, in my case if I were to use music on a run, Alan Jackson (don’t judge).

That’s what I call a dangerous situation.

I used to be a card-carrying member of the listening-to-music-during-a-run club, but I’ve abandoned the practice for a variety of reasons. I’ve grown to enjoy hearing my footfalls in rhythmic fashion. It’s like my own personal metronome, although it’s typically set to shuffle (cadence? Yeah, I’m working on that).

It sounds corny and silly and cliché, but I like being outside and enjoying my run for what it is. Music doesn’t fall into that bucket.

Safety is another factor — I live on a secondary road where cars whiz by in excess of 40 mph, so it’s nice to be able to at least hear them coming.

It doesn’t matter to me if you run with headphones, run while playing a guitar or a tuba, or run with a giant marching band drum strapped to your chest. All I ask is that you keep the volume low enough so that if someone (or something, in the case of a car) is passing, you can hear.

But do yourself a favor and try running without music.

You might like it.

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source: Competitor by Jason Devaney

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Categories: Runners, Sports

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3 replies

  1. I run with music, but on the run up to a race I try to phase it out, as most don’t allow it and I don’t want to become dependant. It’s mostly just to stop me getting bored. Absolutely right on the volume.

  2. I totally agree with the volume issue! When I was a novice runner, I HAD to have music or couldn’t survive any distance really. Then I started participating in longer races where music wasn’t allowed (for example, a duathlon and then a triathlon). So lately I’ve been running with no headphones, just music at a low volume on my armband, and I am much more aware of my surroundings – cyclists, animals, etc. Side note: One thing that helped me tremendously when biking is my bell – no more yelling “on your left” every 2 minutes, and the bell seems to be at a good pitch to get people’s attention without startling them. I enjoyed your post!

  3. Sometimes music is needed so you won’t get bored (elliptical at the gym, zzz) but when it comes to running or biking outside, it might not be necessary. It could be dangerous when people are near cars or in a lonely trail, the chance of getting hit by a car or attacked by a person or animal is pretty big since you can’t hear your surroundings. So it is definitely important to know who is around you when exercising outside. Thanks for posting, great advice 🙂

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