I am an avid music listener when I run. Actually the last three words are unnecessary. I’m an avid music listener. I love though, that on a run I have all that time to myself to listen to music uninterrupted and undisturbed. Yes, I have small children, how did you know?
I have playlists for speed runs, I have playlists for long runs, I have playlists for races and I have a Christmas playlist which I listen to all year round, BECAUSE I CAN and it’s awesome.
I have gone through all sorts of headphones, the one’s Apple and Samsung gave me (depending on what phone I’m using), noise reduction headphones developed for Sport and pretty much any other kind of headphones that I saw that looked like they might be good, or pretty. I’m a fan of pretty.
You know what I’m also a fan of? Safe. As someone who does the vast majority of my runs on a highway in low light, safety is pretty important. Me running on narrow shoulders at dawn with cars zooming past keeps my mother and my husband up nights. Well maybe not up, but concerned at least. And one of the big things with safety and road running is not about reflective clothing, it’s about having headphones that will let in enough ambient noise that if a big mack truck is coming up behind you, you will actually hear it.
If I was to rate most important features of headphones they would go like this:
1) Ambient noise – noise reduction is great but it is no good for running and has anyone else noticed how if you use noise reduction headphones you can actually hear your own pulse. It’s very disconcerting.
2) Won’t fall out – any adjustment of headphones on a run is too much. You just don’t want to spend any time thinking about it. And once you are really sweating, that’s a pretty tough ask.
3) Sound quality – I don’t want to hear static (yep that has happened even with new headphones), have connection issues where the sound goes in and out (yep, that’s happened too) but I do want to hear nice, clear sound.
The Test Run
If you are going to test out new headphones, I figure that a 25km trail run with an 860m ascent is going to be a pretty good place to start. You need to be able to hear runners around you so you don’t cause a pile up situation, you are going to sweat more than you do on any road run and if anything would cause them to fall out it would be heartbreak hill. Which I have to say is a million times worse than it looks in this photo. Photos really don’t do gradients any justice.
Did not fall out. Not even once. Not even when I fell over and grazed both of my knees. I was able to hear all the runners around me with no trouble. On a tough 25km course it was nice to have my crystal clear music with me, particularly when I was having thoughts like ‘how do I even get up that/down that/across that’. Because no one wants to listen to their own hard breathing for four hours.
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