Sound vs Silence

To run with music or without? Join the debate

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06/06/2008 at 17:04

I am trying to reach an impartial conclusion of my own....

From October last year till this March, I ran exclusively with an iPod and Nike+. Both in traning AND in races. The last couple of months, i've run without headphones or music.

 I'll let you all know what I eventually decide. 

06/06/2008 at 17:09

Yeah I think it was predictible what would happen with this thread!!

I'm all for people doing what they want - unless they start becoming a danger or spoiling the enjoyment of others.  However - I've yet to see any evidence that the danger is increased.  Sure - there are anecdotes, but that's by no means conclusive.  How does anyone know that the iPod wearer who bumped them wouldn't have bumped them anyway? Running Commentary doesn't like people citing anecdotes of non-iPod wearers bumping into people, and yet has be provided any more evidence?  I haven't seen it - just anecdotes.

That really isn't the same as the argument for smoking that "well I know people who smoked who lived to 100" or "I know a non-smoker who died of cancer".  There is non-anecdotal evidence that smoking leads to a far higher incidence of cancer, and as yet I've yet to see that for iPods - and FWIW it's not my gut feeling from taking part in and spectating in races either.

From a safety point of view  I would be a bit worried about not being able to hear marshalls' instructions - but in most of the races I've done marshalls just cheer you on and point, neither which is essential.  I'd personally be a bit more worried about a race involving laps where runners need to hear instructions to move over to led the leaders through, or where the route crosses a main road such as the Kingston runs in spring and autumn.

FWIW I don't actually wear an iPod on any runs - I'm really only entering the thread because I think some of the arguments put forward are flawed.  And while I'm on that topic - if you think running with an iPod could be a danger to other people in a race, how is it not if you're on a training run?  If you believe that an iPod means you can swerve makes you more of a risk to swerve in front of another runner, wouldn't you be at risk of moving out in front of a cyclist (for instance) causing them to fall off, or swerve in front of a car? 

06/06/2008 at 17:13
I wear an MP3 player for longer runs, but for shorter runs ie up to 40-50 minutes I don't bother, In this years London Marathon I wore my player for the last 6 miles, I had a carefully selected playlist and it helped me through the hardest part of the run.
06/06/2008 at 18:24

I agree with the comment above that it would be a shame to miss out on the atmosphere of a race by wearing an MP3. 

If I'm running cross-country through fields, woods, etc, I prefer silence as running in the countryside is sheer joy.  However, sometimes i do shorter, faster runs on the ugly, car-ridden streets in my local town and then I like to have some loud and fast on my ipod to help with speed and to blot out the ugly surroundings.

06/06/2008 at 18:59
The argument about deaf runners was dealt with at the start of this thread, if people would care to read back a bit!
06/06/2008 at 19:23

well said bear,

mutley, if people keep trying to use the argument about hearing/understanding a marshall, the issue is still valid. i use the understand because, i know most mp3 wearers hear me when i shout, as in multiple lap races, when overtaking backmarkers. 

Do they understand? that i am not sure about.

06/06/2008 at 19:27

Sorry Muttley but no it hasn't.

Your whole argument for banning ipods/MP3 players was that they are a danger because you cannot hear.

Bringing your argument to its logical conclusion, you ban everyone who cannot hear as they are a danger.

I'm sorry but just face up to the fact that this is predjudice.

I aint gonna go away just to make you feel good about yourself.

Sorry !!

06/06/2008 at 19:27

I have and have not worn an MP3 in the past but I do not generally wear one now.

 I started wearing one running in a city but I do not and have never worn one running in the countryside.

I would say that I am a goal focussed runner and I enjoy running towards the goal that I have set myself at any point in time. The only sounds I like to hear are the beeps from my Garmin GPS telling me that I am out of my selected pace range.

06/06/2008 at 19:34
Can't hear them either.
06/06/2008 at 19:48
donnacha wrote (see)

If you are listening to music rather than your body when you are running  how do you know if you are training or overtraining?

If music is affecting the tempo of your run then you are not in control of you training. The music is dictating the pace you run at then it is making you run too fast or too slow.


I use a heart rate monitor as well as my music player. Then i know exactly what my bodies doing. But my body tells me if i'm doing too much anyway, it's a feeling.

06/06/2008 at 19:55

Quote from what I posted earlier:

"It's a shame to see Muzzy persisting with his line that opponents of iPods are opponents of deaf runners. They're not, and have never said they are. Enforced silence (or tinnitis or whatever) from hearing loss is one thing; voluntary distraction through headphones something entirely different. The former is not a safety issue, the latter is. Or rather, the former is a safety issue but it's one its sufferers are aware of and can compensate for. "

I don't like being accused of prejudice.

Muzzy, you've got a chip on your shoulder. Go bury it somewhere.  

06/06/2008 at 20:12

On the ipods Vs deaf runners issue, I would hazard a guess that a deaf is more tuned in to their environment than an ipod wearer, and have adapted their other senses to cope with their situation in everyday life, whereas the ipod wearer certainly wouldn't have. But agree it's probably marginal and yes, neither of them can necessarily hear a marshal's instructions.

In terms of 'banning' one or the other from races. Well, if the argument is from a safety perspective, the race organiser is essentially trying to LIMIT the likely risk of accidents, runners going off course because they couldn't hear the marshals etc etc. They certainly can't eliminate the risk all together.

While I'm sure there are plenty of deaf runners, the number at any one race is likely to be an insignificant proportion. Ipod wearers on the other hand are obviously much more significant in number, so an ban on their use is going to have a significant impact on limiting any risk.

There's obviously a separate debate as to whether there is indeed a safety issue of wearing ipods as opposed to not, and as most people have said, the evidence is anecdotal. Personally, I think the safety argument is quite a thin one and, in races where ipods are banned, I don't think safety has necessarily been stated as the reason.

My dislike of ipods is from the angle of a race being primarily a competitive, sporting event, whether you're at the front of the field competing to win or at the back of the field striving for your own personal acheivement and pb, blah blah blah... Plus the fact that they are technically disallowed anyway, whether or not race organisers choose to enforce the rule.

06/06/2008 at 20:16

Muzzy - in a few years if they invent DVD goggles which enabled you to have a 3D experience of films just by wearing glasses and runners used them to distract (yep unbelievable but bear with me) and there was this argument ........... but over sight?

I would argue that overcoming a sensory loss like sight and running with a guide is fantastic and to be supported/applauded.

I would also argue that a runner choosing to wear goggles to watch a film should be asked not to...........whilst racing

(what they do in their own training if it doesn't pose a risk to others is up to them) 

Is that not the same argument that has been made about iplodders and deaf runners ?    

I've not seen anyone say that runners with hearing loss shouldn't run/race. Many people have indicated how they're more likely to be aware of their surroundings that the iplodder ?

06/06/2008 at 20:19
If someone said that runners with sight or hearing loss shouldn't race/run I'd be right beside you in being angry about it ?
06/06/2008 at 20:25

I think running without sight is going to have far more of an effect that running without being able to hear, so I don't really think it's a valid analogy.

If a deaf person can compensate for a loss of hearing, why can't someone wearing an iPod?  Granted they won't have had as much practice, but I wouldn't have thought it required a great deal of skill to look round before moving across.  I do that anyway even though I don't run with earphones - I think in a closely packed field I wouldn't be able to tell with all the feet hitting the ground if there was someone coming up on me. 

06/06/2008 at 20:54

If a deaf person can compensate for a loss of hearing, why can't someone wearing an iPod? 

They can always take the earphones out and therefore stop impairing their hearing (to whatever extent they do) Deaf or hearing impaired people dont have the luxury of that choice!

And no i dont think deaf runners should be prevented from racing - deafness isnt a lifestyle choice like listening to music through headphones is

06/06/2008 at 21:24
yes they can Buney, but that doesn't answer my question.
06/06/2008 at 21:59

Yikes, as a person new to running, this thread is pretty scary.  Didn't realise there was so much bad feeling out there to those that run with music, of which I am one.  I run to music because I enjoy it,  I enjoy selecting playlists to run to, and its the one time I get to listen to what I want to listen to. I mainly run on my own and then use it all the time, when running with friends we chat, but I keep the headphones in 1 ear as I use the Nike+ system so we use it for time and distance purposes when trying out new routes etc.  I still appreciate my surroundings , am aware of whats going on around me and acknowledge all runners/cyclists/pedestrians on my route. I do that anyway as a matter of good manners, funnily enough some people did not return the courtesy and you've now all got me thinking that perhaps it was disapproval rather than bad manners on their part! I completed my first 10k a few weeks ago, with my music. I was not told that you were not allowed to race with headphones in, and until now was not aware of what a contentious issue this is - the marshalls were all friendly, still chatted to me and gave me words of encouragement, that I could hear perfectly well, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  I took up running to loose weight and keep fit , and because it was so inclusive. I hope I was not wrong in the impression I had .

To each there own

06/06/2008 at 22:03

well Bear a lot of people who run with music say their hearing  isn't impaired by it so dont consider how they may compensate for it?

whereas I imagine deaf or hearing impaired people spend much of their  lives compensating for not being able to hear ..thankfully i am very lucky to be able to hear - although i now sometimes struggle to hear conversations in noisy busy places like pubs and put that down to a misspent youth of listening to a walkman too loud and too much clubbing

I also think there is a huge difference to listening to external sounds and having concentrated sound "in ear" With the former there are many layers of sounds - near/distant/background- different volumes pitches etc - with in ear sound the primary sound is that from the device and other sounds are sometimes blocked out or muffled - so i can listen to the rafio and watch tv and hear the phone ring but if i had headphones in/on then the other sounds are not as clear -especially if i am absorbed  in or trying to concentrate on what is coming thru the headphones (Im watching tv at the moment and can still hear birdsong outside despite the sound of my keyboard bashing!)

my personal take is that people can choose to run/train with music if they want but race organisers can also choose to outlaw music players  and people then have the option to particpate or not

Edited: 06/06/2008 at 22:04
06/06/2008 at 22:21
Bear - Not going to argue which sense is more of a loss but take your point.......... my analogy was not meant to compare running with either loss but Muzzy's take on the argument of deaf = ipod user = not allowed to run.
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