Sound vs Silence

To run with music or without? Join the debate

381 to 400 of 527 messages
25/06/2008 at 12:09

I don't believe you can race effectively with music. If you need the rhythm, then get it stuck in your head beforehand, or count to yourself. You need to be able to hear what your competitors are doing, and what marshalls are telling you.

Music can also stop you achieving a better time - you get stuck into a beat or a rhythm when you may actually be able to run faster. It's also important to be able to hear yourself - you should be absolutely in tune with your breathing to hear how hard you're working.

To the people who have said that their own breathing puts them off, you need to embrace that - you need to know how your breathing sounds when you're working at different paces - when you can speed up and when you need to back off, And similarly, you need to hear what the people around you sound like - if they're struggling, push on, pick your moment to get rid of them. On the other hand, if they sound like they're about to have an asthma attack you might want to look across and check they're ok or offer them a word of support.

 Running with headphones is not only dangerous for you, but also for other people - I find people running with headphones are often completely incapable of running in a straight line, meaning you end up running straight into the back of them. This is particularly annoyin in races which have laps, when the faster runners are trying to get past.

 The appropriate use for MP3s is for track sessions when you have the track to yourself, or for sessions around a field where you are safe and on your own or with very few other field users. The rest of the time you need to be able to hear cars, cyclists, potential muggers/rapists, cows, marshalls, members of the public, other runners etc etc etc... and the MP3 is best left at home or in the car.

25/06/2008 at 13:53

I don't think I would have started or continued running if I didn't have my ipod - it definately helps relieve boredom and keeps the spirits up on long runs.

 When I am in a race I don't have the volume so loud that I can't hear the crowd or other people - but there is not always support all the way along the route and the music really helps on the quiet stretches.

 As for the safety issue i am still aware of other people around me and there are lots of people who push past or run into people or stop dead who may or may not be wearing headphones - they are just rude people.

When training i also like to have earphones in so that when I get comments from scallies and white van drivers (which I do hear as I don't have the volume high) i can pretend I haven't noticed them.

the number of people participating in running events has massively increased over the last few years and I think this has a lot to do with mp3 players and being able to listen to music on the go - surely this is a good thing.

25/06/2008 at 18:42
Im a ipod girly .. and love it! its the best invention ever.. sometimes i dont wear it .. sometimes a chat to my other running friends but i almost never ever have it up loud!

I always remember being shouted at by a cyclist who pinted to his ears ..what he didnt understand .. the pl*nker!! was i wanst listening to anything at the time.. and I 99% of the time have it on low so i can be aware of whats going on in the world..

Really! what is the world coming to!!! limey ! theres a lot worse out there .. expect the police will be able to arrest us soon!

what about all the other distractions... like eating on a run!!! i had a banana skin thrown at me in a race recently!

25/06/2008 at 20:38

i think most runners on here seem to be missing a point - which is not everyone is a world class runner - some of us find even the shortest (!) of races 5k - 10k to be a huge effort and need the comfort of music or similar to keep us motivated. 

 As runners we should all be keen to encourage as many other people as possible to take up running, get fit and add to the growing numbersat events we attend.  If this means allowing people less comfortable with running to listen to music then so be it.  From personal experience - before i bought my ipod and nike+ kit I hadn't run for 15 years (since school) and i would never have taken it up without my ipod

Bearing in mind my nike+ kit cost me £35 compared to something like the forerunner whoch would cost me £250 and you start to build a compelling case as to why the nike+ and ipod makes so much sense

i'm not saying music is for everyone - but i think it's up to me to be allowed to make the choice for myself

25/06/2008 at 23:35
Is this a pointless debate?

UK Athletic Rules ban MP3 players at races due to the fact you cannot hear the marshals or fellow runners.

They are dangerous and have no place at races.

26/06/2008 at 09:26


I have just been skim-reading the 198 page UKA Rulebook and couldn't see any reference to mp3, what section is it under?

26/06/2008 at 09:38

Windmiler - I thought it was still under discussion?

Chestfield  - if they have decided it won't be in the edition of the rulebook you have, because it's only been very recently (ie since I've been out of touch with Athletics Weeky).

26/06/2008 at 14:04
I can't see Nike bringing out the Nike+ system to fit our iPods if they thought there was a chance that they may be banned at races. I love the fact that I can track my runs, get Lance Armstrong's dulcet tones in my ears and listen to Queen if I like to. I am running it is my choice. There are always those ignorant runners who cut you up or stop dead in front of you - ipods don't cause that.

I usually run with one ear in so I can hear what is going on, and have the volume gentle. But even if I don't take the headphones (like on club runs with friends) I always take my ipod and my Nike+ so that I can track my run and upload it to Nike's website. I find the positive boost that gives me to see that I have run alost 500 miles since September is amazing and an incredible motivator.

26/06/2008 at 15:05
I guess there are so many conflicting views and strong presentations of such because many people are so competitive and focused that they really will represent their views strongly and perhaps single mindedly.

I used to be in the army and did a lot of running, usually to the dulcet tones of PTI busters. I hated it, but it was part of the "job". No IPOD but plenty of loud bangs that were motivators!!!!

Having got to mid life with a vast waist, lethargy and deep self conscious issues, I started training on a X trainer. i Bought an IPOD to take away the boredom and used to close my eyes and go for it. I fell off once but that was when the retaining bolt on the stand broke!

After getting fit enough to undertake a running regime I bought the Nike Plus attachments and the marketing hype worked as I also bought the Nike Plus compatible Triax shoes.

I went out running. Not fast, not a long distance. Now a year later I go a long distance but not fast, last run was 12.5 miles. Do I find the IPOD a help, goodness yes. For ME, and MY style of getting fit and running to do so, I find I can almost meditate whilst running. I don't enjoy the sound of my inhaling/exhaling breath, but have the volume sufficiently low to hear birds, dogs and the greetings of people as I run around. But loud enough to just make the words out and the tune and to hit the "meditation" threshold where the stresses and strains drain from my overweight carcass as it trundles around. I am not fast, did not set out to be, but I enjoy the running, listening to stuff that I have not heard for a while, etc etc.

For others who need to assess their progress and be highly interactive to the immediate environment around them, then dont use headphones and go for what works for you.

But if we take the many comments about safety that I have read, put it into perpsective. Most of us will have music in the car, F1 drivers don't. Why....... because they are driving in a different way and that is the great thing about running, do two people have exactly the same training regime, well not really, we are all different and respond to stimulus differently as our goals are also so different??!!

However if it gets a fat bloke like me out there, running 12.5 miles in one go now and aiming for a half marathon, how can it be bad to use an IPOD?

Bear in mind too, sight is a sense used for safety and not just guidance..... we don't kjust rely on our ears when out running do we? I continued to run in winter dominantly on a grass track in the dark with the IPOD....... I would not have done that running on the road, as fortunately I can judge and adapt to conditions.

I really fail to see the downside of the IPOD if it suits your needs, and I think the safety element is appropriate in context, but many of the posts I read are out of such context.

26/06/2008 at 16:16


Do you run in races or just train to keep fit, lose weight etc. The reason I ask is that I always had music when running solo, but found the atmosphere, talking to other runners etc during a race meant I did not need an ipod then. 

26/06/2008 at 22:30
Hi Bill,

I initially started running simply to keep fit but have recently entered and completed a 10k, have another one lined up and a half marathon. That said, I wont be doing that many as it was not why I started the running, but thoroughly enjoyed the first one.

I could not really have spoken to anyone during the race due to breathing etc!!!! Well possibly untrue but only slightly!!

I can understand the point though and if it works for you got to be a good thing. I am quite focused and almost anti social when I train, confidence issue funnily enough, I think I am a nice guy and like company, but the running is for ME, and so I kind of skulk away quietly.

What is good for me is the time reminders on the Ipod helps me gauge efforts etc. I do have a Garmin 305 but use that for post run data.

26/06/2008 at 22:43

Sound defenitely sound, low volume in early morning to hear stalkers and who knows...

speed running at lunch or after 6, full blast crazy nonsense hardcore music

 long runs a mix of jazz, blues, rock, and hardcore music at the end

27/06/2008 at 12:49

It has to be an individual choice and Ipod's help some of us keep going, the thing to remember is that most of us who wear ipods often have the volume low or only one ear in especially on races.  So that kind of discounts all the arguments why they should be banned.

The longer the race/training run the more you may need it, I have my ipod on me plugged in and raring to go, then when the going gets tough and I start to flag I put one ear in, it's immediate my pace increases and it's a wonderful motivation tool.  I still know what's going on around me, can still follow instructions, and still know when my training partner is talking to me cause only one ear is plugged in.

Some of us need this option and just based on these I know at my club the people who are really against ipods are the fastest ones, give us slower ones a fighting chance we need all the help we can get. 

27/06/2008 at 14:00

I'm with Loco!!!

Music style and loudness is altered to suit my mood and training. 

Off to bid good day/cross a busy road/when with company. 

Speed sessions: Loud and manic

Long runs: Mellow with a ploddy tempo

When my husband has annoyed me runs: Music with relevant lyrics ('Shut up' Black eyed Peas, 'Foundations' Kate Nash, 'Bitch' Meridith Brooks)  Also works well with a tempo work-out.

To those of you that hate music in your ears.....I feel sad that you can't experience the ultimate relaxation I achieve when I'm plodding along with my favourite tunes and I'm sure you can't understand that your style of running sounds too much like hard work to me......but at the end of the day we are all different.

27/06/2008 at 19:00

There are natural synergies betweeen music and exercise. We are all individuals and should be able to make our own choices. If we run with music it is our responsibility to be aware of our surroundings and to watch out for marshalls who have given up their time to direct and support us.

I would rather listen to music than to runners who feel the need to share their latest times and running injuries / excuses for poor performance. Let's get a life really................... Music also blocks out the flat footed slap/slap, heavy breathing, snorting and other equally attractive traits that we runners have.

Banning music - what will be next!!?? - Heart Monitors, Deep Heat, Blister plasters, Watches, Energy Gels........

Someone mentioned struggling with their Nike+ I too had problems with mine initially as I don't read instructions properly - now 4 runs later it is the best thing I have purchased - other than my Ipod and Sennheiser ear phones!!

Happy safe running!!

28/06/2008 at 16:08
I have only read the first and last few entries on this thread, and would tend to agree with Shenders entry on 24th june.

I personally use music when I train alone, but would not dream of using one when I am running with others, either training or racing.

There is absolutely no health and safety reason for banning MP3's, and you do not 'need' to hear other people running around you. It is very much up to the individual wearing the headphones to make sure they are aware of what is going on around them, and make sure there is no-one about to overtake them before they stop or move to the right or left, and if the organisers do not feel that they can trust everyone to observe this basic etiquette, then they are entitled to ban MP3s, but as has been pointed out earlier in the thread this should be made clear before people have handed their money over and entered.

As for those people who say they 'cannot' run without music, this is just like Dumbo thinking he couldn't fly without a feather. Everyone can run without music.... how did they manage before MP3s were invented? If you prefer using music just say so, don't act as though your legs suddenly stop working unless you have some headphones plugged in.

Running is one of the few sports where everyone can take part, whatever their ability, but to read some of the comments within this thread it seems that some people would rather this was not the case, I can't believe everyone has had that many problems with people wearing headphones in races, I run regularly and I can't remember a single time when anyone has cut across me.

In summary, lighten up.... let those people who enjoy running with music continue to do so, and those who don't can also enjoy running without it.
28/06/2008 at 16:35
Perhaps the huge interest in running by people of all backgrounds, all shapes and sizes and ages will mean those who make the rules will need to tighten up the rules. A 'fun run' might allow MPS/Ipod/mobile phones/cameras, fancy dress,diving suits,stilts or what have you and a 'race' might be defined without such items. Accessories are becoming a hazard as the user loses awareness of what is happening around them. I would guess that most of those runners' are not racing in the sense of doing the best effort that they can on the day. I am not knocking their efforts or reasons for running and I do accept them as runners'. I do think that charity runners need only name their sponsor on a T-shirt,vest or cap and can join a 'race' anything more should consign them to a 'fun run'.
28/06/2008 at 21:49

That is a very fair point about runners with accesories such as Ostrich outfit, etc etc, but it is still a race and as you say you acccept them as runners, the difference being the motivation is different, i.e. probably not to win but to finish......

I could see those intent on pitching themselves as "intent on winning" could be disadvantaged by the outfits and the like. However, never seen anyone at the Olympic marathon in a Gorilla suit.....!!

Maybe semantics and event oriented but I think you raised a fair point in general terms, if your pitching up to a race, the organisers should make it clear what is permissible, you can then make your mind up about taking part, but it should still be a race in my view.

I sincerely believe on the music side, if it helps YOU, then have it!Be sensible and risk aware, have the volume appropriately set and you will be fine. There are just as many people so focused that they will not be receptive to much sound around them anyway, music or not!


28/06/2008 at 22:50
I am pleased that you saw some merit in my comments as I do in your thoughts and others' comments on this subject.
I don't think I have ever noticed much of a problem up to 10K. Competitors in major city half marathons and marathons which tend to have large entries are meeting problems. Nothing worse than somebody stopping in front of you to take a photo or take/make a telephone call!
One point of view might be to avoid the big city events and have a better chance of a pb at a smaller event.
Your own view I can happily read both ways such as Flora London Marathon organisers say anything goes so the more serious runners' need to make up their mind about taking part. If FLM adopted a more safety concious code it would be for 'fun runners' to make up their minds if they still felt it worth while running without certain accessories.
I think running is excellent sport for general fitness and nobody is obliged to take part in a race.
28/06/2008 at 23:17
actually .. i'd like to add another thing to all us ipod "fans".. for us over 40yr olds.. just ocassionally it like being back at a disco again.. you know... being 18 years old again... i dont think thre's many teensthat would aprove of a 43 year old joining them on the dance floor!

so but for the "oldies" amongst us (double quotes!!!) ... give us a all a break!

otherwise we may be joining you youngsters
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