Sound vs Silence

To run with music or without? Join the debate

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03/06/2008 at 09:45

Those crotcheted ear muffs on the first page........CatherineRW......have you been busy lately?!?

03/06/2008 at 10:04

Personally though I think this is pretty much a pointless debate, as there will always be a differing of opinions. Some peeps like music, some dont - lots of excellent market research for Nike!

Whether ipods should be allowed in races is a different matter.

There is a POTENTIAL safety issue for sure - ive been cycling and rung my bell to alert response due ot headphones. (this is on country lanes no pavement!). There are of course other safety issues that are assocaited - especially getting 'jumped' by someone.

Only time I use music when I run is the rare occasions when I run on a treadmill, and that is to get rid of the gym muzak.

I dont think it is an age thing at I have been to loads of gigs, always have the radio on at home, listen to music in the car. Whereas I know older people who have rarely been to gigs and always choose to run with music.

03/06/2008 at 10:45

I run with headphones all the time, and I race with them too. No one will stop me running with them because thats how I like to run.

The problems raised by posters such as runners being careless with music, not being sociable etc, none of them have any real point to them.

Is it just me that doesnt actually want to have a in depth conversation when Im racing? When I have raced without music no one talks anyway, everyones trying too hard, and when theres someone I know near me how difficult is it for me to turn it off for a few mins, not very. So this argument is rubbish, ban stupid watches that beep all the time to set your pace, I dont want to listen to your beep every second, or the random people who wear a bean bag on their shoe so they can hear their pace. Now this is annoying.

As for being less aware and careless, I take more care because I am sensible enough to know that I can't hear. I always check to see if Im cutting people up in races, but theres a difference between taking the racing line and cutting up, non music runners cut you up as well. But what about those people who in races and on the roads are too busy looking at their watches, too busy chatting, etc to notice me coming behind them (this happens a lot) this is just as bad, but you wont want to outlaw watches or talking will you.

I think I need a run now.............           with music

03/06/2008 at 10:52
Hmmm....echo some previous points...for someone to whom music is anathema to their spirit is not really a fair choice. For a focussed runner who never uses music it might broaden their thinking so got/to feel for Steve S. I run with/to music when in the gym, occassionally outside if I need some extra motivation, if it's a dreary day or want to focus on a certain type of run. Idon't run with music if it's a good day in my head, heart or with the weather. I never race to music, especially mass events. I believe that it would be 1)A distraction from focussing totally on performance or the event 2) Disrespectful to others at mass events and 3) Not in the spirit of why I've turned up to any race and that's before we consider the HASAW police.
I think the vote is too narrow for a straightforward yes or no to sound or silence as I know others too, who mix and match running to music or silence as mood or circumstance dictate
03/06/2008 at 11:10


I've been reading through all the previous comments.  I can't see the problem with listening to music whilst running. 

As a rule, if i'm running at night, I don't listen to anything, as my safety matters more than anything. 

When I did the Bupa 10K, I did listen (& got Very wet), but stayed to the side of the road, so people could pass safely. 

I run by myself, I don't have it on too loud, but (I'm pretty new to running) it encourages me to pick up or slow down depending on the trace I am listening to.  When I am tired, I put on a track that I find uplifting and my legs seems to listen.

I think it's all about consideration for others, and not weather you listen to music or not!

03/06/2008 at 11:18
You'd think that Nike would have been interested in this stuff BEFORE they went into bed with apple and Nike+ed their entire shoe range...
03/06/2008 at 11:19

Peter, I am not quite sure how you can say that runners with music on being careless is an issue without a real point.

Myself, and others on here have experienced situations, whether at races, or while driving, or as in my case while cycling adn also while out on a training run when someone listening to music has not been aware of my presence. The point is, that as a cyclist when trying to pass it could cause an collision, or as a lone runner someone could very easily be followed and suffer a surprise attack! Ive had pedestrians step out in front of me even when I have rung my bell in cities and thy've not been aware of me as they simply wouldnt have heard me!

As you say you keep aware of what goes on around you, not everyone does - believe me I have seen and experienced it. 

03/06/2008 at 12:27

At the same time there are plenty of situations I have been in where runners without music are just as careless.

 Anywho, point is, music or not, everyone should know more about whats happening around them. I think we can agree on that!

03/06/2008 at 12:33
I'm a non music runner. I do like music and can understand it helps to pass the miles or speed you up. I've never felt the need to add music to my runs as part of my enjoyment is to empty my mind and put the world to rights in my head or chatting if running with someone. My only concern about people who run with headphones is for thier personal safety, but this also applies to people who arent running. The number of times I have passed people and they have been totally unaware that anyone is near them frightens me especially on lonely stretches of roads or paths. But as I said it isnt only runners.
03/06/2008 at 12:40

I have not run with headphones whilst outside for about 10 years since I was to blame for causing a cyclist to crash into the back of me when I failed to hear his audible commands when on a shared cycle path (I think I was engrossed on a football match on 5 live at the time). No real damage was done but it made me realise that when crossing roads, running on country lanes etc,  I rely heavily on sounds when making decisions on when to cross, especially on what may be behind me, and losing even a small percentage of that ability to hear affects my safety and that of others.

 My thoughts are if the volume is low enough to be able to hear everything around you as if you weren't wearing earphones, then the levels must be so quiet as to render them useless; or so quiet that you must have to concentrate even harder just to hear what is being piped through the phones.

I don't buy this don't wear them at night because my safety is more important stuff. Bikes or cars or dogs or muggers don't just come at you from behind when the light has gone - the potential is always there - and if that potential accident causes someone else to be harmed, then does your right to listen to music whilst running mitigate any consequences towards the third party?

 As for racing with headphones - call me an old fashioned purist but I think the sight of 5-10% of a road race field wearing headphones devaules the sporting element of the event. You don't see professional footballers using mp3 players to block the jeers of fans or snooker players break building whilst bopping away to Aphex Twin because 'it keeps me spirits up'. I want my sport to be taken as seriously as football or rugby, not considered a leisure activity where doing well is unimportant and the first question people ask is 'what charity did you run for? or 'what tunes did you have on your iPod?'

Finally - it's interesting to see Runner's World's stance on listening to music whilst running. For as long as I can remember it was always don't run outside with music on as it is a hazard. Now with the likes of Nike, Apple and others pumping millions of pounds into the running industry their tone has lightened. What has happened? Is it now not dangerous to listen to music outside? Have all the cars disappeared from the roads? Or was it never that dangerous in the first place and I am just a bit useless for not being able to run with music outside and be fully aware of my surroundings?

03/06/2008 at 13:09

I am just a bit useless for not being able to run with music outside and be fully aware of my surroundings?

maybe!!  you say a cyclist crashed into you while you were engrossed in five live.  I would say, yes you should have being paying attention - listening to the radio or not.  There are plenty of folks running, walking (swimming - grrr ) who pay NO attention to those around them and see fit to swan about like the whole place belongs to them - and that is without headphones by the way!

03/06/2008 at 13:27

GymAddict - I agree - it's not the headphones that cause the accidents, but it could have a contributory factor. 

NickL unless you shout when you come up behind me I won't hear you - my deafness is such that I can't hear high pitched noises so I can't hear bells but can hear shouts of 'mad cyclist coming through!'.  Mind you the last time I used that phrase the pedestrian slagged me off for not using a bell!

GO-KL - trust me you can have the volume set at a level that is comfortable and audible but still hear traffic or shouted comments. 

Maybe I'm odd (well I know I am) but when I have to cross roads or swerve round objects I always check what's behind, and when I'm running on country lanes I check frequently whether I've got headphones on or not.

03/06/2008 at 13:34

on the point about if races ask you not to wear your headphones, yes fair enough if they say before you pay. two recent races have only said after i booked time off work, arranged my schedule and paid my non refundable money, sorry play fair. 

I find the comments about being social at races interesting and once again we are all different, and each to their own. i don't chat during a race, its not my thing other than the basic what time you going for? and as a rule i am focused on my target.  (If running with freinds/clubmates i do leave it of)

p.s. not wishing to brag, but my best current PB is 1:16 half, not exactly jogging pace and a few of my clubmates would vouch that when the music goes on towards the end, their is a masive surge in pace.  It works for me, mates have tried it and it don't for them.

03/06/2008 at 13:55

As a race director we have made the decision to ban Ipods and MP3 players on health & safety grounds.  This goes out in the race instructions. 

As a runner I probably would use headphones if I was running on my own but in races people wearing them are an absolute menace - they are so zoned out they are completely unaware of people around them.  I have lost count of the times runners have cut across me or even stopped dead to change a tune or fiddle with the wires causing me to trip, stumble or whatever.  I have also been part of a group of runners in a race screaming at a lady in front who was plugged in that a car was behind her - she was completely oblivious!

A word of caution though about headphones while training on your own - BE AWARE of your surroundings - there are people out there who prey on lone runners.

Run Safe

03/06/2008 at 14:33

Although I am an i-plodder through and through there have been several occasions where my lack of hearing has caused me concern and I guess it only fair to consider these;

1. Whilst walking under a subway on my way to the gym it wasn't until my bottom had been stroked several times that I realised there was a cyclist behind me have a feel...I guess he could've done a lot worse but soon cycled off once politely asked to do time I'll take my headphones off before going under a subway and carry a stick to insert into his wheel spokes.

2. Whilst on my two lap route this morning, the first run through the wooded pathway was clear, the second time around there was a tree across my path....think I would've wanted to hear that coming.

 As for being aware someone behind me in a race wants to over-take...I don't get it...if I want to overtake someone I run around I missing some sort of racing etiquette here?? Am I supposed to stop or something? I mean, as long as I'm not wondering across the path and staying in a straight line...what does hearing someone behind me mean??? To be honest, if I could hear someone right behind me I'd probably speed up....

And as for the runner who assumed it was his fault the cyclist crashed into him because he didn't hear him coming....I can't believe you accept responsibility for that!!! Unless his brakes weren't working or something???

03/06/2008 at 14:44

As regards overtaking: I can only speak for myself, but I'm quite happy to move aside or at least tuck my elbows in to let someone pass. If I were a frontrunner I might be less cooperative, but as a midpacker I see no reason to hold others up. Sure, they have to overtake me but I'm not going to stand in their way. When I'm on someone else's heels (it does happen, albeit rarely) I don't expect them to move aside but I do expect them to be aware of others around and behind them and so not lurch about or suddenly change tack. Which people in headphones frequently do, more so than those without.

But at least I know when there's an iPodder on my heels because I can hear the tinny music, usually from several yards away.

03/06/2008 at 14:46

I used to run with my iPod but no longer.
For me it's a safety issue, especially as I run a lot on road and along quiet footpaths.  I also actually enjoy the peace and quiet especially as I work in a busy office.
I recently competed in a 10K event and observed three iPod-wearing runners fail to hear the warnings of other fellow competitors as the lead runners approached.
I also marshalled at a road race a few months back.  I was attempting to give instructions to a runner, wearing earphones, to keep to the footpath at a very busy road junction, at least until the traffic had passed and it was safe to cross.  She just looked blankly at me, stepped off the footpath and narrowly missed being hit by a car. 
As much as I agree that the choice should be down to the individual, I do feel that iPods, and other similar music players, should not be worn during competitive races.  If you choose to wear your iPod etc on a training run, then so be it.  But if you are in an environment where you may end up impeding another runner or road user, or perhaps even endangering your life ... best leave it at home!

03/06/2008 at 15:06
I really cant see why people would have a problem with other people wearing MP3 players.  There may be a safety risk but surely it is up to the individual to weigh up the risks against their wish to listen to music on a run.

I wear a iPod for most of my training runs, only not wearing one when it is raining as I have no idea how waterproof mine is.  I enjoy running without it but I prefer to run with it.  My choice, my decision.  I virtually always go out on my own but on the couple of occasions when I have run with my brother, I don't wear it as I feel that would be rude and would need to take the earpiece out every time he said something.

I have only run in a dozen or so races, ranging from 10k to 16 miles, and have never worn an iPod during these races.  However I ran a marathon this year and took my iPod in case I started to feel low.  Around the 16 mile point I did indeed feel pretty low, at which point I wore my iPod and feel it helped me with the final 10 miles.

If you don't like listening to music when running or feel it slows you down, don't wear an iPod.  If you feel that the music helps you or you just like to listen to something on your run do.  The choice, as they say, is yours.
03/06/2008 at 15:19

I pretty much go along with Born2Run.

To be honest, I'm not over-concerned about the safety of the ipod-wearer in races -- they have to take responsibility for that. And I also respect the view that not everyone wants to talk in races. No problem.

The simple objection I have is to the way that iPodders barge into me without realising it. It happened 3 times in the first 100 yards of the Newbury 10K on Sunday. I'm just fed up with it. None of them noticed, and just blithely meandered onwards.

Yes, I know that this could happen with a non-ipod wearer but it's not a good argument. The simple fact is that it happens a lot more if you remove people's spatial awareness. Just because you can contract lung cancer in other ways doesn't mean we shouldn't discourage smoking, which is a major cause. Same argument. Just because you can have a car crash while sober doesn't mean we shouldn't ban drink driving.

My compromise would be that earphones could be worn in the later stages of a race, when large spaces have appeared in the field. It's nearly always in the opening mile or two of a big race that the collisions and glassy-eyed meanderings occur. But how you would enforce that, god knows.

Best answer is simply to have earphone-free events, and other races where they are allowed. In this way, we can make a choice.

I have absolutely no problem at all with ipods while training. I use one myself. That's a personal choice that doesn't impact on other people. In races, unfortunately it does.

03/06/2008 at 15:26

I've noticed a strange thing. Races are full of people with headphones, music blaring, barging into others, unable to hear marshals and race directors, meandering from side to side, completely unaware of what's around them. Yet the forum is full of people who only use one headphone, have the music down quiet, can hear everything said to them and retain full and unimpaired spatial awareness.

What can this mean?

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