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Is it safe to run with music?

By Kim Allison
Posted on 22 Apr, 2015

Is is safe to run with music

For many runners, music is a great motivator and a key performance-enhancer. But there’s another camp which thinks it is not safe to be listening to music when running. What are your thoughts on this? This is what other runners are saying.


I have a much better chance of hearing that car barrelling down on me, or that dog chasing after me when I leave the headphones at home. I try to be safe when I run – I run against traffic and try to wear some bright colors – but my safety is not a driver's first priority. If I can hear a car behind me, at least I'll have a chance to get out of the way.
I really hate this idea that running with music is dangerous. That's just plain nonsense. Do you lot also admonish the deaf for running? Do you go around telling the deaf community that they should never, ever run because it would just be too dangerous for them? The way people like you lot go on about how dangerous it is to run while listening to music, you'd think that nobody ever gets involved in an accident unless they were listening to music. That's obviously not the case. Many people all over the world get into accidents even when they are not listening to music.


With great audio power comes great volume-control responsibility, which is why so many of us drop an earbud, limit our use to trails and treadmills, or use ear clips that don't block ambient sound. An MP3 player is just another tool in your training kit, to be used with caution, accountability, and moderation.


All rubbish IMHO. I used to run with a club in central London who banned the use of headphones when one of their group was hit on the road near Buck Palace and had severe injuries. Amazingly people were able to cope with this and still run.


I pass joggers and walkers with their music so loud that they cannot hear me ringing my bicycle bell right next to them.


Running with music is great, but I find it hard to run while holding a boom box on my shoulder.


Running with music in town can be very dangerous because you don't hear traffic. Also, when I get out into the country, I love the natural sounds especially birdsong. Running in the country can be lethal too. Running from my home means sometimes sharing blind corners with enormous tractors. People outdoors with headphones on are people who suffer from the delusion that the world is completely safe. It isn't, it's mostly safe but when it isn't you need your wits about you.


People get into accidents because they are not being careful, whether they are the ones running or the ones driving. Do you think it's also dangerous to listen to music while driving? Listening to music does not make one more or less careful. Yes, it can be a distraction but anything else can be a distraction. Merely day dreaming can be a distraction. Chatting with another person can be a distraction. Seeing something interesting can be a distraction. Listening to bird songs can be a distraction. It's up to you as an individual to control how distracted you let yourself be while you're driving or running.


As for road safety, podcasts tend not to be much louder than a person would be if they were running with you. The main concern is the type of headphones one uses. Noise-cancelling headphones probably wouldn't be the brightest idea.


One should always avoid sharing the road with traffic in the first place. Are there no other places you can jog besides the roads? You can run on the sidewalks or parks if you're in the city or you can run on the fields of grass if you're in the country. There's no reason why you have to run on roads unless you're crossing to get from one place to another, in which case you better slow down, even stop if necessary, and have a look around before you proceed, regardless of whether you're listening to music, whether you're deaf, or whether you are day dreaming about how superior you are to all those people listening to music.


Running in the gym is a different thing of course, but then they're so full of other, awful music you can't really just listen to your own without deafening yourself.


I think a race track is not a good place to be wearing headphones, especially a busy one. You could so easily be mowed down by a sprinter, or any other fast runner because you didn't hear them shout, ‘TRACK!’


I've been listening to audiobooks on long runs recently, though I do find that I quite often zone out for a bit then realise I have no idea what happened in the last 10 minutes. It's a nice combo of distraction but still allowing you to stay safe/ hear traffic etc.


What kind of nanny state madness is this? I go running at night with music on darkish roads occasionally frequented by trucks and idiot, reckless Qataris in Land Cruisers (before anyone says why? have you been here? I have little choice if i want to go outside) but I'm here and fine....just need some common sense and keep the volume down.


I always feel safer if I'm running along trails through woods, without music.


I enjoy both, must mostly prefer running outside without. This winter I've been running alone in the dark, and quite frankly I wouldn't feel safe with them in. I find it really rude when I go for a run with someone who wears headphones.


You'll never hear the pitter-patter of some footpad about to rob you or the screech of squealing brakes from a drunk-drive car as it ploughs you into a brick wall. BTW, why do folk on running machines in gyms look so unhappy?


For indoor runs on treadmills: go ahead. You will not even miss a fire alarm.


I used to listen to music going for my epic teenager walks, adult not so angsty walks and biking. Biking to work was so boring I thought the ipod was the best thing ever, but would leave one ear free to listen to traffic and potential accidents. Then I stopped that too. The walking/running with music stopped when I moved to the country because there are real live predator animals to be aware of, people on crazy off road vehicles and random things like branches snapping or angry owls to think about. Then I got married and am often out with someone, not plodding along alone. To think I missed out on so much, the sound of the wind through trees, the ocean, rivers, creeks, bird songs, the flap of birds' wings, eagles chattering, and still silence.


Having originally run with headphones on, last year I was forced to stop due to 1/2 marathon regulations. For the past year I've been running without and find the whole running experience enhanced. Rather than losing yourself in the music you do have a chance to listen to both your own body and also the environment around you. It means I can better regulate my training but also enjoy unexpected natural pleasures whilst out and about. There is a safety element as well that is impossible to argue against. Having headphones in means you can't be as aware of your environment as not having headphones in. I'm not being prescriptive about this, each to their own but why not try a moments musical silence and enjoy the sound of yourself as you run.

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