Most runners employ a variety of strategies for maximizing their athletic performance: lightweight apparel, elite shoes, proper diet, and more. But there’s also another ingredient that research has shown (*) can significantly improve your running achievements: music. Yes, listening to some tunes can do wonders for energizing and motivating you to push yourself to a higher level. But the types of headphones you’ll want to use on the trail or treadmill are typically a bit different from what you’d employ to achieve a high-quality listening experience in your favorite easy chair. Since as a runner you might not necessarily dedicate hours of your time to researching the latest gadgets, how do you know what are the best headphones to use while running? This article will go over the basics of what you’ll need to know when making your decision.
What Makes Good Running Headphones?
First, you need to decide the basics of headphone type. Although I’ve seen a decent amount of people in the gym with big over-ear headphones, those aren’t advantageous for a couple of reasons. First, the headphone pads do not react well to sweat, of which there can be quite a bit during a demanding run. So you can end up ruining a nice pair pretty quickly if you use it while exercising. Additionally, the weight of the headphones adds a little more bulk on your head which can be less comfortable during your run.
So with that first point in mind, we’ll want to choose earbuds over over-ear headphones. And although they’ll cost you a little bit more, we strongly recommend using bluetooth earbuds over wired ones. This is because the wires can easily get caught or pull the headphones out of your ear while you’re running. And wires getting tangled in your pocket can eat up valuable time you’d rather spend on your workout. And finally, if Apple is any indication (which they usually are), newer phones may move towards removing the headphone jack so that bluetooth headphones are your only option.
Give all of those points, now let’s look at some specific models of headphones you’ll want to take a look at.
Bose SoundSport Pulse Wireless Headphones
These headphones from trusted brand Bose can do a lot of cool things, such as the Bose Connect companion app which provides data such as heart rate monitoring during your workout. But it’s not just supplementary features that are impressive: the earbuds’ volume-optimized EQ ensures a great sound no matter how loud. Headphones slipping out of your ears are a continual frustration, but this model’s StayHear+ Pulse earbud tips will keep them secure even during aggressive exercise.
Sony NWZWS613BLK 4 GB Bluetooth Sports Wearable MP3 Player
This Sony product has a slight twist: it’s not just a pair of earbuds but an MP3 player of its own, with the ability to play songs you transfer to the device, as well as stream music over wifi, listen to internet radio stations and even connect to fitness apps. This is great for those who want to listen to music while they run but don’t necessarily want to need to have their smarphone. Sony calls it a “Sports Walkman redefined,” allowing you to enjoy the spirit of that favorite product from a bygone age spiced up with all the latest technologies. The device is also waterproof and still works even when underwater for up to 30 minutes. And if you’re not working out in the pool, you’ll appreciate the comfortable and stable design as well as the sound quality.
Forone IPX6 Bluetooth Earbuds
Many earbuds promise a comfortable fit, but the Forone IPX6 go the extra mile with ergonomically designed ear hooks that conform to your ear yet stay firm, and gel flex silicone earbuds. Their noise reduction and aptX lossless sound technology do much of the same for sound quality. And you can pair with 2 devices so that you don’t need to switch headsets when the other one needs your immediate attention.
JLab Epic2 Bluetooth 4.0 Wireless Sport Earbuds
These JLab Epic2 earbuds are already a favorite among runners, and they’ve only improved the product in this latest iteration. In particular, look for added skip-proof technology (Beacon Signal), improved waterproof protection, and expect to be able to use them for a heck of a lot more time (12 hour battery life), among other benefits including the sleek design and comfortable fit.
Karageorghis, C. I., Terry, P. C., Lane, A. M., Bishop, D. T., & Priest, D. (2012). The BASES Expert Statement on use of music in exercise. Journal Of Sports Sciences, 30(9), 953-956.
Tenenbaum, G., Lidor, R., Lavyan, N., Morrow, K., Tonnel, S., Gershgoren, A., & … Johnson, M. (2004). The effect of music type on running perseverance and coping with effort sensations. Psychology Of Sport & Exercise, 5(2), 89. doi:10.1016/S1469-0292(02)00041-9