Sound vs Silence



  • 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!

  • 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.
  • 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?

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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???

  • MuttleyMuttley ✭✭✭

    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.

  • 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!


  • 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.
  • 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.

  • MuttleyMuttley ✭✭✭

    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?

  • that the aforementioned wired up runners don't read RW?
  • FF has music blaring in both ears most of the time mutley.
  • most of the people that have contributed to this disscution, have well considered points, the people mentioned above don't really consider anyone, regardless of headphones or not, also they might not have learnt race etiquette yet, its not as if its written down.

  • I do wonder if the divide 'for' and 'against' connects with people's attitude to running, racing and how they've been 'coached' or whatever? Music was always thought to be a disassociative tool, whereas 'real' athletes are supposed to run in an associative state - feed on the pain or whatever. Which, obviously given the times of some ipod-using runner needs more testing! Are ipoders still seen as less authentic runners, from a stereotypical perspective?

    After all, comments suggest that many of them barge, blare their music and run around oblivious!

    Someone said above - Peter Crisp, I think:

    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.

     I have noticed the Forerunner bleep, in fact I often leech onto runners in races who I believe are running similar intervals to myself. And I have an Ironman watch that has a very long alarm for interval notification...But surely running in a race means running with others. And surely that means playing with others. If you want solitariness - be it with music or without - the perhaps races aren't for you?

    This obviously excludes the whole safety side of things!

    Personally, I go through phases; currently I'm in an ipod phase. But once the weather picks up again I'll go back to lung music. And I do sometimes have the music up too high.....

  • Bunny, I said this earlier. There seems to be a mindset (certainly amongst some the "anti" music lot) that runners who wear i-pods or such like are not "pure" athletes.

    I recently ran a sub-3 hour marathon wearing earphones, down low, but loud enough for me to hear the music when I need a boost.  Does wearing earphones make me any less of an "athlete"? I think not, as my times will testify. However, it's interesting to note that I'm classed as a "jogger" because I wear earphones on my solo training runs, and my races above a half-marathon distance.

    As long as you are aware of your surroundings & those around you, then why not listen to music? If it helps with your running & regulating your breathing (as in my case), then by all means go for it.

  • Let me just clarify 1 thing about volume - I am talking about being able to hear things that give me that extra sensory edge over being able to see alone. I am talking about being able to hear the feintest sound of a car aproaching 1/4 or so a mile ahead or behind - round blind corners and the like. Or the breath of a runner behind me when racing alerting me that now is not the best time to suddenly change direction or, worse still, stop abruptly. 

     And as for being able to hear cyclists behind me - whilst running and cycling I've been amazed by how quiet a solo time trial bike is coming from behind you at 25mph +. I'm sorry but put headphones on with music or the like at a volume which can be clearly heard then you cannot hear the examples above. Your brain is not designed to cope.

     Gym Addict Wrinkly Smurf and the like. The point I was trying to make is that there seems to be a contradiction between the generally accepted view that listening to music /  books / speech etc through earphones whilst running helps with motivation / etc. through distracting the mind from what it is putting itself through, yet, at the same time, according to some, it in no way hinders the attention they should be giving to their surroundings, which could have safety implications for themselves and others. Either music / speech etc. is a distraction or it is not.

  • I've been out on my bike many times and been surprised by bikes catching me in complete silence. And thats without any earphones.

    On one memorable occasion the shadow of a double decker loomed up on us going uphill - no noise from the bugger at all - I think he'd floored it and coasted up to us..

    I've no problem with people training with them. Thats their business.
    But in races ? I dont think they belong.
  • I belong to the "live and let live" school of thought.  Having said that, I agree with everyone who thinks ipods should be banned from races.  On Sunday I went out of my way to rearrange my schedule so that I could travel to support a friend who was running a tough 10K.  I planted myself at three different points on the course and cheered wildly for her every time she went past.  She didn't spot me in the crowd, and with music blaring in her ears she didn't hear me either.  I felt totally let down.  I'd gone all that way and got soaked to the skin only to be gazumped by an ipod.
  • That's a sad tale indeed, PR.

  • MuttleyMuttley ✭✭✭
    A similar point was made in a previous thread, by a race commentator. He said he put a lot of effort into identifying runners from the number lists so he could namecheck them and give them a boost as they approach the finish line ... but many couldn't hear him because of their music.
  • I wonder whether people who suddenly stop in the middle of the road/track in a race or weave around do so because they are just a bit thick and very thoughtless rather than because they're wearing headphones.  They'd probably do it with or without headphones.

    For  what it's worth, I always go out of the house with an iPod and listen to all sorts - audio books, the radio and music.  Essential for long runs.  Sometimes, if the day's gorgeous and the mood is right I take the headphones out.  Music is great for intervals/speed training - drowns out my breathing.  In my  two marathons this year I've promised myself the treat of my patent marathon music mix at 20M.  In the first marathon I was too kn*ckered to take it out of my pocket but regretted not doing so (I missed my target by 15 seconds - music might just have made all the difference).  In the second one - last week - I started off with headphones in but iPod off so that I was all ready to go at 20M.  It helped SO much.  So for as long as I can - I'll listen to music in long races.

  • Not read all the replies as we all know this debate will always rage on!!!

    But did read a few of the posts and I like a few others I  USED to listen to my ipod but I kinda got fed up with it and after doing one of my LR's in sunshine with no music I realised how much I enjoyed my own thoughts and the noise of the world around me. So I am a convert and have now done 2 marathons and half marathons with no music aswell. I didn't listen to music to make me run faster I listened to it to pass the time better and it was a comfort and company thing for me too which I have maybe grown out of?  

  • I said to myself i wouldn't get involved in this thread, i've dived in on most of the other Ipod threads and felt i'd said what i needed to. (I'm pro Ipod)

    However, i totally mirror bungees comments, i listen to music all the time and used to train with my pod on all the time too. I didn't/don't race with one but don't mind other people using them (as one of my previous thread contributions says, i'm more concerned by fancy dressers, flying water bottles and runners starting too far up the field and causing bottlenecks than any one wearing a pod).

    I'm still passionate about music but somehow i now much prefer to run without. But if you want to wear yours, then that's fine too image

  • Artful Hen -- Does this not make an MP3 player a sort of performance-enhancing drug then?
  • I ran last years' London marathon in 3 hours 14 mins with no ipod. This year I ran it in 3 hours and 30 seconds with an ipod turned right up so I couldn't hear any marshalls, spectators, or loud airoplanes. I didn't meander around and I didn't collide with anyone. I did knock 14 mins off my previous time.
  • I agree with someone said earlier about not actually wanting to chat whilst at a race. In  my job all I do all days is bleeding well talk/shout/projec (teacher)t. Running is where I get to stop talking and listen. I',m asserting my right to not talk and I'm sorry if that seems rude and antisocial. Actually, I'm not sorry. If I wanted to talk during my chosen sport I would join and team or a debating society.image

    I try very hard to get under foot, not to ruin anybody else's big day and to my knowledge I have never done so

  • Trouble is, earphone users just don't appear to notice. I'm sure the people who ran into me on Sunday without acknowledging it are under the impression that they "didn't meander around and didn't collide with anyone".

    I'm bowing out of this now. I've said my bit. I don't think iPod users in races will change their behaviour because they genuinely don't see that they are doing anything wrong. As mentioned earlier, we meed to bite the bullet and just make some events OK for headphone users and some not. In that way we can all make the choice, and be happy.

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