Headphoning over to the dark side – running with an iPod

Will one of these soon become a necessary part of my runs? (Apple)

Will one of these soon become a necessary part of my runs? (Apple)

The time may have finally come. I have $100 gift card to Amazon.com, and it looks like I’ll be spending it on an iPod nano. Color is still TBD. You read that right, a new iPod will soon be purchased (I got my last iPod more than five years ago), and it will be one made for running. The new nano comes with a built in clip (no nasty-smelling armband needed), an FM radio, a pedometer and it is equipped for Nike+. You can even turn it into a wristwatch. Since I need a new iPod and I am getting one equipped for exercising with it, I’ll give it a try.

If you read my bio – you likely haven’t – you would know I can’t stand running with headphones/listening to music. There are lots of reasons; mainly that music doesn’t do much to motivate me. It actually annoys me because the songs that play are never what I want to hear. I took Yvonne’s suggestion to check out jog.fm, but after entering my pace, none of the suggestions sounded like things I wanted to listen to while running. Plus headphones/buds won’t stay in my ears.

I promised Yvonne I’d give running with music a try and even said I’d let her make me a playlist. I also got an idea from a friend to listen to podcasts while running. Not sure if how running to NPR talkers will keep me entertained. I’ll give both a try and report back.

Any music suggestions or ideas on how to enjoy music while running for me and your fellow runners out there getting ready for the AJC Peachtree Road Race would be much appreciated. If I can’t figure out running with the nano, I’ll have to continue to sing to myself. Good thing I run alone.

Speaking of running technology, I am a much bigger fan of my Garmin Forerunner 110 watch. It keeps up with where I go and how fast I get there. It’s become an indispensable part of my running. We’ll see if the iPod joins that list.

17 comments Add your comment


May 6th, 2011
9:40 pm

I run listening to podcasts. Unlike music, you can still hear traffic noise over them for safety reasons and they still help keep you from getting bored. I keep a stockpile of WTF with Marc Macon, Freakonomics, Radiolab, Hardcore History, and The Moth. Also, I loop the cord of my ear buds behind and over the top of my ears so if they loosen, they don’t fall down.

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May 7th, 2011
8:28 pm

Wow! I’m just the opposite – - I can’t imagine running without my iPod. . I think I started my running hobby at just the right time, right when iPod Nano’s became popular!


May 7th, 2011
10:56 pm

You need to try the AirDrives FIT earphones.All you do is simply loop the wire over your ear, cinch it down and go. The speaker does not go into the ear but beside it. This optimizes the ear’s natural ability to interpret sound, so the open-ear design allows you to hear ambient sounds and conversations while still enjoying recorded audio. They are great. We sell then at, I mean you can get them at REI…$40

Gen Neyland

May 8th, 2011
6:33 am

No wired sounds for me, would rather listen to nature. I relate wired sound on the run on equal footing as one that’s wired for sound in Church. Albeit, this is one of those ‘To each their own’ things on training runs. I admit to being stumped why people are wired for sound at races. Trying to recall a photo of an elite racing with sound but I can’t. ..


May 8th, 2011
3:26 pm

Invest in good headphones that wrap around the base of your head and come over your ears. They aren’t as convient for wrapping up when you’re not running, but they won’t fall out and you can prop them so you don’t have the ear bud all the way in…no missing car sounds that way.


May 9th, 2011
12:11 pm

I just don’t like anything in my ears while running and I’m nominally against headphones. However, as long as the runner pays attention to their surroundings and can hear runners to their side and back it’s find with me.


May 9th, 2011
12:18 pm

I run with Skull Candy FMJ earbuds. They produce very good notes (the larger speakers produce more low notes, so no excessive high pitched sounds to give you a headache). The ear inserts are interchangeable based on size and on material used (included) so that you can decide how much external sound you want to hear. I’ve had mine for over a year and they have never fallen out. Never!


May 9th, 2011
12:46 pm

music players and headphones are dangerous for training runs. (You know, you cannot hear cars, bicycles, faster runners or attakers until its too late.) Also, people just look psychologically weak if they HAVE to have them for a race. (See also, Gen Neyland’s comment.)


May 9th, 2011
1:05 pm

I never wanted to be encumbered by having to have some listening device to keep up with or having to remember to buy batteries to keep it going.

Mid GA Master

May 9th, 2011
1:05 pm

I created a playlist of tunes that work for me from iTunes. The list is about 2 hours which covers any long run I’ll ever do. I would suggest protective gear for your iPod from sweat, rain, etc. I use a SPI pouch with a small ziplock bag wrapped around the iPod. Also, plan on “locking” the iPod if you do this. I have found where I actually change the song playing if I do not lock the device.

The reason why you do not see elites using iPods is two fold. The first is that Championship races can limit those devices for those who are running for a title. The second is that the devices at some point actually hinder performaces. As a former sub-15:30 5k’er, I have agree with the studies that above 94% effort, you need to be focused solely on the race and anything else is a distraction.


May 9th, 2011
1:14 pm

As both runner and running coach, I’m not a fan of running with earbuds — it isolates you from the sounds of traffic and the noise of your own footfalls (a valuable source of feedback for serious runners and runners intent on improving.) In a sport too often devoid of social contact, it further separates you from interaction with others: the unspoken message of wearing earbuds is “leave me alone!” If you insist on wearing them during a race, the most valuable playlist I might suggest is a recording of a metronome at about 180 BPM and set your pace accordingly!

Not part of the herd

May 9th, 2011
1:14 pm

Why the iPod? There are other, better and less expensive MP3 players.


May 9th, 2011
1:17 pm

If you drive, bike or run with headphones in both ears and block out everything around you, I have ZERO sympathy for you when you get T-boned by a bus.

You people know who you are.


May 9th, 2011
1:39 pm

Personally, I LOVE to run with music. It gives me an energy boost when I need it and it takes my mind off my aching muscles or heaving chest. I only run a couple of miles at a time, and often when I’m about a mile and a half in, I realize “Wow, i’m almost done!” The music helps push me along. I’m not trying to set any land speed records or train for any marathons, I just run to stay fit and improve my cardio-vascular health.

I would LOVE it if some people on here could continue to give me some suggestions on earphones that would work with my Ipod (I have a Nano that I bought about 3 years ago). I borrowed a pair of my wife’s earphones from her old “running radio” that you strapped to your arm and I use those for running (the traditional Ipod earbuds never stay in my ear). Please, keep giving me suggestions as to effective (and affordable) earphone options that I can use with my Ipod.

As for the music… do what I did and think about your favorite genre, and pick about 25 or 30 songs that are your favorites (ones that energize you or are quick-paced songs). Then just make a “running” playlist and shuffle around every time you run and listen to a few different songs. Be sure they are “fast” or “rockin”… a slow ballad or slow-building song is hard to run to (gotta keep your energy level up). Some of MY favorites (old school 80s rock stuff) are songs like 5150 by Van Halen, Raise Your Hands by Bon Jovi, Same Old Situation by Motley Crue, Kids Wanna Rock by Bryan Adams, Gypsy Road by Cinderella, Won’t Get Fooled Again by The Who, Hungry For Heaven by Dio, Slide It In by Whitesnake, Photograph by Def Leppard, Shot of Poison by Lita Ford, Secret of my Success by Night Ranger, Tattooed Millionaire by Bruce Dickinson, Tease Me Please Me by the Scorpions, and I’ll Fall In Love Again by Sammy Hagar.

Have fun on your run!


May 9th, 2011
1:41 pm

And for the record, I do NOT run on a busy road where traffic is an issue — I run on sidewalks or on running trails or on local tracks. If you DO use earbuds, keep the volume low enough where you can hear a car approach, ALWAYS look around as you approach an intersection or a neighborhood entrance, and don’t use them if there is a lot of traffic.

Like I said, that’s why I prefer trails, limited access neighborhoods, or sidewalks… I don’t like to run on busy roads, especially with today’s unskilled and distracted drivers.


May 10th, 2011
2:38 pm

After multiple occurances of being stuck behind large (5+) groups of runners all running together but drowning in a combination of their convo/ipods to the point to where they tune out everything around them….im a big fan of banning/limiting them at races.

Nice to have on a long lonely stretch at the back half…but dangerous to have in the crowded start areas.