How Do Runners Listen to Music? (3 Potential Benefits & Watch Outs!)

Most runners enjoy listening to music while they run because it helps make the time go by faster and can keep them motivated. You can reap plenty of emotional benefits from listening to music during any exercise.

Runners mostly use wireless devices to listen to their music while running.  Wireless choices are more popular than wired options because runners don’t have to worry about getting the wires tangled up and accidentally tugging the earbuds or headphones off. However, choosing between headphones and earbuds is a personal preference. 

Continue reading to learn everything you need about how and why runners listen to music while exercising.

Should you listen to music while running?

runner starting a running playlist on her phone to listen to music

Listening to music while running is extremely beneficial and can improve your performance. However, runners must be mindful of their environment while listening to music. Let’s check out some of the potential pros and cons of listening to music while you run.

Potential Benefits

  • Improve your running performance
  • Increase your enjoyment of running
  • Help you keep a  running pace 

Improve your running performance

When you listen to music while you run, you can increase your speed and get faster running times. Listening to music distracts you from how exhausted your body feels, allowing you to push beyond your supposed limits. You can also get lost in the rhythm of the music, and while you’re listening to fast-paced music, you’re more inclined to run faster.

Increase your enjoyment of running

If you find it difficult to encourage yourself to exercise, listening to music while running can help. Activities coupled with music improve performance and make the experience much more enjoyable, so you’ll feel like hitting the road for a run more often.

Help you keep a running pace

One of the most important aspects of running is maintaining a pace since this ensures that you have adequate energy for your entire run.

This is particularly important when you’re running longer distances.

When you don’t maintain a pace, you risk overtraining your muscles and burning through your body’s energy faster. Fortunately, listening to music can help, particularly if you choose music with the same BPM as your cadence and/or heart rate.

Potential Risks

  • Becoming unaware of environmental hazards
  • Increase your risk of running-related injuries
  • It can distract you from improving your running form 

Becoming unaware of environmental hazards

If you prefer running outside, then listening to music can be dangerous. It can make you unaware of environmental hazards, especially if you use noise-canceling headphones. You can minimize this risk by only keeping one earbud in at a time while you run so that you can still hear your environment.

Increase your risk of running-related injuries

Unfortunately, music can distract many runners, putting them at a higher risk of running-related injuries. Loud music, in particular, can be considered a risk factor for runners. You can trip and fall while listening to music if you’re not paying attention to your surroundings.

As much as possible, try to keep your music at a loud enough volume for you to hear but not too loud that you can’t hear anything else.

It can distract you from improving your running form

One aspect of running that new runners have difficulty coping with is learning how to maintain a good running form. So, if you’re new to participating in this activity, you may want to hold off on listening to music until you master your running form. Eventually, it will become second nature, and you won’t have to think about it as much.

Is running with music safe?

Running while listening to music can be dangerous because it can make you lose focus on your environment and make you prone to overexertion. Runners need to pay attention to their surroundings to stay safe, and they also need to listen when their bodies tell them it’s time to take a break. 

Tips for listening to music while running

man adjusting his earbuds before starting a run

If you want to listen to music while running safely, there are several tips you can follow to accomplish that goal. These tips will help you avoid overexerting yourself and keep you from encountering environmental hazards.

  • Keep one ear available for the outside world 
  • Run with a group of people 
  • Listen to upbeat or fast-paced tunes 

Keep one ear available for the outside world

Avoid purchasing noise-canceling earphones or headphones for your running session. Although they make it easier to listen to your music and provide better sound quality, these devices will make it difficult for you to pay attention to your surroundings.

Run with a group of people

Another way you can make the most of listening to music while running is not to run solo. Running with a group of people will help you stay safe while you enjoy your music. You can pay attention to the crowd around you to avoid surrounding danger. 

Listen to upbeat or fast-paced tunes

If you’re interested in pushing your limits, you should listen to music with an upbeat tempo. These songs will naturally make you want to run quicker than you normally would.

Alternatively, you’re more likely to maintain a slower pace if you listen to slower music. 

How do you listen to music while running without an armband?

Running with an armband can be frustrating, especially if your armband slips down frequently during your exercise session. Fortunately, there are several ways you can listen to music while running without using an armband. 

  • Use Wireless listening devices
  • Purchase a fanny pack 
  • Use a running belt

Use wireless listening devices

When you use wireless headphones or earbuds, you don’t have to worry as much about using an armband. You can play your favorite playlist while you run with your phone safely tucked inside your pocket. This way, your device is safe from being accidentally dropped or stolen.

Purchase a fanny pack

Although it’s technically not made for running, a fanny pack can be a great way to hold multiple things, such as your phone, wallet, or car keys.

Use a running belt

Aside from a fanny pack, you can use a running belt to store your music-playing device. Also known as jogging belts, running belts are generally thinner and fit your body more snugly than a fanny pack. They’re lightweight, unobtrusive, and can have additional features such as water bottle holders, reflective elements, and adjustable fits.

They’re a great substitute for an armband because they’re designed for runners who want to take important items with them without affecting their performance.

Is it better to listen to music or audiobook while running?

It would be better to listen to an audiobook while running instead of music because you can accomplish more than one productive goal simultaneously. Audiobooks are a great way to listen to your favorite books and learn about new things when you’re too busy to sit down and read. 

Additionally, listening to an audiobook while you run instead of music can help avoid overexertion injuries because it’s not as distracting. Listening to music can make you space out while you run, but many people can stay more focused when they listen to audiobooks.

Should you run with headphones or earbuds?

It would be best to run with earbuds instead of headphones because it’s easier to listen to your environment when you have only one earbud. People also find earbuds more comfortable than headphones because headphones can worsen your head sweat and make you feel gross.

You can adjust your headphones only to cover one ear at a time, but it’s not as easy as only using one earbud. Adjusting your headphones in that position can make them fall off your head, and that can be irritating when it happens in the middle of a run since it interrupts your running rhythm.

Do real runners listen to music?

people running on a race course

Professional runners don’t listen to music during a race because it’s banned in most marathons. Marathons ban this practice because it can be dangerous and can increase the risk of running injuries. Runners must pay attention to the race to protect themselves and others.

However, plenty of professional runners enjoy listening to music while they train. They, however, don’t listen to it during the professional race because they can’t deal with the distractions in that specific environment. 

Why do elite runners not listen to music?

Elite runners do not listen to music while they run a professional race because it’s dangerous. These professionals cannot be distracted because they can injure themselves and other athletes. 

According to rule 144.3 of the U.S.A. Track & Field rulebook, any type of portable listening device is allowed except for cases where the runner will be competing for awards, medals, or prize money. However, many race directors and organizers will discourage or outright ban the use of headphones since it’s safer for everyone.