The idea of running with music has always been more appealing to me than the reality of it. In reality I find the music detracts from my ability to focus on the run, and I tend to not really be able concentrate on either thing, meaning I’m not really having fun running, or listening to music, both of which I would usually find to be enjoyable.
I also – and this is something I’ve never really been able to understand or explain – feel weirdly stuffed up when I have earbuds stopping me from hearing the world. It is almost as if a sense of paranoia, and mild panic, comes over me (especially whilst running, but not exclusively) if I can’t hear what is happening in my surroundings. This manifests itself in a bizarre tightness in my chest, and a shortness of breath, that I imagine is similar to how the start of a panic attack can feel. And so usually my experience of running with music is that I go with it for a couple of weeks and then have a terrible run where I am looking over my shoulder constantly, nervous about what I can’t hear, my breathing and rhythm ruined by this mysterious, primal, panic sitting on my chest, and so obviously I pack it in and go sans-tunes.
Enter bone conduction earphones. I mean, this isn’t a paid article or anything like that but perhaps it might read like one, because I’m not sure there has ever been a piece of gear which has so changed the fabric of my running reality. I can listen to the music, and I can hear the world. I know that is literally the main selling point and I shouldn’t be surprised, but I really am shocked at how successful they have been for me.
The paranoia, the nervousness, the panic, which was caused by the blocking up of one of my senses has completely gone, and I’ve still got the tunes.
The music is there, the world is there. I can hear the birds, I can hear cars, I can hear people as I trot past them. I can hear Talking Heads’ This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody).
I always figured the problem with these open-ear headphones would be that the sacrifice in sound quality would be too much but actually the sound is more than adequate. I might even go so far as to say it’s pretty good. In fact, I’ve even ditched my bluetooth speaker on my treadmill runs and taken to putting my headphones on, seeing as they’re smaller and lighter and completely comfortable.
Which means I can say things like:
Do you know how good Hall & Oates Out of Touch sounds when you’re cruising on the trail?
Or did you realise the new Zeal & Ardor album is worth at least 5 seconds a mile on a tempo?
And that War on Drugs are the definitive partners on any run of ambitious, epic, scope.