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Music on the move – What are the best headphones for running?

Music on the move – What are the best headphones for running?

Research has shown what most of us instinctively knew – that listening to the right type and tempo of music while you run keeps you ‘in the zone’ for longer.

So what factors are important when choosing headphones for running?

Water resistance – If you run outside this is obviously important, but many of us forget that sweat is water and if you’re running, indoors or out you will sweat, and eventually this will kill your headphones.

Fit – There are headphones which wrap tightly around your head, or over and around your ears. But the best types of running headphones are probably true wireless, or lightweight Bluetooth. They are ‘in-ear’ designs with tips that fit into the ear and additional, curved, tapered ‘hooks’ that sit under the crater of cartilage just above the earhole, known as the anti-helix. When you’re running little things like a cable rubbing the back of your neck can feel irritating. Also, although the battery life can be irritatingly short with true wireless headphones if you use them as your main set, it’s more than long enough for even the most enthusiastic runner.


Wireless and ‘true wireless’ headphones are different. ‘True wireless’ headphones completely lack a cable or connector between the earpieces. Wireless headphones are still connected in some way, either over the head or round the back of the neck, even if they no longer need to be connected to a phone jack.

Sound quality – This is possibly the least important feature for sports use. Mostly runners want to feel the beat and be motivated by their pumped-up playlist, while blocking out external noise. Sports headphones are not about being able to pick out the subtle nuances in a Chopin piano concerto.  They need to be reasonable sound quality and be able to cope with a bit of bass.

Ambient Sound – Some headphones are designed to let in ambient sound with good reason: situational awareness is important if you run on your own and you want to be aware of traffic or of someone approaching you. This feature is less important if you prefer to run in a gym and want to block out the world.

Running is such a great activity, and the right music will add to the experience, so pick up some headphones today and in the words of the classic from Spencer Davis Group which features on my own playlist…Keep on Running.


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