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Can I Wear Headphones in a Marathon?

Music and Marathons: Not a Good Mix

Race day is finally here, and you've carefully laid out the gear that's going to take you from start to finish (hopefully chafe-free!). Two things to leave off your race-day outfit checklist, however, are your earbuds and running playlist.

Almost anyone who's trained for a race knows how crucial your workout playlist is to your motivation, especially if you've been racking up major miles week after week. But listening to music on a solo training run is far different than navigating through all the racers on the road with your volume on full blast. Wearing headphones during the race can cause you to miss announcements from officials, cut in front of someone, or not move out of the way if a runner is trying to get around you. Ultramarathoner Dean Karnazes, who's been in his fair share of races, has seen runners miss certain cues countless times because of music. "I've seen too many people cut people off and not answer questions. It's disrespectful to the other racers," he says. "People should unplug during the race."

For these reasons, some races ban the use of headphones during a race, but it's hard to enforce this rule when there are thousands of participants. But even if you might not get caught, you should still try to run without them; after all, if you're busy listening to your music, you'll miss out on the best part about a road race — enjoying the atmosphere with your fellow runners and hearing the motivating cheers from crowds. If you feel like you can't slog through 26.2 miles without your own personal soundtrack, however, do as Dean recommends: "At most, just use one earbud."

Image Source: Thinkstock
Join The Conversation
apricotusm apricotusm 3 years
"If you feel like you can't slog through 26.2 miles without your own personal soundtrack, however....." Maybe I'm taking this out of context but I feel like your saying "If your not mentally strong enough to run 26.2 miles without music you could at least........." I would guess that the average runner in a marathon finishes roughly in about 5 hours. I'm not talking elite or even Boston Marathon qualifier pace but a normal average pace and at that pace at some point a person would need to break up the monotony in that time frame. Yes I agree 1 ear bud in just to keep you safe so you know what's going on around you but to "slog" through 26.2 miles in roughly 5 hour time frame is a long time for one person to be alone with they're thoughts and then to push through the "wall" starting some where around mile 20. Maybe you guys are stronger than me. Or maybe I just took this article out of context.
Stephanie14946704 Stephanie14946704 3 years
I politely both agree and disagree. First of all, you should never have the volume up so high that you cannot hear the sound surrounding you to begin with. It is important to be in tuned with your surroundings for both informational and courtesy purposes. However, there is something to be said for that one song that REALLY gets you pumped up at mile (insert difficult mile here) when you really need it. I will never forget running my first 10 miler, and hearing a Lincoln Park song that truly did get me going as fast as possible as I rounded the corner to the arena into the finish line... Or the Katy Perry "Firework" song that pumps me up EVERY time I hear it! Training or otherwise ... While the spectators' encouraging shouts are just, if not more, thrilling to a runner, those songs that we use while training can get us going as well. I say, keep the volume at a minimum to enjoy/listen (not to mention protecting your hearing!), but also do what is best for you. My most annoying peeve would be runners' odors... perfume... worse than passing someone with loud music would be catching the downdraft of someone who strangely decided that using fragrant body spray/wash would be a good idea... it's not... it chokes your fellow runners, and it does no one any good. We are all going to stink at the end... no matter what you douse yourself in.
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