Running with headphones is dangerous, but not wearing them should be your decision.
When I first started running, I used to listen to music for my entire run. It gave me the motivation to get out there and the motivation to run further as it gave my mind something to concentrate on besides running. Then, someone I knew was hit by a car while running with headphones on and it was then I realized how dangerous it could be.
Having music playing at a loud level when running blocks out the sounds around you. Traffic sounds, emergency vehicle sirens, even bicycles—you can’t hear any of it if you’re listening to loud music.
For women especially, running with headphone plugs in can be very dangerous. If the music is at a high enough level, it can stop you from hearing someone running up to you and many reports now show that, of the women who have been attacked while running, many of them were wearing headphone plugs. For women, if you must wear headphones, make sure the volume of the music is low enough that you can still hear what’s going on around you.
Unless you choose your music carefully, running while listening to music also actually interferes with your pace. You’ll find yourself running faster or slower depending on the beat of the song you’re listening to at the moment. This can be a detriment, especially in a race where pace really does matter.
However, having said all this, I do not agree with the race officials who are banning personal music players and iPods from races. The U.S. has become a ridiculously litigious society where everyone is worrying about being sued. If somebody wants to wears headphones, I still believe it is their right to do so. Personal freedom is being taken away in our society all the time and, whether or not I feel headphones can be dangerous, I don’t believe it’s my right to force that opinion on anyone else. After all, if you’re an adult, you should be able to make your own decisions on whether you’re going to run with headphones or not. As long as you’re aware of the dangers and some of the potential ramifications of running with headphones, then it’s your choice…..just be careful!