As a rule I don’t usually run with headphones. I love listening to music and podcasts but there are a couple of reasons that until recently meant I didn’t usually bother.
Races / Events
Most races don’t allow you to run with headphones. Their reasoning for this is that you can’t hear the safety information from the marshals. The exception to this is some events will allow you to use bone conducting headphones as you can still hear the marshals. (I’ll come back to this…)
As a side note.
If that’s the reason you can’t wear headphones to an event. How do they deal with deaf runners?
I’ve never seen an entry form that asks about hearing impairment and being married to a deaf person who is also a runner I know it’s something she’s never come across!
Even at events you can wear them I don’t bother. Part of enjoying an event is the atmosphere. Being able to take the whole thing in is a big part of the appeal for me so I didn’t bother on training runs either as I wouldn’t want to become too dependent on them. As a result I’m generally ok running for a couple of hours without them. It was only on really long solo runs during marathon training I felt they would benefit me.
Comfort and convenience
If i’m honest though this is the main reason. I hadn’t found a pair that really worked for me.
I’ve never found a pair of in-ear headphones I was comfortable with. Especially when I’ve been sweating for a hour or if it rains. They would frequently get crackly and move around more in my ear and I’d spend way too much fiddling with them.
Running a cable up my t-shirt to my phone was always a pain and the one wireless pair I tried sorted the cable problem but didn’t do away with the problem of how they sat in my ear.
I’m also terrible for losing headphones and I’d frequently waste ten or fifteen minutes looking for them. It’s time I’d rather spend on my run! It also meant I’d only ever buy cheap headphones which probably didn’t help with the comfort side of things
So that was that until I purchased my current running shoes. As I was paying at the till I spotted the AfterShokz range on display.
I’d heard about these from the “You don’t look like a runner” podcast but hadn’t actually seen any in the flesh.
So I was given a quick demo and my first impressions were good but I was still a little unsure because the price was putting me off. They aren’t the cheapest so I didn’t want to buy these and then end up not using them. Especially with my track record for losing headphones.
But I decided to go for it.
Thankfully it turned into a good decision.
They are comfortable to wear, they don’t weigh much and I never really notice they are there. I’m very grateful about not having to stick anything in my ears. Also means sweat and light rain aren’t an issue (they are IP55 certified)
The bone conducting tech does mean I can still hear things going on around me which helps with safety and also means I’m not entirely cut off from the world which I really like when out on a run in the countryside. Can still hear wind and birds and the rest of the world!
I’m not overly sure how useful they would be for listening to marshals during a race. I’d be able to hear the fact someone would be shouting, but not what they were saying without turning the sound down. Is that enough?
Sound quality wise they are fine. Nothing more that but if you are expecting amazing high quality and excellent range of bass and treble, that isn’t what these are for. I also find they aren’t so great for podcasts and audiobooks on busy roads. The noise of the traffic gets in the way so you can’t hear what’s being said because of the background noise. The fact you can still hear background noise is kind of the point here though so I just make sure I’m choosing carefully between music and spoken word depending on where and when I’m running
They do come with some foam ear plugs for when you actually want to block out background noise. There is also a separate EQ profile for when you have the plugs in. I haven’t used these yet though so can’t report on how comfortable they are.
You can also take calls on them. It’s not something I do often but everyone I’ve spoken to so far has reported being able to hear me ok.
On the battery front I’m finding they last around 3-4 weeks with how often I use them. There is a little button combination you can press and it’ll let you know if the remaining charge is low, medium or high.
Finally, they come with a two year warranty. I’ve had these about six months and after one run the button on left hand side stopped working. It’s called the multi-function button as you use it to play/pause answer calls and a couple of other bits and pieces. So I duly got in touch with AfterShokz, sent them my proof of purchase and they sent me a brand new pair without any fuss other than the process taking a little longer than I’d have liked. I’d also recommend getting them registered, etc as soon as you open the box as it’ll make life easier if you do have any problems.
And that’s it! I’ve been really happy with them. I’ve been recommending them to friends who have asked about them so though I’d share here. Since I picked them up the range has expanded, the pair I purchased have actually dropped in price and the top of range pair can be used while swimming!
From that range,
The pair I have, Titanium are currently £69 on Amazon
The pair that are suitable for swimming are the XtrainerZ and are £139 currently.
There is another pair more expensive than that but they don’t appear to be for swimming and are just water proof, called Aeropex and are £149 at the moment
There are others in-between those too!
*Full disclosure * those are Amazon affiliate links. The 1p I’ll get from the two people who actually click those links will go toward the hosting bill!