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  • Listen up, Runners!

    Posted on April 24th, 2009 Michele Sun No comments

    I travel for work a lot, and in order to keep up with my training I always pack my running shoes in my suitcase and try to find a safe trail or route to run in the cities that I’ll visit. Usually I will sign up with a local runners club on-line prior my trip, and ask for recommendation and advice from fellow runners out there; I have found good running routes in New York, Vancouver, Calgary, Taiwan…etc. through virtual friends. It’s also very informational to exchange running techniques, race experiences, nutrition info… in forums. .

    One of the often discussed topics in the forums is mp3 – whether it’s ok (or allowed) to wear an mp3 player or not during road running or a

    marathon race. I have heard that mp3 players are no longer allowed at some marathons. The ban was passed couple years ago by USA Track & Field (USATF) for safety reasons and possibly prevents people from having a “competitive edge”. But event organizers have only recently begun enforcing the rule – for example, the New York City Marathon, Marine Corp Marathon, Grandma’s Marathon… all music players were “technically” not allowed, but the event organizers just don’t know how to police 30,000 runners. If you’re wondering if Beyonce will make it to mile 26 with you, then you don’t need to worry for now – there are still races, like the Rock n’ Roll marathons series, will not be enforcing such ban. Or some race directors are reluctant to prohibit these devices in their races for fear of losing entrants.

    Many race participants, especially those are attempting their first 10K or 13.1 mile distance, feel that they can’t complete or compete a race course without the support of an uplifting tune. Taking away the iPod will also take away the motivation for some runners.  Though I don’t see how mp3 player gives a “competitive edge”, but do agree and support USATF’s ban and always advice new runners not to wear mp3 players during their runs – simply for their and other runners’ safety.

    Don’t get me wrong, I hate boring treadmill runs and always need to spice up the super boring runs by listening to Give it 2 Me or Pump It on my iPod, but there’s a time and place for everything – running on road wearing headphone is just too dangerous. When you can’t hear the world around you, you are potentially in for a world of hurt. You can’t hear what’s coming behind you – other runners, cyclists, animals or cars…etc. And there have been enough incidents to determine that criminals look for people who aren’t paying attention to their surroundings, for example people listening to music.

    Couple years ago when I first started running, I also needed and depended on my iPod on an armband to motivate me —  Lance was my running buddy because of It’s Not About the Bike . But soon I have discovered that I would be missing a great deal of running experience if I blocked myself out in my own music and I wouldn’t appreciate the trails, the trees, the ducks, the hills and the challenge as much. And does listening to music really give you an advantage? Well, unless you have a playlist with paced/specific bpm for running, your collection of songs may actually mess up your tempo and pace.

    Running is about fun — a physical and mental enjoyment, about using your body and mind to make the most out of it. It is seeing the perfection in yourself even when you are struggling. And like any other fun things in life – be smart and responsible.


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