Music While Running or Biking — Is it a Good Idea?

You are welcome for the photo ladies…

Listen to music while biking or running is a very controversial subject. I know there are dissenting opinions on this, and you may practice something other that what I would recommend, but what I recommend is what you should do. End of story. There is no other viable opinion on this subject.

Listening to your iPod or other music device while exercising has no real benefit. They — the people smarter than you and I — have studied the use of high tempo songs during exercise and have found the results of every study is different and inconclusive. So, if you feel there is a benefit to music during your exercise, there probably is. If you feel there is no benefit, there probably isn’t.

Personally, I find it distracting. The fact that it is distracting is a two-edged sword. I like to tune into my body while I am exercising to know what is going on with me physically, so when I have music going in my ears I tune out. But when the workout gets tough I do love to be distracted by the music and focus on the tempo. The tempo can help me keep up with my pace. That and since I am wearing headphones nobody knows I am listening to Hansen.

But being distracted during a workout can be problematic. When you are cycling on the road or on a trail, you need to be aware of your surroundings. You have to know when cars or trucks are approaching you from behind or the side. You need to know when other cyclists are near you so they do not scare you into swerving off of the road. Riding with headphones on can be very dangerous, even for an experienced cyclist like myself. I would say it is just silly. When the going gets tough, you should be focused on breathing, tempo, and your RPM’s. One four words, JUST DON”T DO IT.

Running may be a little different situation. I do like running with music on the treadmill. I think running with music outside can be a problem as well, especially if you are running on the road or on a trail. You will run into the same challenges that listening to music while cycling. Some people pull it off, but I am not one of those people. I like to tune into my environment and know what I am surrounded with, and listening to music stops that level of the experience.

But when I am swimming, man oh man do I love music. I have a waterproof case for my iPod that clips to my goggle straps that works alright, and I love how the music breaks up the monotony of the black line. Hearing in the pool isn’t so important, so I think it is justified there.

There are tons of opinions on this subject. I think most are valid. I do think that when you are in a large group ride or running on a trail or road you need to keep your ears open. I can’t tell you how many times I have been in a near accident because someone did not hear me coming. I don’t judge and feel everyone should make their own decisions on things. But when you endanger other people, I would suggest you reconsider the safety of others.

In the mean time, here is a screen capture of my playlist for when I do run indoors during the rain or when I am swimming. Feel free to comment on all the pansy music — I think it is awesome.

And here is the second half of the list…

Do you listen to music while running or cycling? Take me through your logic…

About the Author

I have been participating in running and triathlons for 10 years and love the feeling that training provides. You may not agree with me, but you know you just can't look away...