The use of headphones in running events and group training runs
Last Wednesday night I was running with Tracy in the 2015 Sunset Series a pleasant 7.2km run at the Melbourne Zoo consisting of two laps of a circuit. As with any circuit with enough runners, and the 8km had three waves of starters, there are going to be faster runners overtaking slower runners. This is all good as when you hear the faster runners approaching you move aside … at least that is the theory. With last Wednesday nights experience, and the experience with the self sorting at the Rosebud Australia Day Run, I’m not sure that this is the case.
One of the basic rules of running etiquette is that you can hear others, so you can move out of the way or stop, when necessary. This issue is important when faster runners are filtering through a poor self sorting at the start of an event and even more more important when you are on a circuit when the course follow the same circuit to increase the race distance and the lead runners are filtering back through the race.
The problem : Runners with headphones/earbuds
Runners with headphones/earbuds tend to be peripherally unaware. To operate well with peripheral awareness most people need to hear, the perception via stereo hearing can be greater than the awareness of sight. If you have you headphones in with your latest 137BPM running playlist pounding away and your eyes fixed on the path five meters in front of you, you are going to have no awareness of the runners around you – and that is a dangerous place to be. The Salomon Trail Running Series makes this pretty clear;
We strongly encourage all runners NOT TO WEAR HEADPHONES or listen to music whilst running in the Salomon Trail Running Series events. This is primarily for your safety, so that runners wishing to overtake on a narrow section of track can communicate with you and advise where/how they’d like to pass without causing a crash. The courses also pass through some magnificent eucalypt bush land filled with birds and other wildlife that is all part of the trail running experience and if you’re pounding away to music you can’t hear that either!
On Wednesday night we had a walker in amongst the runners who were on their second lap, the walker had headphones in and was in their own world. As we approached the Gibbons the walker stepped into the middle of a doorway cutting the path size from two people down to one creating an instant bottleneck – if the walker was aware of her surroundings I don’t think this would have happened. I managed to stop, the unlucky lady behind me was not so lucky and took a fall, ten or more people were impacted (many assisting the lady who fell). The walker continued blissfully unaware that anything had happened or of the impact of their actions.
If you can’t do without your playlist and you are going to listen to music when you run/walk try using only one ear bud rather than the two — Don’t be *that* runner!