Running Audio

Running Audio Gear

Audio technology has come a long way since I began running. When I started long-distance running cassette tapes were the standard. But the burgeoning technology was compact discs, or CDs for Millennials. In fact, I used a portable Sony Discman CD player on my first 10-mile run, and the headphones were foam Oreos on the outside of the ear.

running audio cassette tape

Today there are entire music libraries and audiobooks, podcasts, satellite radio, and much more at our disposal on our mobile devices and wearables. The sound quality and audio have improved immensely, the question you ask now is, “what kind of headphones or earbuds are best for your training runs?”

running audio cd player

Different Types of Running Audio

There are many options available to you to consume audio while you run. Over-the-ear, in-ear, noise-canceling, etc. but it really comes down to personal preference. Some people don’t like things in their ears, others don’t like to have their ears confined inside. It’s really up to you and your comfort. While there are two major ways to listen to your running audio, headphones and earbuds.

What to Look For in Headphones and Earbuds

Although headphones and earbuds are very different, there are some common things to look for when shopping.


For running headphones or earbuds today, Bluetooth connection to your watch or phone is crucial.

Water Resistence

Sweat from training runs can destroy earbuds and headphones if don’t have some level of water resistence. When you’re shopping, try to find a waterproof options so you get the most out of running audio gear.

Battery Life

If your training runs include music, the last thing you want is the batteries in your headphones or earbuds quitting in the middle of a long run. Look for audio devices that tout long battery life so that you never run into that problem.

Shock Protection

While running, each step hits the pavement sending shockwaves throughout your body. Some headphones and earbuds are affected by that shock. This can cause skips in audio connection or all out audio failure. Find equipment with shock protection or absorption to maintain a continuous audio experience.

running earbuds

Running earbuds

The perfect earbuds are comfortable and reliable while running. This means there’s a strong connection to your device and long battery life. They fit comfortable in your ears. And they keep ticking, even when you sweat like crazy.

When shopping for the perfect pair of running earbuds, keep the following criteria in mind.

Perfect Fit Earbuds

Earbuds have to be comfortable in and around your ear. Only buy earbuds that are snug and stable in your ear. Find earbuds that create a seal in your ear canals. If you have odd-shaped ear canals, you may find that an over-the-ear hook design is better for stability.


Training runs will create a lot of sweat. You need earbuds that are up to the challenge. You need earbuds that will last multiple training runs and still keep going.

There’s a waterproof rating system for earbuds and headphones known as ingress protection or IP. This rating tells you how much water your earbuds can handle. A rating of IPX4 is the gold standard for running earbuds, but even IPX2 is still pretty good.

Seamless Connectivity

Most earbuds are equipped with an accompanying mobile app connected by Bluetooth. Some earbud app features include customizable controls, like ambient passthrough toggles, equalizers, and so on.

running headphones

Running headphones

Wireless running headphones should feel right for you. This means they should have a stable battery life and a strong Bluetooth connection to your watch or phone. They must be comfortable while running and waterproof.

Here are some things to know when buying running headphones.

Comfortable Fit

Headphones have to be a comfortable fit. They should stay in place while running and be comfortable to wear on your ear for two hours or more. Buy headphones that are snug are stable on your ear.

Waterproof Running Headphones

Running creates sweat so you need headphones that are up to the rigors of long-distance training. You need headphones that will last several training runs and still keep going.

The “waterproofness” of headphones known as “ingress protection.” Essentially, this is an indicator of how much moisture your headphones can take. A rating of IPX4 is the gold standard for running headphones, so look for this rating or higher when shopping.

Running Audio App Connectivity

Many headphones come with a free app. This helps for software updates. Other headphone app features include things like customizable controls, equalizer, and so on. These features will help you personalize the sound for your needs.