Disqualification for wearing running headphones

Disqualification for ignoring Running headphones ban is music to the ears

I have a rule not to shout or give any support to runners who wear headphones. I mean, what’s the point, when they are cocooned in their own shut off little world oblivious to everything except what is reverberating through their ears? Why should I bother, when at an event like the London Marathon, there are literally tens of thousands who are more deserving. So I have to admit that I didn’t share a tear at the news that 29 runners in last month’s Gosport Half Marathon had been disqualified.

running headphones in city

This is not the first time race directors have taken the bold step of disqualifying those that break the rules on not wearing running headphones. In September 2013, 19 participants were disqualified at the Weatherby 10k. Even in the USA the land of the free, it is not uncommon. In one event 30 people had their headphones confiscated before the race and posted back to them. Sadly, in the USA, the issue seems to revolve around ensuring that the lawyers don’t get rich i.e. insurance.

However, it appears that views like mine are not exactly music to the ears of most runners. A Guardian article in March 2013, cited a Runners’ World Survey that found 75% of respondents were “for running with music”, while research by Professor Andy Lane, a sports psychologist found that motivating music improved performance (a bit of a tautology here). A research project at John Moores University revealed that when cyclists exercised to faster tempo music they “chose to accept, and even enjoy a greater degree of effort”. Another study showed performance benefits of up to 15% as a result of music dulling or masking some of the pain associated with training.

So what’s not to like about headphones? I would be on strong ground were I to argue that if the research is correct then those who run with headphones enjoy an unfair advantage over their non-wired up fellow competitors. Although, it begs the question to what effect when most headphone users are towards the back of the field. And there is undeniably a solid case to object to headphones on the on the grounds of health and safety. There have been several occasions when I have seen runners fail to hear marshals’ instructions, putting both themselves and others in danger.

On a final note, although I do not listen to music, but I did have a pair of Aftershokz running Headphones when I was training for the Veleta Ultra Marathon. I have to admit I really needed given the amount of training I was doing and certainly broke the monotony. It is also worth noting I loved these because the ear plugs did not enter the ear, which meant I could still hear the traffic around me at the same time, perfect for dangerous roads.