Whether you run on the street, on trails, in the gym, or on a treadmill, listening to music or audiobooks can really help you to power through your workout. There are hundreds of types of headphones and earbuds out there, and AirPods are some of the most popular, but are they good for running?
My quick answer is yes, AirPods are good for running. With that being said, there are both positives and negatives to using AirPods while running, and some of them will depend on the type of running you are doing.
My name is Eric, and as an engineer, I have many years of experience with tech devices like AirPods. I have also been an athlete since I was a young child. Many times the worlds of tech and athletics cross paths, such as this question of whether or not Airpods will work for a runner.
I can’t make the decision for you since there are many variables that come down to personal preference. Still, if you keep reading below, I will give you some of the possible pros and cons of using your AirPods while running, and maybe it can help you to decide for yourself.
How I Researched
The question of whether or not Airpods are good for running can be somewhat challenging to answer. The answer can depend on several things, such as the type of running you do, how far or how long you run, how AirPods fit your ears, how much you sweat, and other factors.
To figure out how they work, I wanted to try them myself. I used to run frequently, but it’s been a few years. I decided to dust off the old running shoes and give them a try with my AirPods.
I tried three different running environments. They were the road/street, a trail, and a treadmill. A 4th environment might be an indoor track at a gym, but I currently do not have access to one, so I could not test there. I will assume the other environments will cover it.
Since everyone’s experience may be a bit different, I didn’t want to rely on just my experience, so I have also talked to a couple of other runners and read reviews from others to get their opinions on how AirPods work for them when running.
My Personal Experience
My experience using AirPods while running does not cover an extended period of time, but I have tried them out in different types of running environments and can give my initial feedback.
Next, I will give you background on my AirPod usage and tell you how it went for me. After that, I will combine my experiences with others I have talked to and read about to give you the main Pros and Cons of using AirPods while running.
I would consider myself to be an average AirPod user. I don’t use them constantly but will use them while working at my computer, walking, or doing other light activities. I find my AirPods relatively comfortable, but I don’t usually wear them for longer than 20 minutes at a time.
Using Apple’s instructions for a proper fit, I use the medium size ear tips, and I am using AirPods Pro (second generation). They fit snugly in my ears and don’t usually come loose unless I hit them or brush up against something.
So, my AirPods are comfortable and work very well for me in everyday situations where I use them. But let’s see how they did in each of the following three running environments, which I tried on separate days to get a good evaluation of how they performed.
Day 1: Street Running
I started with a leisurely run through my neighborhood streets and sidewalks and listened to music while running. As expected, the AirPods have excellent sound quality, which still holds up even while running at different paces and with various background or outside noise.
For safety reasons, I keep the volume at a medium level because I do want to be able to hear approaching cars, cyclists, and pedestrians. This is one thing that has a great advantage over other noise-canceling, over-the-ear type headphones, which typically block out all outside noise.
I ran (with some walking in between because I am a little out of shape) for about 30 minutes. My ears were just slightly sore near the end of the run, but not to the point where I was irritated by them.
It was cold out, so my head didn’t sweat much. I have heard that sweat can possibly cause the AirPods to loosen in my ears and fall out, but that did not happen. They stayed in the entire run without a problem and performed very well.
Day 2: Treadmill
For my second test, I took it indoors on the treadmill. With no traffic, pedestrians, or safety concerns, I was able to turn the volume up a little louder, which was nice because it helped to drown out the sound of the treadmill.
Running on a treadmill is bouncy and rougher than street running. The warmer indoor temperature also caused me to sweat more, and there were several times I felt like my AirPods were beginning to loosen a little, and I used my hand to push them back in place.
Although they never fell out, it was a little worrisome thinking that they might and a little distracting when I felt the need to push them back in place, but it definitely was not a deal breaker.
I ran for about 20 minutes, and they were comfortable the entire time. Overall they still performed very well, with only the one minor issue of them feeling like they could possibly fall out.
Day 3: Trail Running
Now for my favorite type of running. I was a cross-country runner, so I was excited to try this one. Even though when running on trails and in the woods, I enjoy hearing nature and my surroundings, I was curious as to how they would perform.
For this run, I went for about 20 minutes. The terrain was rough, with quite a bit of up and downhill sections and multiple obstacles such as logs, tree branches, rocks, and all the usual things you find when running a trail.
Here I again kept my volume on the low side so that I could hear and be aware of my surroundings. This worked very well, and I could enjoy my music while still hearing some of the outside noise.
One of the great advantages of using AirPods on a trail is that they are wireless, so I have no wires connected from my head to my phone that I need to worry about getting caught up in branches or other trail obstacles.
I did have one issue near the end of my run where I needed to duck under a low-hanging branch, and as I turned my head to the side, one of my AirPods fell out. Luckily I felt it falling and caught it before it hit the ground. Otherwise, I may have spent some time searching for it in the leaves.
Overall the AirPods worked very well for running. It was nice not to have a wire to get tangled up in while trying to run in any of the environments. It was also nice to be able to adjust the volume to a level where I had good sound quality but could still hear some outside sound for safety.
The AirPods were comfortable enough for my entire runs, and my battery power lasted without a problem also. My runs were relatively short and under 30 minutes, but both could be a factor for running long distances and long periods such as a marathon.
The only issue that concerned me was the one instance where the AirPod fell out. I don’t want to interrupt my run and spend time looking for a lost AirPod, and I definitely don’t want to lose one of them. While this may have been a rare instance it is something to consider, especially if you don’t have them fitted well for your ears.
Pros and Cons
From my experience, those I have talked to, and reviews from others, I have found that there are both good and bad points to using AirPods for running. Below, I have combined what I have found and created a list of pros and cons.
AirPods are known for their excellent sound quality, so whether you like to turn it up loud or have some nice subtle background music, you know that you will have good sound quality while you run.
There’s nothing worse than hanging wires that get caught up in your clothing or are constantly rubbing against you while you run. Since AirPods are wireless, you don’t need to worry about getting tangled up and distracted from your run.
When fitted properly, the AirPods are very comfortable for most users. The low profile is nice and better than having bulky speakers covering your ears and causing your head to overheat. You probably won’t even feel that they are in your ears for short to medium runs.
If you use an Apple Watch while you run, you have great biometrics features and can listen to your music without carrying your phone on your run.
Yes, you can adjust the volume with any headphones, but with AirPods, you can easily adjust them without getting onto your phone or watch by using the touch control on either AirPod. Also, Since they are earbuds instead of over-the-ear headphones, you can have a volume level where it is still possible to hear what is happening around you for safety reasons.
For most short to medium runs, you should have enough battery life to last as long as you have them somewhat charged. Fully charged AirPods can last for about 6 hours, so as long as you’re not running a marathon, you won’t have to worry, and even at that, a fully charged set can probably make it.
Since AirPods are wireless earbuds, there is the possibility that they can fall out, no matter how well they fit your ears. This seems to be the case for those who sweat a lot which can cause the AirPods to loosen and fall out.
This can be very distracting since you might have to stop your run and pick up your fallen AirPod or even search for it if you don’t see it right away. Worse case, you could lose one, but for many who have them fitted well, this can be a very uncommon problem.
Some runners have reported that the AirPods become very uncomfortable in their ears after long periods of running. I can see where this can happen because mine do start to become a little uncomfortable after about 25 to 30 minutes of wearing them.
This may depend on how your AirPods fit your ears, so most people may not experience this discomfort and if you do mostly short to medium-length runs, it may not be an issue. For long-distance runners, there is more of a chance of discomfort purely from having them in for such a length of time.
You won’t need to worry if your AirPods are fully charged and relatively new. As mentioned above, fully charged AirPods can last for around 6 hours. On the other hand, if you have not charged them in a while or the batteries are beginning to wear out, you may have an issue.
Especially for those running long distances, there is a chance your battery may die while running, and since they are not connected by a wire to your phone or watch, there will be no way for them to get power when you are in the middle of running.
As you can see from my research, the positives outweigh the negatives when using your AirPods for running. Because of this, they are good for running, are a great benefit, and have many advantages over traditional wired and over-the-ear headphones.
I hope the information above can help you decide whether using AirPods while running is right for you. As Usual, let me know if you have any questions or comments. I would love to hear from you.