It is the age-old argument that the USATF (USA Track & Field) just can’t seem to make a decision on. Should headphones be illegal during races? Here at AFM we were pondering that exact question just the other day, so I decided to do some research.
Not only does this question pertain to running events, but cycling and triathlons as well. When it comes to competitive racing in any of these categories, I believe the answer is pretty clear: no headphones. Not only can the headphones be used for coaching or pacing, but half of the challenge of a competitive race is mental, and music can definitely be an advantage in that category. However, for those of us just looking to complete our first marathon or even 10K, is it really necessary?
The Headphone Ban in 2007 (since amended) was originally meant to help those racing when it comes to safety. It’s true that music, if turned up too loud, can inhibit a person from hearing sirens, horns or any other warning that may not be visual. This being said, I’m still not sure that threatening to disqualify an individual because of headphone use is the right decision. I personally like to take in the sights AND sounds while racing, but for many people, music is what gets them through the race. What do you think? Do you race with headphones?