As long as I've been running, I've always run with music. I listen to music almost all day - at home, in the car, at work - seems totally naturally that I'd listen to music on my runs as well! I think its odd that running with music can sometimes turn to a heated discussion. I understand that in some races its not safe to have zombies running around zoning out to music, but that doesn't mean that you can't listen to music and still be alert and safe. Although I run with music 99.9% of the time, I don't bike with music for safety reasons. This has made triathlon training extremely boring for me, but over the past year I've gotten used to the silence of swimming and biking.
Back in college when I started running I ran with my trusty Walkman tape deck. I of course had a great mix tape for running! I ran with my Walkman for years and years until technology brought us the MP3 player. When iPods first came out they were way too expensive, so my first MP3 player was some cheap knock-off form China that I bought on eBay. I ran with that for about a year until I forgot it at the gym one day. This loss came the week before my first half marathon. Ack! In a move of total desperation I ran my first half marathon (Rock N Roll Phoenix) carrying my Walkman. We bonded.
I had heard runners complain about running with their iPods in the early days so my first running MP3 player was a pink Creative Labs Zen Micro. I ran with this for a year or so until the prices of iPods finally came down and were usable on runs. My first iPod was the 1st generation Nano. That Nano was with me for a couple years of races until I ran the Chicago Marathon in 2007. You know, the year of the massive heat wave where three people died, hundreds went to the hospital, and they cancelled the race mid-race! It was extremely hot that day and on several street corners they had the fire hydrants open and water spraying the street. I ran under the water several times to cool off. I felt great. My iPod did not.
After getting soaked my Nano called it quits on me. By then the next generation Nano came out so I bought that instead. It had video! Very cool. This next Nano was with me for a couple years until it too died a wet death during a race. David and I ran the "Run to the Rock" half marathon in Plymouth, MA. It was POURING rain that day and my Nano died around mile 7. Awesome. You know what's even more awesome? We were training for the Marine Core Marathon and had a 20 mile run scheduled for that day so after the race we ran 7 more miles in the rain. In silence. Misery! (More on my blog 20 Miles in the Rain)
I bought a replacement Nano right after that one died and after having it for a year or so I finally decided that I wanted the Shuffle. I was sick of wearing the arm band and didn't need the full functionality of the Nano on the run. I ran with one playlist on shuffle - perfect for the Shuffle! My Nano was retired to my car and I started to run with the Shuffle.
I really love the Shuffle for running and thought it was the perfect music companion. Its tiny and holds enough songs to get you through your longest runs. The only thing I didn't like about the shuffle was the earphones and chord, but that's been a constant problem with all of my MP3 players. I feel like I've tried every earphone and earbud known to man. The Nike ones were my favorite but died after a few months. I got some SnuggBuds from the SF Marathon and was impressed that they actually did stay in my ears on the run, but I didn't like how snugg they fit (ironic) at times because they felt like earplugs
Several months ago I applied to be an Active Ambassador for Team Sony Walkman and was thrilled when I was not only picked, but given their new MP3 player the Sony Walkman W Series! The Walkman was all one piece, held as many songs as my Shuffle, and was barely noticeable on my runs. The only downfall was that the earphones were kind of big and funny looking, and David was constantly telling me I looked like I was running with two bluetooth earpieces in. Hey, its how I roll! jk.
A few months after we received our first Walkman, we got the newest version in the W Series. Now I think this one is PERFECT! Its a lot smaller and has the same memory size and functionality. AND .. its waterproof! (Its also the same price as a shuffle ~$50) This will be the last MP3 player that dies on a rainy run with me. Well, not like it ever rains in San Diego .. but if one of those other cities dumps rain on me during a run, I'm prepared! Obviously as a Sony ambassador we are encouraged to promote the Walkman, and I am happy to do so because I honestly think it is the perfect MP3 player for a runner.PC Magazine recently gave it an Editor's Choice award. For more on their review click here.
In addition to the right device, you also need the right jams. A friend of mine from college recently launched the website and service Rock My Run. Their site offers fresh running mixes put together by DJs. The music is great and its interspersed with motivational messages. They have music for a wide variety of tastes. Check them out and download one of their mixes! (Rock My Run Website)
Well its now time for me to head off on my morning run! Time to grab my Walkman and go!