Picking Tunes for Your Run

Written by Eric Palonen, Sr. Product Specialist Sennheiser Consumer Electronics.

Running is a stunning example of physics and more specifically, momentum. Interestingly enough, progress in both running and life is determined by your management of potential and kinetic energy in order to maximize the benefits of momentum. Look up "momentum" in your favorite dictionary for a wonderful disruption to your day; it is truly fascinating stuff when put into context of a runner and the human body. However, disrupting a runner's momentum generally yields results that can be very unpleasant.  

Converting one's potential into kinetic energy should not be disrupted by the ill-kept promises of technology. Although gadgets have promised more of this momentum, it is all too easy to focus on the technology instead of the core activity of running. The latest running technology--such as Apple's iPod Shuffle and Adidas/Sennheiser running headphones--have made the integration of tech easier than ever before. Even so, the disruption caused by flailing cables or tumbling earbuds disrupts focus and results in lost momentum. Fear not my fellow odometers...I will share with you some battle-tested, top-secret, G14 classified tips for mastering running technology; you have the ability to eliminate disruption and make your run as fun or focused as you desire.

Lets start with apparel and the old mantra that less is more. For many, the appeal of running is its minimalist roots. Along with swimming and wrestling, it is the simplest sport known to man. As you add shoes, braces, visors, wristbands, iPods, fanny-packs, pedometers, heart-rate monitors, headphones and sunglasses, you increase your resistance significantly. Some of this gear is required and that is OK but for most, consolidation works wonders for improving stride, focus and efficiency. Keep a gym-bag or milk-crate in your car trunk with items that are not essential to every run, but may be essential to a particular run. This lets you keep what you need near you at all times instead of on you. As your performance increases, the need for gizmos will wane and the fine tuned machine you are driving starts to work on its own clock. Seasoned runners know their pace without a glance at the watch or distance and you can get there too.

Once you have consolidated your gadget collection to what you need it is time to increase efficiency with your bio-mechanics. While your stride is as unique to you as your fingerprint, your gear, no matter how generic, should work with your form- not against it. Shoes with a spider-web of laces contribute to drag and present a hurdle at every step. Use shorter laces and double-knot to reduce free-hanging laces from flopping.

Many athletes, pro and amateur, run to stay in good shape. If you run, wear running-specific shorts. Period. The reduction in fabric and seam alignment make a world of difference. Basketball shorts or even mid-length trunks add resistance to every stride no matter how bad you want to hide your skin. Take the same approach with your shirt and wear as little as you can get away with to assist your aerodynamics. Remember that if you train inefficiently, you will perform inefficiently so avoid the thought that training with more weight and resistance will help you on race-day. Your shirt is also vital to headphone performance. I know, I know it sounds like nonsense, but here is how it works: top-notch sports headphones like the Adidas/Sennheiser set mentioned before actually include a discrete clip system to anchor the headphone cable to your shirt. By providing three anchor points (the iPod, and two spots on your shirt) you will eliminate flopping cables which can snag a branch, hand or slap you in the face. This thoughtful gesture is beyond brilliant and should be utilized on every run. Models available at the Apple store actually include a mic for you iPhone users, permitting taking a call without stopping-- how cool is that?? They also feature unique holding systems that prevent your music from leaving your ears due to sweat and motion. How 'bout them apples?

After you power up the 'pod, select a pre-programmed playlist if possible. As mentioned in my previous article, a predetermined playlist removes the need to stop or slow down to reach the player's controls and move to a new track (and keeps your eyes on the road/trail). For those that have yet to try an arm-worn MP3 case, give it a whirl! I personally think that the side of my arm is otherwise useless during a run and having a super-secure, protective case for my music is one less thing to worry about. Use these tips to get momentum in your favor and unleash your true potential.