This afternoon I rode 26 miles on my bicycle. I past several solo runners, two of which had Apple EarPods. One of them was holding his iPhone in his hand while running. I sympathize with this. I try to run a 5K at least once per week and that’s how I listen to audio too. I listen to podcasts with EarPods while holding my iPhone in my hand.

I can’t speak for this runner, but the reason I hold my iPhone in my hand instead of letting it bounce in my pocket is because when it’s in my pocket and I’m not babying the cord, the cord bounces around and threatens to pull the EarPods out of my ears. It’s really nerve racking; the faster I run, the worse it gets. A 9 minute mile might be tolerable, but a sprint pace at 6 or 5.5 minute miles becomes unbearable. Even with my iPhone in my hand, the swinging weight of the cord tugs at my ears. If you’ve ever run with EarPods you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Having wires coming out of your ears is unnatural in any environment, but I argue it’s especially cumbersome when running. These AirPods are going to solve a true pain point, and I can’t wait until they hit the market next month. I still plan to run with my iPhone, but at least it will be able to stay in my pocket. Yesterday’s AirPods announcement is great news for runners.1

My only regret with the AirPods is that Apple isn’t shipping them in the box as the default earbuds. We don’t need wired EarPods that connect to Lightning, and we certainly don’t need an adapter that connects to a headphone jack. Make people pay extra for that stuff.2

  1. As a tangent, until I’ve seen how accurate the Apple Watch Series 2 is with its GPS, I actually think that the AirPods are more pertinent for serious runners than the new watches are. The reason for this is because the Apple Watch Series 2 uses Assisted GPS (aGPS) instead of only pure GPS. The delay you get on a Garmin GPS watch when you’re about to start a run is a nuisance but it’s what makes the data so much more accurate than the aGPS on a smartphone or on this new watch. I’d love to be wrong, and I’m going to be looking for Strava activities with this new watch to compare, but I just don’t see it being good enough to replace my Garmin Forerunner 10. Here’s a good chart explaining the differences between GPS and aGPS. ↩︎
  2. That’s what the purist in me wants but of course Apple did the right thing. They’ll get plenty of kickback and flack for their move as it is, and they’ve chosen the route that will cause the least amount of problems for people who have $200 Beats headphones that require a headphone jack. ↩︎