8 mistakes everyone makes with running headphones

With the right pair of headphones, your run can be a harmonious adventure instead of a comedy of errors

handsome man adjusting the LG TONE Free fit UTF8 buds in his ear
(Image credit: LG)

Embarking on a run without your favourite tunes or motivational podcasts is like starting a race without your lucky socks – it just doesn't feel right. But before you rush to plug in and hit the pavement, perusing our list of the most common running headphones mistakes everyone seems to be making is essential.

While the market is flooded with options promising to be the best running headphones, navigating the sea of choices can be overwhelming. From fit to functionality, there are several common mistakes runners often make when selecting their audio companions.

Here, we'll explore these pitfalls and offer practical tips to help you find the perfect pair of headphones to keep you grooving and moving mile after mile. Ready to go hard or go home? Let's go!

1. Symphony of silliness

Picking headphones not built for the run can turn your jog into a comedy of errors. Opt for those designed for the sweat and sway of the track or trail. If you're a treadmill stomper, you might want to have buds that cancel out noises, like the Apple AirPods Pro 2, while outdoor runners might prefer open-ear buds (e.g. Shokz OpenFit).

2. Poor Fit

Nothing says "dance party gone wrong", like headphones that won't stay put. Find a pair that snugly hugs your ears, no matter how much you bop and weave. People with smaller ears might want something like the LG TONE Free fit UTF8; if that doesn't sit well enough in your ears, try the Beats Fit Pro.

Jabra Elite 8 Active press images

(Image credit: Jabra)

3. Drippy drama

Regular headphones might not be able to handle your sweat session, leading to a musical meltdown. Choose headphones that can take the heat and keep the beat. Two of your best options currently are the Jabra Elite 8 Active and the Jaybird Vista 2, both featuring an IP68 rating. 

4. Deaf beats

Blocking out the world with noise-cancelling headphones can turn your run into a silent film. Pick ones that let you hear the sounds of the streets and stay safe on your feet. Open-ear running headphones are the obvious choice, although many closed-back buds now have transparency mode, which filters in ambient sound via the microphones located around their external shell. 

5. Tune-out troubles

Running out of juice mid-stride is a playlist plot twist nobody wants. Grab headphones with battery life as long-lasting as your love for the run. The budget Soundpeats GoFree 2 buds have nine hours of battery life – more than enough to last until you finish your next marathon. 

Black athlete running in race

(Image credit: Getty Images)

6. Earworm overdrive

Blasting tunes like a rockstar might seem epic, but your ears might not thank you later. Keep the volume in check and save your hearing for the next encore. Some smartphones automatically restrict high volumes to protect your hearing. Certain brands also monitor in-ear volumes and notify you if the sound has exceeded the recommended levels.

7. Tangled up

Tangled cords can make you feel like you're running a marathon through spaghetti. Keep your wires in line with clever clips and cord organisers. Many running headphones these days are cable-free—a.k.a. true wireless—but if you aren't a wirecutter, make sure cable management is on point when out and about.

8. Pre-run rumbles

Trying out new headphones on the fly can turn your run into a techy tangle. Take them for a spin on a shorter jaunt before you commit to a marathon dance party.

Matt Kollat
Section Editor | Active

Matt Kollat is a journalist and content creator who works for T3.com and its magazine counterpart as an Active Editor. His areas of expertise include wearables, drones, fitness equipment, nutrition and outdoor gear. He joined T3 in 2019. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar and Fit&Well, and more. Matt also collaborated with other content creators (e.g. Garage Gym Reviews) and judged many awards, such as the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance's ESSNawards. When he isn't working out, running or cycling, you'll find him roaming the countryside and trying out new podcasting and content creation equipment.