I enjoy the solitude and sounds of the run. The sound of my feet greeting the road. My rhythmic breathing. The birds chirping. The rustle of the leaves as a skunk approaches my path. The car engine behind me that doesn’t care that I have the right-of-way through the intersection. I prefer to hear these things in time to react accordingly. I am not a fan of skunk-stink or tire tracks on my back. So I keep my ears free of obstruction. No earbuds while running for this guy.
One of my pet peeves is runners being oblivious to their surroundings. I don’t know how many times I have come up behind another runner and said “On your left”, or made enough noise while approaching that they should have heard me, and they jump out of their skin as I go by, shooting me dirty looks, because they had ear buds in. What if I were a grizzly bear? Or a sasquatch? Or a rare fast-running zombie? Those runners would be too busy rocking out to defend themselves.
So how can I endorse a set of headphones for running when I don’t believe in obstructing my ability to hear my surroundings? That is where Afterskokz come in. They have a technology that let’s you listen to your music without placing an ear bud in your ear canal or cover your ear with headphones. The sound get’s to your ear drums through bone conductivity. I was skeptical, but willing to give it a shot.
The nice folks at Aftershoks sent me the Trekz Titanium model in florescent green to try out. They arrived nicely packaged in a well padded outer box with a clear plastic case housing the earphones and accessories. A carrying case was also included in the bundle. These are high end electronics and the elaborate packaging was a reflection on the quality of the product.
I unpacked the headphones and plugged them in to charge. Once they were fully charged, I paired the headphones with my phone, which is easily done by holding one of the volume buttons until the voice command tells you that you are paired with your Bluetooth device. I then turned on Pandora Radio and found a station to test out. The wireless headphones actually sit in front of your ears. Instantly I noticed how clear the sound was. Even better, I could hear the conversation my sons were having. I could talk with them and hear perfectly well what they were saying to me. It was almost as if the music source was right next to me as opposed to actually on my head. Connor said he could not hear my music unless I had the volume very high. The real test came when I went for a run outside.
The Aftershokz fit comfortably on my head when just walking around the house, and maintained that comfort as I picked up my pace on my run. My running coach had prescribed a speed workout for the day. What better way to test a new gadget than by doing mile repeats? I adjusted the volume with the handy buttons near the right ear piece. I was easily able to find a volume that allowed me to hear my footsteps, my breathing and the action going on around me as I shifted from up-tempo mile pace to an easy pace between. I could hear the cars on the road beside the bike path I was running on, and was able to tell if they were decelerating to make a turn behind me in my blind spot.
With two miles left, I decided I wanted some peace and quiet, so I dropped the headphones down around my neck where they rested comfortably.
Aftershokz passed my test for being able to hear what is going on around me while running and listening to music. I still prefer the sounds of nature, so I have a feeling I will use these headphones on my treadmill, or for track workouts when I just want to zone out the outside world and focus on my paces. If you are a fan of running with music, the bone conducting technology is worth a try.