Anyone with a smartphone knows you can listen to music as you run. But look beyond your phone’s own music jukebox. We did—GPS watches that store and can play hundreds of songs, and headphones that keep you aware of your surroundings, can measure heart rate via your ear and even provide watch- and phone-free music and GPS workout tracks.
While running with music isn’t for everyone, some studies have shown that music at a beat near cadence or heart rate can improve performance and endurance by reducing perceived effort, boosting spirits when tired and by syncing the body’s rhythms to the music.
Music on the watch, not the phone
The admirably slim TomTom Spark Music ($200) GPS watch has a 3GB 500-song capacity Bluetooth-enabled music player on board. Many options to replace straps in fun colors are also available.
Hear what's around you
Headphones such as the Aftershokz Trexz Titanium ($130) conduct sound through the cheekbones, leaving your ears open to the outside world. So although the sound quality may not be as good, your situational awareness is.
Tiny and loaded
The Bragi Dash ($299) Bluetooth earbuds aren’t much bigger than hearing aids—with no wires of any kind. They have a built-in 4GB music player and include ear heart rate, step and distance monitoring with audio feedback. Hear what’s happening around you through Audio-Transparency, or block ambient sound at the gym through Passive Sound Isolation. You can even listen to music as you swim—and yes, there is an optional leash.
Music plus HR
Jabra’s Sport Pulse Earbuds ($200) are Bluetooth wireless to your phone with an optical heart rate monitor in the earbuds.
The do-it-all headphones
The somewhat geeky looking Sony Smart B-Trainer ($250) includes GPS and HR sensors plus storage for up to 3,900 songs. Music can be selected based on your target heart rate—and the B-Trainer will give you performance feedback along the way.