This was a question that I pondered as I started running. As I began training for a marathon, I found the best tips and tricks for running with hearing aids.
Before I joined the running world, running was uncharted territory for me for the first 18 years of my life. I was a gymnast growing up so I had a lot of short-term strength and hardly any long-term endurance. When we had to run the mile in school, I would take off sprinting and subsequently burn out less than halfway through. Our 10-minute warm-up jog for gymnastics was torture for me. After I graduated high school and I was done with gymnastics, I dipped my toe in the water of running.
It was hard not only because I didn’t have strong endurance, but also because I would run with music and without my hearing aids. Apart from swimming, I never did anything without my hearing aids. Yet here I was running all over town by myself without being able to hear.
I managed to get a little better at running by adding on 5 more minutes of running during my daily walks. My speed didn’t matter, I didn’t care how slow I went as long as I kept going. I always ran/walked with music, convinced that I simply could not run if I didn’t have music to take my mind elsewhere. My hearing aids would stay at home no matter what. I would just have to hope that nothing would happen that I would need them. Even if I wanted to bring them with me and listen to music, I had nowhere to keep them where they would be safe from damage while I was running.
I kept up these summer jogs for a few years, never going past about 5 miles. Then, last year I got this weird idea to try a half marathon. Even though I didn’t love running and I wasn’t very good at it, I wanted something to work towards. Somehow, going from 5 miles max to 13.1 miles seemed like “fun.”
Once I officially signed up for the half marathon, I decided to get serious about running. I found a great program to follow so I could get prepared for it and I trained for months. The feeling of finishing that race was like no other. For some reason, I decided that I wanted to push myself even further and try a full marathon. Sadly, my marathon was canceled due to COVID-19, but I still ran it on my own around town!
Here are some things I learned about marathon training and running with hearing aids:
Use training as a time to learn what works for you. I quickly found the way I like to put my hair up and what kind of outfit I like to wear based on the weather just from trying different things. I like to listen to music while I run so I always make sure my earbuds are charged and that the volume is in a comfortable setting. But also not damage my hearing further by making it too loud.
If you have hearing aids that connect to your Bluetooth such as Phonak Marvel hearing aids then you can listen to your music directly from your hearing aids. I personally prefer to use my earbuds.
I used to run and leave my hearing aids at home, which worked fine but left me feeling a little insecure. What if something happens and I need to call for help? Or I can’t hear people who are trying to help me? Or what if someone else needs help and I can’t help them because I can’t hear? After some time, I found a way to start having my hearing aids with me while I run. This brings me to my next tip!
Get a running belt! Running belts are super useful for holding your keys, phone, hearing aids, or anything else while you run. Leaving my hearing aids at home worked fine, but I felt much better knowing I had my hearing aids with me throughout my run. I got a belt with pockets that zip so I know my hearing aids are secure in there. I like to put my hearing aids in a case for extra protection, then put the case in the belt.
I’m sure my hearing aids would be fine zipped into the belt alone, but there was a time that I was running in flurries of snow. My hearing aids remained untouched due to the double protection I put them in. Conversely, when I’m running in the heat of summer, it protects them from any sweat that would be absorbed in the belt. I also learned during training that some days are just hard and you may not finish where you intended. Those days didn’t happen too often for me, but when they did, I was grateful that I had my hearing aids with me to stay safe. I was able to call my boyfriend and ask him to pick me up.
Don’t stress about races! When I first decided I wanted to run a half marathon, I asked my boyfriend to sign up with me. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to hear what was going on with my hearing aids out and earbuds in. Also, I wanted to have someone I know and trust there with me to tell me if I miss anything.
After my first race ever, I realized that there isn’t too much to miss. There’s a lot of commotion in general at a race and lots of people everywhere. The announcer had a microphone to address everybody and it wasn’t hard to hear them. Plus, since there are so many people doing the race with you. It is easy to just follow their cues and start running when everyone around you starts.
I wish I could have run my first marathon at an actual race as I had planned, but I’m proud that I still did it all by myself. I’m glad I stopped leaving my hearing aids at home and found a way to keep them with me, even if they aren’t in my ears the whole time. I’m also happy that I got over my race fears so that I can start planning when I’m going to run my first real marathon race, complete with the announcer, the crowd, the other racers, and the adrenaline rush that comes with it all.