Running With Airpods: What Runners Need To Know

Do they stay in your ears?

Many runners enjoy running with music, podcasts, or audiobooks, meaning you need a good pair of running headphones for your workouts.

While there are a variety of Bluetooth wireless earbuds for running, such as Jabra Elite, and even bone conduction headphones, such as Aftershokz, Apple AirPods and Apple AirPods Pro are among the most popular wireless earbuds for runners.

But, are AirPods good for running, or do they fall out? What are the best running earbuds or earphones?

In this guide, we will discuss if Apple AirPods are good for running, tips for running with AirPods, and alternatives to Apple AirPods for wireless running headphones.

We will cover: 

Let’s get started!

A pair of AirPods.

Can I Use AirPods While Running?

When Apple AirPods first came to the market, many runners, including myself, looked at the design and were wholly skeptical that something that not only didn’t have a customizable fit for your ears but also didn’t have any hooks could possibly stay in your ears while running.

However, while I certainly wasn’t an early adopter of running with AirPods, I began to see more and more people running on the treadmill at the gym in AirPods or even running outdoors, seemingly not worrying about losing them while trying to focus on their run.

The original Apple AirPods are still circulating on discount websites, and some early adopters of Apple’s headphones might still have the original AirPods kicking around, but most runners who are using them are either using either the Apple AirPods 2nd generation, Apple AirPods 3rd generation, or Apple AirPods Pro for running.

Each of these different wireless earbuds offers slightly different advantages, but all of the AirPods have a lot of the same general features.

All AirPods are Bluetooth wireless earbuds.

A person wearing earbuds.

This means you don’t have cords that need to connect the headphones to your iPhone or device while running.

There is also no integrated connection between the two individual wireless earbuds (this is why they are considered running earbuds rather than running headphones) and no wings or ear hooks surrounding the earbuds.

Rather, you have the little circular head that goes into your ear and a small extension that drops down in front of the bottom of your earlobe towards your neck.

Almost all of the wireless headphones and running earbuds I use have hooks around the back of your outer ear lobe to help provide a more secure fit.

Then, there are interchangeable silicone tips that go into your ear so that you can customize the size of the fit for a more secure fit.

The standard Apple AirPods don’t have any of these design features, which is why I always imagined that Apple AirPods would not be good for running.


Are AirPods Good for Running?

Another key feature of the best running earbuds is a waterproof or sweatproof design.

It is important to note that waterproof and water-resistant are not the same.

Apple AirPods are not waterproof. 

This means that you can’t technically wear them in the shower, and if it is pouring rain, there might be damage. Essentially, the difference between waterproof and water-resistant wireless earbuds has to do with the seal around the earbuds.

Waterproof headphones have a special seal so you can swim or get submerged in water without damaging the components. 

Water-resistant and sweat-resistant running earphones also have a seal, but they are not rated for full submersion in water.

AirPods have a water-resistant rating of IPX4. This means that you can wear them in light rain, but probably shouldn’t wear them in a downpour. That said, I have worn AirPods running in the rain

A person wearing AirPods.

Wearing a hat over your ears or an ear band can provide extra protection; however, the disclaimer here is that the earbuds might get damaged since they are not technically fully waterproof. 

However, if you’re running with the case to boost battery life, keep in mind that the AirPods case is not IPX4 water-resistant or sweatproof; only the headphones are. You can read more in this Apple Support article.1About the sweat and water resistance of AirPods Pro and AirPods (3rd generation) – Apple Support (CA). (n.d.). Apple Support. Retrieved January 18, 2024, from https://support.apple.com/en-ca/105046#:~:text=AirPods%20Pro%20and%20AirPods%20(3rd%20generation)%20were%20tested%20under%20controlled

‌I provide some suggestions for waterproof running headphones below.

Aside from the fact that many runners are iOS users and thus use AirPods with their Apple devices already such as an Apple watch, another reason that AirPods are particularly popular is because they feature excellent sound quality.

The AirPods Pro now has an active noise-canceling feature.

This means you can get more surround sound for crystal clear audio, or you can press a button and switch back to transparency mode to hear some ambient noise coming through.

Note that if you are going to be running outside in traffic, you should always have transparency mode activated so that you can be aware of ambient noise for safety

A person wearing Airpods.

Active noise canceling can work on a treadmill if you don’t have small children or someone who might need to reach you. Safety and awareness of your surroundings should always be your priority over the clarity and fullness of your audio experience.

The Apple AirPod generations other than the AirPods Pro do not have active noise canceling. You will be aware of your surroundings as you run, but the sound quality is still good.

This is because AirPods have spatial audio.

Spatial audio basically is intended to create a surround sound 3D audio experience. There is a full range of frequencies from deep bass to treble notes.

Even though I usually run with podcasts or audiobooks rather than music, I do think the spatial audio feature makes the sound quality on the AirPods superior to some of the budget wireless headphones for running.

Finally, for iOS users, AirPods support Siri. This means that you can ask questions and have your iPhone notifications read to you wirelessly as you run.

This could be helpful for parents who might be receiving important notifications or anyone trying to get in a quick run during a busy workday.

It’s nice not to have to pull out your iPhone or break stride to check incoming phone notifications.


Can You Wear AirPods for a Marathon?

One of the benefits of using the Apple AirPods compared with some of the budget wireless headphones for running is that the charging case itself holds a charge and can provide about 24 hours of additional battery life.

The AirPods Pro battery life is about 4.5 hours, which will work for many marathon runners.

However, slower runners who are training for marathons or ultramarathons may need to have a backup pair of headphones or know that you will have to carry the case and charge on the go without the AirPods for a while if you want to have your playlists for the home stretch.

You can check the battery status of any AirPods generations on your iOS device.

The AirPods will also send an alert when the battery is running low.

How Do I Improve the Fit of my AirPods For Running?

The new Apple AirPods Pro comes with three different sizes of silicone tips.

To ensure you’re wearing the right size ear tip, there is an Ear Tip Fit Test you can try on iOS devices.2Choose your AirPods Pro ear tips and use the Ear Tip Fit Test. (2022, September 22). Apple Support. https://support.apple.com/en-ca/HT210633

‌The AirPods Pro Ear Tip Fit Test is basically just a series of steps that will help you determine if you have a good fit by listening to different music tests with the various ear tips in your ears.

The goal is to get clear audio and maximize comfort. The vents on the earbuds are designed to help equalize pressure so that you don’t even notice that the headphones are in your ear canals, whether you are running or otherwise.


Do AirPods Stay In While Running?

The first time I tried running with AirPods, the AirPods fell out.

However, in full transparency, I do have one really tiny ear canal, so I always struggle to get a secure fit in my right ear. Plus, it was a relatively hot day, so I think my ears might’ve been sweaty.

Although I don’t have the AirPods Pro, which I have heard are a bit more conducive to staying in your ears while jostling as you run, I have found a few tips and tricks to help keep the Apple AirPods in my ears while running or working out.

Tips For Running With AirPods

#1: Get Ear Hooks for AirPods

The biggest problem I have always had with AirPods for running is the risk of them bouncing out. 

This is why I have always gravitated towards running headphones or earbuds that have ear hooks over your ears.

Even the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) earphones don’t have ear hooks, but some third-party manufacturers on Amazon offer silicone ear hooks that you can attach to AirPods for a more secure fit. I also find that it helps with audio for phone calls. 

The ear hooks keep the AirPods in my ears more securely, which seems to help block out ambient sound and help whomever I’m talking to hear me when I use AirPods for phone calls.

Silicone tips.

#2: Add Silicone Tips to AirPods

The new Apple AirPods Pro finally have different silicone tips so you can get a customizable fit based on the size of your ears. 

This is definitely a big upgrade in terms of having a more secure fit and helping to block out ambient noise.

However, if you are like me and don’t have the AirPods Pro, but have the AirPods second generation or AirPods 3, you won’t have the option for different ear tips.

However, there are some third-party manufacturers on Amazon that have silicone ear tips that can be put over the ends of the AirPods.

Unfortunately, these aren’t going to be sized differently for your ear canal size, but the silicone does greatly increase the friction and help keep the AirPod in your ear. 

In other words, adding a silicone ear tip makes the AirPod less slippery and more tacky or sticky so that it stays in your ear canal even when you get sweat or moisture build-up as you run.

#3: Wear a Sweatband With AirPods 

You can wear a sweatband or headband over your ears for trail running or high-intensity runs to help keep your AirPods pressed into your ears.

Bone conduction earphones.

Are There Better Running Earbuds?

If you don’t have an Apple device, don’t want to spend a couple hundred dollars on wireless headphones for running, or just find that Apple AirPods fall out while running, there are several alternatives for some running earbuds and running headphones.

Here are my top recommendations for the best running headphones:

Do you run with AirPods? What are your favorite tips and tricks?

A person wearing AirPods.


Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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