Apple's New AirPods Look Great for Runners

If you like to run, Apple’s latest earbuds may be worth a look

  • The new AirPods (3rd generation). look to be a pretty attractive prospect for runners and other fitness enthusiasts.
  • They sit between the more affordable AirPods (2nd generation) and the feature-rich AirPods Pro.
  • For distance runners, the six-hour battery life means they’re likely to keep pace with most average marathon paces.
AirPods 3 worn by silhouette runner on a purple background


Apple’s new AirPods (3rd generation) look to be a worthwhile option for runners and other fitness enthusiasts. 

We’re less than a week away from the launch of the third generation of AirPods (October 26) and there’s a lot the new earbuds have to offer. They’re sweat and water resistant, can provide spatial audio and dynamic head tracking, and can last up to six hours on a single charge with spatial audio turned off. With the included charging case, they actually can give you up to 30 hours.

"I [already use my AirPods] on all of my training runs," said George Young, founder of Yanre Fitness, in an email with Lifewire. "Just one bud in an ear so I can hear what’s going on around me, and I’m set to go. I’ve never had one fall out during a run, no matter how hard the session, or whatever the weather."

Best of Both Worlds

One of the big draws of the AirPods 3 is how they land in this sort of sweet spot between Apple’s two current earbud models. The AirPods 3 cost $70 less than the AirPods Pro, offer more features than the AirPods 2, and have a longer battery life than either previous model. So they’re closer to the AirPods 2 in terms of affordability, but closer to the AirPods Pro in terms of features.

Side view of an athletic man with wireless noise canceling headphones on sports clothing jumping over a concrete block on street during daylight at evening

Daniel Lozano Gonzalez / Getty Images

Being sweat and water resistant is an obvious plus for a pair of earbuds being used while running, and the AirPods 2 doesn’t offer that. So if accidentally damaging your AirPods during a run or other exercise is a concern, the more affordable $129 model is already questionable. Before the AirPods 3, that meant having to go with the $249 AirPods Pro.

Having a $179 option, with most of the useful functions of something that costs $70 more, seems like a sensible alternative. 

"It’s actually a good price since most well-made noise-cancellation headphones and earphones are well over $300," said Young, "It makes the AirPods premium, but also affordable."

Going the Distance

But for running—particularly distance running—battery life is key. It’s no good if your earbuds run out of juice partway through a marathon, is it? Which is the biggest advantage the latest AirPods have over their predecessors. With an average finishing time somewhere between four to five hours, there’s a good chance you’ll cross the finish line before your AirPods even need a recharge. And that’s just for a full marathon—half marathons, 10Ks, and so on lend themselves to even faster completion times.

woman jogger running in the urban park in city, with modern city skyline as background

AsiaVision / Getty Images

Weather could be a factor, though, as colder temperatures have a tendency to cause electronic devices’ batteries to drain more quickly. 

"They will function ok in weather that is slightly below 0 [degrees] C, but batteries will perform very badly below 0 [degrees] F," said Young. "That is very cold for the batteries to transfer their energy to the [AirPods’] circuits effectively, and their battery life will dwindle substantially."

Though you can mitigate the effects of cold weather by, as Apple puts it, bringing your AirPods up to a higher ambient temperature. 

"Wearing a hat or face mask with them on could keep them isolated from the cold," suggested Young. So if it gets cold enough before your run, tossing on some form of ear warmers over your AirPods should help. Regardless, longer listening time (even if it’s lessened by cold weather) means more uninterrupted tunes and podcasts.

"I have owned AirPods for some time. With Noise Cancellation, Transparency Mode, and custom tuning, they offer a lot," said Young. "I am indeed interested in the all-NEW 3rd generation AirPods. It's a good upgrade, and a ‘definitely yes’ in terms of audio quality."

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