I couldn’t find a pair of headphones that fit comfortably and stayed in place while running…until I found this pair that goes over your ears. Genius!

By Shannon Bauer
February 20, 2020
AfterShokz

No, Really, You Need This features wellness products our editors and experts feel so passionately about that they can basically guarantee it will make your life better in some way. If you've ever asked yourself, "This seems cool, but do I really ~need~ it?" the answer this time is yes.

Every runner knows that after shoes, headphones are your most important (and often most expensive) necessary running accessory. And like your running sneakers, there's no one size or style fits brand or style of headphones (or earpods!).

I've historically had a really difficult time finding wireless headphones that actually stay in my small ears, fit comfortably for many miles, and have good sound quality. (Related: The New Apple AirPods Finally Have Enough Battery for a Full Marathon)

In my search for the perfect pair, I've tried Apple AirPods, Jaybird wireless earbuds, and many of the other popular running headphones—all of which were too loose and popped out mid-run.

But then I discovered the AfterShokz Air ($120, amazon.com) and can confidently say that they are, hands down, the best headphones I have ever worn.

First, let me explain how these babies work: The headphones sit outside your ear and use bone conduction technology to transfer mini vibrations through your cheekbones directly to the inner ear, bypassing the eardrum. It's similar to plugging your ears and humming—the sound quality is impressively clear.

The lightweight, flexible design of the AfterShokz Air headphones wraps behind your head and sits over your ears to rest on the back of your cheekbones. So when I first tried them on I was convinced that they were essentially speakers and everyone could hear my music. I was wrong. In fact, I have asked many-a-friend if they could hear what embarrassing hype song I was playing at full volume and, nope—my secret Broadway workout playlist is still safe with me. (Related: The Best Pump-Up Songs to Tackle Any Workout)

As a female-identifying runner who often goes for solo runs, I am keenly aware of the dangers my hobby poses. Needless to say, I try to keep my ears open, even if it's just to move aside for a car or fellow runner. But I don't get the same stress-relieving benefits when I run tech-free, as podcasts and music help me focus on the workout at hand. With the AfterShokz Air, however, I can listen to a playlist and still hear footsteps or traffic behind me, allowing me to feel confident as opposed to afraid, of my surroundings. (Psst...here's what other women do to feel safe while running alone.)

I ran nine races last year to qualify for the New York City Marathon, three of them half marathons. (For my first I used this 10-week half marathon training plan, BTW, and it worked like a charm.) Distance races come with a lot of training miles—all of which I conquered with thanks to the six-hour battery life and without fiddling to find the perfect fit or accidentally yanking the headphones off my head. And because these headphones sit outside your ear, you're never left with sore eardrums from chafing buds or too-loud music. (Related: I Tested Acuvue Oasys with Transitions While Training for a Half Marathon)

The truly special features of these headphones, however, were revealed to me when I wore them on race days. Even though you need the motivation playlist to get over a hill or the last few miles, sometimes you miss the magic of races when you're lost in your own musical world. But when I wore these headphones, I found I could listen to my power song ("I Can't Go Back" from the Pretty Woman Musical, in case you were wondering) yet still hear friends, family, or enthusiastic strangers cheering me on. And, let's face it, there's nothing like drawing on the excitement of a crowd in the last big push of a race.

I'm already signed up for another half and my first full marathon this year, and I know these headphones will be with me every mile along the way.

Buy It: AfterShokz Air Open-Ear Wireless Bone Conduction Headphones, $120, amazon.com

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