Helen Twose 's Opinion

Personal finance and KiwiSaver columnist at the NZ Herald

Jog On: Running to the beat

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There are pros and cons of running with music.
Photo / Thinkstock
There are pros and cons of running with music. Photo / Thinkstock

While the idea of bounding along to The Black Keys belting out Lonely Boy appeals, running is my quiet time.

I like to empty my head and focus on the rhythms of my body, set against a background of cicadas, birds and the rumble of traffic. Which is the real reason I don't wear headphones.

Because I tend to run on suburban streets I feel I need to keep my wits about me if I'm not going to come off second best to a car driver flying out of their driveway or failing to see me at an intersection.

Running to music has stirred up a bit of debate among runners with Runner's World magazine setting out the pros and cons for jogging to the beat.

In Auckland 1,598 pedestrians were injured between 2006 and 2010, with 42 fatalities and 377 serious injuries, according to statistics collected by the New Zealand Transport Agency.

The most common way to find yourself becoming a temporary hood ornament is to be hit by a car approaching from the right while crossing the road. Intersections are a danger zone, as is the time period between 3pm and 6pm. Obviously the central city features highly in the top 10 crash sites list, but New Lynn is another pedestrian accident hotspot.

Auckland Transport has recently run campaigns to focus the minds of pedestrians at intersections.

It cites crash data showing pedestrians are often at fault, usually as a result of being distracted or not checking before they step, when hit by cars.

Hence the reason why I don't run with music. I'm vague and distracted at the best of times and adding some banging beats into the mix would not be helpful. In saying that, I get thoroughly peeved at cars failing to give way when crossing the footpath, whether it be a residential driveway or the entrance to the service station. The only exception to this rule is if the curb and stormwater drains curve in to form an extension to the road, in which case cars have right of way.

I also have a couple of arterial roads on my run route with flush medians - a section in the middle of the road marked with diagonal lines. The purpose of the flush median is to allow cars to turn in and out of driveways or side roads without slowing the flow of traffic. In my neck of the woods the flush median has become a de facto third lane (an illegal manoeuvre, creating a real hazard if you've not got all your senses tuned in. For the record, it is also illegal for pedestrians to run or walk in these lanes - it's purely a place to pause and review your options when crossing a busy road.

All this poring over crash statistics and the road code had me hunting through the drawers for an ancient bit of running kit. Not a manky old running tee with some sentimental fondness attached and an odour to match (Tip: use antibacterial laundry wash to rid a lingering pong).

What I was after was an old reflective running belt dating back to the height of the 80s jogging boom. It's a real heirloom piece, originally used by my mother as a young mum getting fit after the birth of her fourth child.

It's going to be put to some use over the winter months when I'm forced to run in the pre-dawn and after-dark hours. Teamed up with my new bright orange running tee it should be blindingly obvious when I'm out for a jog.

Twitter: @Jog_On_NZ

Events:

* Burn off the hot cross bun goodness with the Nelson Mail 10km and 5km run. Good Friday, $5 to enter.

Do you prefer to do exercise while listening to music?

Helen Twose

Personal finance and KiwiSaver columnist at the NZ Herald

Helen Twose is a freelance business journalist who writes regularly about KiwiSaver and entrepreneurial companies. She has written for the Business Herald since 2006, covering the telecommunications sector, but has more recently focused on personal finance and profiling successful businesses.

Read more by Helen Twose

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