Soon, I will have the hearing of an 87 year old man, and I'll be asking everyone to repeat what they just said. That's because I listen to my MP3 player at volumes that I think are unwise for my poor eardrums. I like to have it loud enough to really feel the music while I'm running; you know, so you can feel that bass line in your chest like a heartbeat. It helps me keep motivated for the run and helps me block out the chatter that surrounds me at the gym (I swear, some music cannot drown out two women talking, and for some reason, it especially bugs me when they have a conversation so loud I can still hear them over my music, and it really gets on my nerves when they are talking really loud in another language; at least when it's English I can eavesdrop and get in our their gossip).
Some people like to strike up conversation with anyone, and as I've mentioned before, I am not the sort who likes to be on the receiving end of that kind of conversation. But there are others, mostly middle aged women, who arrive at the gym in pairs, and they talk the whole while to one another, and I don't know why, but it just annoys me. (Seems like they could put that extra air to better uses.) But with the headphones, it is clear that I don't want to chat -- they are an automatic banter-blocker.
However, I fear this seclusion comes at a price. I've been running off and on ever since I was in middle school when I ran on the school track team, and all those years I ran with music. Back in the day, I lugged around a walkman and various mix tapes my friends and I made for each other. Later, technology advanced, and I was able to purchase a small am/fm radio that strapped onto my arm, but I hated getting commercials on my runs, so when those portable CD players came out, I was on top of those. But the down side to those was that you only got to listen to one CD, and unless that CD was chock full of good running tunes, you had to jog through the slow songs or the songs you didn't really like that much. Thankfully, portable music has advanced leaps and bounds in the past two or three years (and I really think exercisers are those responsible for the changes), and MP3s have become something of a miracle.
But added up, that's about 15 years of music being piped directly into my ear canals, and I'm pretty sure those miniature bones are taking a beating. Sometimes I leave the MP3 player at home just so I can give my little ears a rest, but I know the damage has been done, and what I'm hoping for is that by the time I'm old, they'll be able to just give me an ear transplant, and I won't need to worry about safeguarding my delicate ear drums. With my brand new ears, I'll be able to listen to music at all kinds of volumes!