I looked out my window, met with the Devonshire seaside, and saw deep grey clouds on the horizon. The immensity of it was both beautiful and also slightly unwelcome given what I had planned – to test run the Jabra Elite Sport Earbuds, a teeny, tiny pair of wireless sports headphones. Would they hold up to such conditions?
Tiny but mighty
The compact headphones in front of me came in a sturdy little case, well-suited for race travel and for charging them. They are smaller in size than a bottle cap.
As I thought of the incoming storm and the 10 miles I had planned, I wondered how on earth these little diddies would stay in my ear, let along survive the storm.
What I had underestimated was that these were the Jabra Elite Sport, and they were made to face the forces of nature.
Jabra Elite Sport for running
The Jabra Elite Sport Earbuds (or earphones or headphones, or whatever you prefer to call them – they are Earbuds on the Jabra website) aren’t just for designed for running, but they are perfectly suited for it.
Designed to fit comfortably in the ears, cordless and Bluetooth compatible, these earphones are basically like little sci-fi augmentations for the audio-loving runner.
I honestly didn’t expect these earphones to fit so well when I got them, but Jabra offers multiple headphone covers that are suited to a variety of different ear sizes. Even my weirdly shaped ears found a good fit.
Jabra has also added a more ‘surrounding-aware’ setting into its headphones called Hear Through. This basically adjusts the headphones so that you can perceive noise around you more effectively, which is essential for road running.
These headphones can last up to 4.5 hours of playtime, which may not seem like much (especially on a long trail run). However, that little case I mentioned earlier also doubles as a portable charging point, ramping you up to 13.5 hours of potential play time. Not too shabby.
Admittedly, this would mean taking your headphones out and popping them in to either your race pack, running belt, or hand every now and then, but would that be such a bad thing?
It means you get a pair of headphones that could literally be with you for a full 50-mile race while still offering high-quality, bluetooth audio.
More than just music
In one of the strangest features for a set of headphones, the Jabra Elite Sport actually monitor your heart rate during use.
Now, I have no massive need for additional heart rate data, but the idea that you could, as a run-rate junkie, monitor your heart rate from your wrist, chest AND ears is pretty impressive. This will be especially valuable for those practicing an 80/20 approach to training via HR-dependent zones.
This monitoring is observed through the Jabra Sport Life app (iOS and Android), which is pretty straightforward to use. For runners looking for additional training, you can also get guided workouts and coaching points through this app, meaning that your headphones can basically become an in-ear coach.
This is likely a key benefit of the Jabra Elite Sport Earbuds because, let’s face it, it’s hard to justify spending £199 on headphones just to listen to your music on the run.
What about the price?
The additional features really do stack up though. I would never pay nearly £200 for some Bluetooth headphones. I would, however, pay that much for a piece of tech that can last a full ultra (even a 12-hour endurance one), and is waterproof, supremely comfy, can monitor my heart rate and offers training on the side.
We pay a similar price for a watch to run with and that tells us time, miles and HR usually. But headphones offer so much more.
Headphones are an escape. They’re the bravery we need when our own falters and the passer of time when boredom becomes overwhelming. They’re the jukebox playing our favourite hit, the dulcet tones of an audiobook narrator, or the cheeky chuckle of your favourite running podcast.
They’re joy and fondness and singing out loud.
What headphones provide, to some degree, can rival any watch. For some, they can even feel priceless, so it seems reasonable to me that we try to get it right, and I’d say the Jabra Elite Sport do it right.
Running with the ‘buds
I’ve used my Jabras pretty religiously since getting them, including during an 8-hour ultra where they served me well in those tricky times running alone.
I tend to use Trekz but, I have to admit, the freedom of not having a band clunk around the back of my head really does make all the difference. It allows me to engage with my run much more and I even entered a sort of audio ‘flow’ state while wearing these.
My biggest concern when using these headphones first was that they’d fall out immediately or not be able to withstand long distance events. Thankfully I have been proven wrong. Come rain, shine, or 20 miler, these headphones have shown that they’re capable of going to distance, all while offering more than any other headphone ever has to me.
Would I personally fork out £199 for them? Probably not at face value if I hadn’t run with them before. However, if I’d had a chance to try before I buy, then I would be lusting after these like a seabird over mackerel!