It's not just your imagination. Listening to music actually does improve your performance -- significantly. One recent study in the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology found that runners who listened to motivating music enhanced their endurance by 15 percent. Of course, your music-listening experience -- whether you're training for a marathon or swimming laps -- is only as good as the headphones the tunes come through. We checked out the newest sports-specific headphones on the market to find the most comfortable, durable, ready-for-action models out there. Here are five that can keep up with you:
If you're an extreme athlete, marathon runner or triathlete
Try: Yurbuds Ironman Series Ear Phones
Sick of ear buds that didn't cut it on tough terrain or during intense workouts, Ironman triathlete Seth Burgett and 24-time marathoner Richard Daniels set out to develop headphones that not only stay put while you work out, but also pump out rich, I-feel-like-I'm-at-a-concert sound. The earbud itself is designed by audiologists and engineers to avoid nerve-rich areas, so you don't get any of that annoying inner ear soreness, even on (ugh) long run days. Simply stick the "bud" in your ear, then twist it counter clockwise until it locks into place (you'll know because it'll feel customized for your canal). And don't worry about weather or the buckets of sweat pouring off your head; it's nothing the medical-grade silicon casings can't handle.
Get it: $49.99, yurbuds.com
If you're a gym rat (and looking for a bargain!)
Try: JVC's HA-EBX5 sports clip
Yep, what you'll notice first about these splash-proof sports clips are the flashy, Crayola-like color options. But make no mistake, these ear buds aren't just fashionable, they're comfortable, too, with three sizes of silicone earpieces included to personalize the fit. The soft rubber hook hugs your outer ear to hold the earpieces tightly in place during high-impact workouts. And if they get stolen from your gym locker, no need to freak out -- the price is right.
Get it: $19.95, jvc.com
If you're a swimmer
Try: H2O Audio Interval 4G Waterproof Headphone System for iPod
OK, so you need to own an iPodShuffle ($49) but it's worth it. H2O Audio engineers worked with 11-time Olympic medalist Natalie Coughlin to develop the Interval, which is the only waterproof iPod case designed for swimmers. Simply put your Shuffle in the 2-by-2.75-inch case, then attach it to the back of your goggles. Stick in the earbuds, and you're set to swim laps with Kanye. "Bringing music in the pool with me makes swimming laps more fun," said Coughlin. "Having the right playlist keeps me focused and motivated to get the most out of my workout."
Get it: $99.99, H2Oaudio.com
If you're a runner
Try: Senneheiser Adidas MX 680
These earbud-style headphones are water-, sweat- and rain-resistant -- ideal for the runner who sticks to her training schedule, no matter what the weather. The most unique feature on the 680 is a rubber "fin" extension that tucks into your ear, keeping the headphones from jostling around during your run. Oh, and if you find nothing more irritating than a dangling cord swinging around as you pound the pavement, you'll love the detachable extension cable which has a clothing clip to eliminate tangles.
Get it: $69.95, sennheiser.com
If you're an athletic audiophile (read: sound snob)
Try: Klipsch S5i Rugged in-ear headphones
Most headphones designed for supreme sound are bulky and uncomfortable for long periods of wear -- in other words, totally not ideal for the athlete. But these headphones are the exception. The earbuds are soft and well-fit, mega durable and moisture resistant. Then there's the sound. We'll spare you the details about the "moving coil micro-speaker" and "dual magnet motor structures" and leave it at this: Whether you're a fan of Mumford & Sons or Ludacris, the bass and clear sound will blow you away.
Get it: $129.99, klipsch.com