Music and Running
January 23, 2019
Some runners like to run with their headphones in listening to music and others like to run without music so they can listen to their body and the nature around them. Is one method better than the other? Many research articles state that listening to music helps you run faster.
The first research between music and exercise was done in 1911 on cyclists. They found that cyclists pedaled faster while music was playing than when it was silent. In 2012, research found that cyclists who listened to music required 7% less oxygen to do the same work as cyclists who rode in silence. Study after study shows that athletes who workout with music work harder than those who do not. This is because music changes people’s perception of their own effort throughout a workout. It distracts us from pain and fatigue which elevates our mood so it increases our endurance.
Music tempo and loudness also affects our running ability. Many runners think that the louder and faster the music is, the faster they will run. So what is the perfect match for your running style? If you are putting a playlist together to better your run, you will need to take a few things into consideration. Some smartphone apps like Songza and jog.fm help people match the tempo of their workout with music. They have songs ranging from 180 bpm to 130 bpm. Research suggests that a ceiling effect occurs at 145 bpm. Anything higher does not seem to contribute overall motivation or speed. Many people do not need to feel the music to run in exact time, however moving rhythmically to a beat may help the body use energy more efficiently. Music affects everyone’s brain differently so you will need to experiment with different playlists on different runs.
Running with music all of the time can also have an adverse effect where you don’t notice it anymore. The more you use music, the more it will desensitize you and you will not see any benefits. The optimal method is generally using music for two sessions and then one session without. You will not become desensitized and you will be able to use it during your race.
Music has many benefits but is not for everyone. It is one of those things that you need to practice with, just like nutrition. Remember, safety first when using music. Make sure you can hear your surroundings especially when running outside and also keep it at a safe volume to not damage your hearing.