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25 June, 2014 0 comments

running and music


Running with Music

Running with music is a topic that’s very much up for debate, it is an emotive subject. Should you listen to music while running? Running purists and traditionalists will say no. But others will say yes, done safely what's the harm in listening to some pump-up tunes during a hard workout?!

Some people will love it and other runners will hate it. But the facts are that running with music helps a majority of runners enjoy their exercise. A Runner's World survey (of 3,523 runners) revealed that 75% of respondents were "for running with music", while other surveys show even higher results. However, the sound of your feet hitting the ground should be all the music you need, right?! Some runners have tried running without headphones, and iPod, mp3 player and loved it. Running without music blasting in your ears gives a whole new appreciation for the sport, the hobby and your goals. You may even feel a lot more in tune with your body and what is externally going on around you, but also internally as far as paying attention to your breathing and the way your feet hit the ground. Focusing on your effort level and your surroundings can increase the pleasure of the run and the intensity you work at rather than the song that's playing in your ears. But also, running without headphones is a lot more social and increases opportunity to talk, run with a buddy and increase your goals with a partner, without having to shout over Lady Gaga. Running without music can increase your safety awareness and you will have a much better chance of hearing that car hurtling around the corner and the tones of engines that decide that they’re going to turn in front of you. Leaving your headphones at home allow you to be safe when you run. Running against traffic in high Vis allows people to see you as a running but with your music off you stand a chance to prevent rather than react to any dangers. You may well love running with music, however after you have tried running with nature not music you may well love your run even more.

Ok, believe it or not there is science to help you with your dilemma of running with music. Here it comes. The science is more revealing,  Professor Andy Lane, a sports psychologist from the University of Wolverhampton (and a three-hour marathon runner himself) undertook a project seeking to understand the effectiveness of music to help (1,100) runners regulate their positive and negative emotions. The findings showed motivating music helped improve performance. This is very interesting as another research project at John Moores University, 12 people rode an indoor bike at a pace they could sustain for 30 minutes while listening to a song of their own choice. In the second trial they rode again with the tempo of the music variously increased or decreased by 10% without the subject’s knowledge. The findings showed riders' heart rate and mileage decreased when the tempo was slowed, while they rode a greater distance, increased their heart rate and enjoyed the music more at the faster tempo. Though the participants thought their workout was harder at the more upbeat tempo, the researchers found that when they exercised to faster-paced music: "the participants chose to accept, and even prefer, a greater degree of effort". Surely this is all the evidence you need? Preferring to work harder because the tempo of music is greater, sounds good to me.

However, you may be new to running, or finding your stride difficult and having problems with motivation. Well then preferring to run harder due to the music tempo may not sound appealing. Although, the sound of your favourite emotion stirring songs can only be a distraction from the searing pain pin-balling back and forth between legs and lungs.

Many runners use their time as escapism and an opportunity to be alone with body and mind, and the chance for a reflective hour unaccompanied. However there is a time when the run requires a bit more, emphasis or motivation, we’ve all had them! Those tired legged runs, the wet weather runs, the filler runs on a training schedule can all do with a bit of inspiration. Studies have shown that external stimuli such as music can block out some of your fatigue and spur you to longer distances and faster miles, reducing your perception of your body's limitations. Waiting until the last three miles of a run to press on your favourite play list can very well bust those running blues, making sure the only wall you will be hitting is by Pink Floyd!

Safety can be an issue however, regardless of the role music plays on your performance. Running the risk of stumbling onto train tracks, wandering into traffic, or just missing the polite warnings of a fellow runner moving past can be missed with severe consequences. There are ways around this, dropping an ear bud to allow for external noise to seep in is helpful, limiting the run to off road trails or even gym treadmills, but for tech seekers there are ear clips that don't block ambient sound. Listening to music is another tool that can be a part of your training regime and with this is should be treated with same preparation, accountability, moderation and forethought.

Music can elevate mood, allows for the change of pace and spurs on the most tired of legs late on during a run. Enjoying the company of a running buddy is important part of your running schedule also due to the commitment and support this can bring but everything needs to happen in moderation and used at the right time. The opportunity to use music as a performance enhancing tool is there when needed, if not, you are at one with nature and your body. However a well thought out training regime will dictate whether you need that tool at this moment or not!

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