Running is a great way to lose weight and get fit. For others, running gives peace of mind. It allows them an escape from the problems of the day. Whatever the reason is, running is one of the world’s most popular exercise activities. People set aside a few days every week to indulge in their favourite sport. However, repetitive activity can be monotonous. For serious runners, the longer the distance gets the more motivation they need. If you want to add more bounce to your stride, run with music!
Running With Music Through The Years
They’re becoming more commonplace. You see them in the gym, the park, and on runners pounding the pavement. For those who haven’t used them, they may look clunky and uncomfortable. But those large-sized headphones that blares crystal clear music into the user’s ears make exercise more effective and fun.
Music has always been a big part of fitness. In the 1980’s, aerobics was a big thing. Instructors laid out their aerobic dance programs with its own exercise music playlist. Sony introduced a portable music player that would be the runner’s, and walker’s favourite companion, the “Sony Walkman”.
Digital technology introduced more compact portable music players. We saw the evolution of the “Discman” to the MP3 to the iPod. Today you can download a playlist of songs on your smartphone that would make a good running mix.
Technology may have changed but most runners and exercise enthusiasts haven’t. They still like to run or exercise with music.
Manufacturers of audio technology have taken notice. Engineering teams have factored in vigorous exercise such as running into the design’s consideration. Earphones are shaped to fit snugly so they would not fall out while running or jumping. You can find wireless headsets that remove the inconvenience of the cord getting in the way of your arm movement.
The answer may seem obvious but why do people love running with music? Does music help with your running?
5 Benefits Of Running With Music
Ask anybody wearing headphones while exercising, “Why do you exercise with music?” Chances are they will give you one of these answers:
- “Music makes workouts less boring”
- “Music wakes me up”
- “Music gives me energy”
Runners will probably give you the same reasons. Performed as a steady-state activity, running may seem less exciting than Cross Fit- type workouts or High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).
Still, running remains a proven way of losing weight, burning calories, and improving cardiovascular fitness. The key to getting maximum benefits from running is to stay consistent with the program. This is where running with music can help you achieve your health and fitness goals:
In the mid-1970’s, the soundtrack from “Rocky” was a favourite source of running motivation. How many people have run up the steps of the Philadelphia Library like Rocky Balboa?
Then in the 1980’s, the Olympics-period piece, “Chariots of Fire” and opening theme became a mainstay track in every runner’s good running mix. Rocky Balboa came back in a big way with “Eye of the Tiger” from “Rocky III”.
Fast-forward today and some runners still have these compositions in their running or exercise music playlist. They are timeless and classic. Most of all, they give runners stronger motivation to keep running.
Music is an intuitive experience. It moves you. We listen to the lyrics and find deeper meaning to it. That’s why people are motivated by certain forms of music. They are able to establish a connection with the lyrics, the rhythm, or the melody.
It is also an individual experience. A runner may feel inspired by Wilhelm Richard Wagner’s “Flight of the Valkyries” while another would respond better to Metallica’s “Sad But True”.
Regardless of your taste and sensitivities, you can find inspiration and motivation for running by listening to your favourite music.
Keeps You Focused and Alert
After a long and tiring day at work or school, sometimes you need a powerful jolt of energy to stay focused and alert. Coffee, even a double shot espresso, may not be enough.
If coffee does not work, chase it down with a shot of your favourite song. Find the one that pumps you up for running. Again, tastes will vary.
Some may like the soothing beats of Brazilian samba music to get primed for a 5k run. Others may prefer the driving beats of an AC/DC classic like “Highway to Hell” before pounding the pavement.
In your list of great jogging songs, include a few numbers that work best in keeping you focused and alert.
Helps You Maintain the Desired Running Pace
You can’t run a 10k using the same pace you would for a 3k. Your pace should be more measured or deliberate when running longer distances because you have to conserve energy.
Studies have shown that for longer distances, running tunes which have 166 bpm or beats per minute work best in helping you maintain the desired running pace.
What are some of the best running songs at 166bpm?
- “Secret” by Quietdrive
- “I Have Questions” by Camilla Cabello
- “Light and Dust” by Lauren Shera
For faster paced running, songs that go at 180bpm are recommended. Some songs that could be part of a good running mix list include:
- “Black and Blue Bird” by The Dave Matthews Band
- “They Don’t Care About Us” by Michael Jackson
- “What I Am” by Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians
If you have other songs that you would prefer to put on your running playlist, these samples will give you an idea of how the right beat should go.
Guides Proper Breathing Technique
In a long distance run, correct breathing will help you manage your energy and allow you to stay on pace. If your timing is off, you will have laboured breathing and this will make you expel unnecessary energy.
Like your cadence, proper breathing technique also depends on rhythm and timing. If you’ve been running for quite a while, you have a good idea how many strides you take in between breaths.
Your breath intervals are like the beats of a song. Listening to music will help you keep pace on your correct breathing technique and intervals.
Allows You to Stay on Top of Your Running Program
Some runners use music to mark specific areas of their program. For example, the warm up which is generally slow, would require a slow tempo song. If you plan to do intervals by alternating between a 9km/hr. pace and a 12km/hr. pace you could switch songs that go from 166bpm to 190bpm.
At the cool down stage, you can bring the tempo down to 150bpm.
Here’s a sample running playlist that could be used for this type of interval training:
- Warm up – 150bpm; “What Are You Waiting For” by Nickelback
- 9k/hr. Pace – 166bpm; “Don’t You Know Who I Think I Am” by Fall Out Boy
- 12km/hr. Pace – 190bpm; “Back Where I Belong” by Sum 41
- Warm Down – 150bpm; “When I’m Gone” by 3 Doors Down
Add to the playlist to extend your run. These songs will give you an idea on the tempo you need to stay on top of your running program
In a nutshell, music makes running fun and enjoyable. If you’re stressed out, music will soothe your frayed nerves before hitting the treadmill or the road.
But is there scientific evidence that exists to support music’s benefits for running?
A study conducted by Brazilian researchers and which was published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research showed that music helped runners maintain or exceed pace for a 5km run thereby resulting in faster times.
The researchers believed that music decreased the level of vagal tone which affects the function of the internal organs and the Central Nervous System (CNS). In other words, music helped the runners better prepare and anticipate the demands of the run.
However, the study continued that the benefits of music with relation to speed or pace decreased with longer runs such as a 10k. The researchers theorized that after 5km, the runner’s body, organs, and CNS have all adjusted to the demands of the run, therefore diminishing the benefits of music.
Scientific evidence aside, just go ahead, put on those oversized headphones, play your awesome playlist and run for the fun of it!