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Should you listen to music while running?

Posted Nov 04 2009 10:00pm

A friend of mine (who I proudly inspired to start running) sent me this article about listening to music while running. Essentially, the experts say that listening to music can be beneficial for your performance. They note the following findings from research.

Four factors make music motivational

These are the characteristics of songs that make them motivational. baby headphones

1. Rhythm response – Syncs up your heart rate & the beat of the song.
2. Musicality – This is related to the melody & harmony of a song.
3. Cultural impact – A factor impacted by the culture in which you were raised.
4. Association – Related to what kind of memories the song inspires.

Benefits of listening to music

The article goes on to give the benefits of running to the right music.

These include…

1. Use less oxygen
2. Blocks out the voice in your head telling you to quit.
3. Improvement in endurance

Researchers also found that increasing music speed actually increased pedal speed of bikers & decreasing music speed decreased cyclist’s speed. Basically, we naturally match our tempo to the music that is playing.

Finally, the article links to a software plug-in that works with your iTunes library to pick the right song list for you. I don’t know how well it works, but it is an interesting notion.

Running, Juggling & Listening

It should be noted that in most races it is against the rules to listen to music while running. Some races, like the Grandma’s Marathon in Minnesota, actually threaten to disqualify runners who wear headphones. This seems a bit draconian to me.

While I don’t really need music to run (I did my first 12 marathons without any headphones), I do like to listen to it. Although, I much prefer listening to audio books and podcasts. Music is great but talk programs are less boring to me.

But based on this research, perhaps music could improve my joggling speed. That might be an experiment worth trying.

Do you listen to music while you run? What kind? Leave a comment below.

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