Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Music: Is it a help or a hindrance to your running performance.

I like listening to music when I run, although lately I have switched to listening to podcasts, to help the time and the miles fly by.  There always seems to be a lot of discussion about listening to music when running either in training or while racing.  I didn't listen to music for my first couple races because I thought it was against the rules, but everyone else was so I started to also.  I think it helps me stay motivated and to find motivation during a race when I am struggling.

Pros of running with music
1. Music can be motivating.  It can help push you harder, faster and farther.
2. It can relax the mind and elevate positive emotions and feelings while diminishing bad ones like fatigue.
3. It adds fun to the run
4. It can make the time fly by faster.
5. It can reduce the perception of how hard you are running by 10%

Cons of running with music
1.Music stimulates you and can push you harder faster, and farther, which can result in injuries.
2. It will relax your mind.  What's so bad about that?  Injuries once again.
3.It can lock you into a certain tempo, then when the song changes and there is a new tempo you body can    revolt!
4.There is the whole safety issue.  You may not be able to hear that truck coming up behind you.
5.You may not ever achieve any serious result.  It takes focus to train.  You will probably have noticed elite/professional runners do not run or train with music on.  They instead focus on their bodies and the training. When you run with music you don't hear your breathing or footfalls, you get cut off from your running.
6. You may become dependent on the music and lose sight of what is truly motivating to you about running.

sources Fitbie,

RW: So how can runners use music to their best advantage?
PRO: The benefits from music tend to occur at low to moderate running intensities. I would say it's best to use on your easy running days. We've also been investigating the synchronous application of music. This is where an athlete consciously ties in his or her stride rate to the rhythm of music. This can actually result in more efficient oxygen use during running. To do synchronous running, you figure out your stride rate for your pace, then find music with beats that are slightly above that stride rate—one or two beats per minute higher than your normal stride rate should do it (thebpmbook.com; ez-tracks.com). We've also found that the optimal method is generally two sessions with music for one session without. If you use music for every workout, you can become desensitized to it or rely on it in races. source

Another website that will give you songs by beats per minute is found here

Tell me your thoughts.  Do you run with music sometimes, all the time or never and  why?

I do for races, sometimes on speedwork  although less and less lately, I listen to it at the end on long runs for a little motivation.  I do notice that the more I run the less music I listen to.  I do listen to a lot of podcasts though and so I think I my new goal will be to do one run a week with no music or podcasts so I can pay more attention to my body, how I am feeling and my form.        


  1. I only listen to music when I run with the stroller. I do that because I don't want to hear whining the whole way :) I can see the kid, so I know if she actually needs me, but I'd rather listen to loud country music than her whining about dropping yet another Goldfish.

    I think people use music as a crutch "Oh, I can't run without my iPod!" etc. If they actually tried, it would be fine. I don't race with music, either it's not allowed (trail races) or it takes away from the experience (MCM)

  2. I have to have music or something to listen to while running. Right now I'm back in to running with Army cadences and I LOVE it. I've kept on tempo and pace. I don't think I could run very far at all without music. I totally agree, though, that when the music changes it makes it hard to get back in a study pace.

  3. So so interesting that you brought this up because I have been thinking about this topic a lot lately. I recently started running without music and it has been amazing to me how much my fitness has improved! I used to like to listen to music because I didn't like to hear myself breathe but now that I have paid more attention to my breathing it has definitely improved my fitness. I am like you in that I like running without music but also like to have it as a safety net to help me through the last few miles.

  4. I actually just started thinking about this in my race yesterday. I usually just listen to podcasts, but I used music yesterday. I ended up feeling awful when I couldn't keep up with the beat, so I turned it off and ran WAY better.

  5. I started out running listening to music....but the when I went to my cottage last week and there was a potential bear threat, I thought I'd better keep the ipod in my pocket :) I don't know if it was the scenery or whatever but I LOVED it!!! the next trail run I did I didn't use music either....and neither the next after that.

    So I think I like to use music when the scenery is boring and I like to listen to the sounds of nature when I'm running on a trail. My first race is coming up in October and I don't plan on bringing my ipod. Hopefully that is a good decision :)

  6. Your quote on your header is just what I needed today. So thank you for that.

    I enjoy running with music. Unless I'm on the treadmill I only wear one ear bud so that I can hear what's going on around me.

  7. I hate music when I race, and rarely use it when I run outside. When I am on the treadmill (for a long run) I like music or to watch something because it just seems to boring to me... But I like to concentrate when I run... on my form, my breathing, my pace, etc. so I don't use music too often.

  8. That's such a great explanation of all things music/running related! I never use music unless I am forced onto the treadmill. There are several reasons why not, but the biggest is just that I love to have all my senses open to the running experience.

  9. I almost always run with music, but I agree that sometimes I get bored and/or desensitized by it. I've had some songs on my running playlist for a year or two now, and I tend to slow down or space out when those ones come on. Switching up the playlist or going sans iPod once in a while at least is good for the running soul, I think.

  10. I have never run with music and even on a treadmill I would watch tv or a movie but never with ear buds.

    I don't like ear buds or headphones to start with ... but just love to hear everything going on around me when I run - except the noise in my own head!

    I also think it is a safety issue. I particularly notice when we are bike riding on trails, we use the bike bell to let walkers and runners know we are passing them... the ones with their 'ears' on usually don't even hear the bell.

  11. What podcasts do you listen to?

  12. I always listen to music...i dunno, i just don't like listening to myself huffing & puffing while I'm running. :) I do tire of my playlists quickly, which is a bummer.

  13. I have been weaning myself off music. It wasn't really intentional--I like listening to music on runs--but I found that if I save it for when it really counts (when I want to go FAST) it helps to not have had it on the whole time.

    So I don't take it on easy runs at all any more. I only play it for the second half of long runs and the speedy portion of speed workouts and progression runs. For my marathon in eleven days, I'll turn it on for the last eight miles. Oh, and I don't ever listen to music on trail runs. Those are all about the five senses, and I wouldn't want to be eaten by a mountain lion because I was all caught up in Florence + the Machine. :^)

  14. I don't ever run with music, because I hate running with headphones/earbuds anyway. But--I have to say that on the treadmill I like to have some background music on, especially for long runs to make time to by faster.

  15. Ahh, I haven't been able to comment on your blog for awhile...I don't know why but it looks like it is back to normal. Feisty blogger.

    Anywho, I just ran my 1/2 marathon yesterday with my ipod. While I do see the fact that it can distract your mind, I think it depends on the person. I listened to quite a random mix of songs that either pump me up or leave me feeling inspired and I think that it helped. But I have to be in the right mood for it.

    I like that you can crank the volume up and not hear your breathing if it is heavy.

  16. I used to be 100% dependent on it, but since headphones were strictly banned for hood to coast, I gave it up. I still use it but I don't *need* it. I can listen to my body so much better when I'm music-less though

  17. I used to listen to music when I first got into running. I would listen every run and hated running without it. As I moved to the trails, I started listening to music less and less. I also realized that I probably shouldn't run at night listening to music...I only listen to it once in a while on part of the second half of long runs.

  18. I use my iPod during nearly every run on the treadmill. I won't ever use it for speed workouts. I'll use it for half marathons (only started this year) because the right motivational song seems to come on at the moment I need it most. I'll never use it outside on a training run. I'm already too scared of the cyclists and creeps on the trail (at least 2 people have been attacked on the lakefront lately) to wear music- plus I love hearing nature- or nothing- or the pitter patter of my feet.

    Pod casts seem like a good idea. I might have to switch out the tunes for some stories.

  19. I run with music when I'm on the treadmill. It's the only compensation for making myself run nowhere and look at nothing. Other than that, I go without. Partly for safety and partly just because it's what I'm used to. We couldn't race with it in high school or college, so I didn't think I should train with it and that just feels normal now. I usually get a line or two of a song stuck in my head and sing it over and over again throughout my run...

  20. I use my ipod for gym use only. Not running. I found that I cannot hear the pitter patter of my feet when I'm "plugged in". It screws with my form somehow.

  21. I love music and I love to run. If it makes any sense, I sometimes run so I can listen to my music. I am on the road a lot for work and the ipod is hooked through my speakers the whole time. I usually get behind on what new music is on the radio for that reason. I have run without music for many years and school but I enjoy it too much to let it go now. I will have to look into those sites you referenced. I have seen other people post about the varying bpm for songs so that would be pretty neat to organize running playlists that way.

  22. I'm used to running with music. Monday, when I pulled out my iPod for my 1/2, it was locked up - good thing I had a great friend to chat with the whole race, otherwise I think I would have really struggled :)

  23. I would normally say I have to have music but a for my NF 10K I forgot my music and I think it made me do better. I dont know though, its a tough one for me.


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