Running and music

Ahh running and music, a slightly contentious issue for some. Some people look at runners who wear headphones as ‘fake runners’ or being too self-absorbed, especially in races. I fully disagree.

I love listening to music and podcasts when I run. I listen to MarathonTalk and love Tony’s Trials but I always cringe when he calls runners “headphone dicks” for listening to music in races. I also hate it when races ban headphones (but I do understand the safety element if the road’s aren’t closed). I don’t think you’re any less of a runner if you listen to something when you run – even in a race. For me it heightens my experience and can take my mind off the pain of a hard run or the boredom of a long run.

A while ago I was invited to an event held by Currys discussing the impact music has on running. Unfortunately I couldn’t attend the event but they did kindly send me some information that was discussed so I could still share it.

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The main speaker was Dr Costas Karageorghis, a reader in sport psychology with an international reputation for his research into the psychological, psychophysical and ergogenic effects of music (ooh err!). His music research has been featured in newspapers around the world; most recently in the Times, Independent, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and Sydney Morning Herald.

Dr Karageorghis made some excellent points:

  • “Sometimes during a run, your body will be screaming ‘STOP’ but some well-chosen tunes can help you to temporarily ignore that stop sign.”
  • “When synching your stride rate to the beat of the music, you can increase the intensity of your run by raising the music tempo by one or two BPMs beyond your ‘comfort zone’. This will increase your stride rate with the notable additional benefit that the difference in effort will be almost imperceptible.”
  • “A motivational running playlist can help to ‘colour’ the symptoms of running-related fatigue, like burning lungs and a beating heart, so that such symptoms are interpreted in a more positive manner. This is why your choice of music may have a strong bearing on how long you adhere to a running programme.”

I highly agree with these points. I use a fast-paced playlist during parkrun when I want to run fast to keep me motivated and pushing hard.


I find it quite hard to push myself as hard without the use of a good soundtrack. Don’t get me wrong I can do it but certainly when I’m running intervals on my own my motivation and speed are far lower.

Yes music can take you away from the atmosphere of a race or you can lose touch of what’s happening around you, but I think on the whole music is a positive thing. According to research, music can elevate mood by some “10-15%, even at high running intensities and to me that is a huge benefit.

My marathon strategy has, and will be, that I have nothing for the first 10 miles to absorb the atmosphere and enjoy the race, then listen to a podcast for the next 10 miles to stop the tedium and keep my mind from thinking about how far I have left, and then for the last 10k put the music on and get those legs going. So far it’s worked perfectly.

I don’t mind being part of the “running with music” camp at all and I see it as running snobbery for those who look down on us. I think whatever makes things (legally!) easier, you should embrace.

THIS is an interesting article from RunnersWorld with some cool facts and THIS is a good link to some research.

**Full disclosure: Post in association with Curry’s and Joe Blogs**

Let’s get the excuses in now…

Right, well this is it. Last post before the inevitable. The impending doom is now almost…well, just doom I guess.

It’s like déjà vu all over again from the Paris marathon…my longest run during this training cycle (which would you believe started in June) has been 13ish miles. I’ve run that distance four times and have run 10-11 miles four times. My total mileage for the entire cycle (included the marathon) will be (all going well!!!!) 259 miles, with 348 bike miles.

So feeling a leeeetle bit unprepared. But I believe I have a good level of fitness. When I couldn’t run, I still cycled and cross-trained. Getting back into running post injuries hasn’t felt hard. I’ve consistently strength trained two or three times every week and have incorporated yoga into my week too.

My plan for the actual race? I have my paces all written up on a piece of laminated paper which, like I did in Paris, I will keep with me tucked into my sports bra and, all being well, I will stick to those paces. If it goes to plan, the first half should feel very easy. My pace is fairly consistent, though it drops slightly as I near the end (we’re talking 10 second increments, never increasing more than a total of 30 seconds from my starting pace). From experience I know that the easy pace I’ve set myself won’t feel easy at all past 16 miles. I don’t have the miles on my legs in terms of training to go any quicker later on so I’m being very very conservative.

My plan is to run 10 miles without any music or podcasts and ‘absorb’ the atmosphere and scenes (though I do have a playlist just in case I need it with ‘gentle’ songs to enjoy and keep me entertained rather than spur me to go faster), then 10-20 miles will be a podcast (BBC 5 Live Film Review) and then the last 10k I have a super duper playlist aimed to pump me up and get me going. This worked perfectly for Paris.

Marathon playlistPart of my 10k playlist 

Ben and me leave for Berlin Friday lunchtime and my dad will arrive Friday night. We have nothing planned for Saturday so we’ll probably just mosey about and take things nice and easy. Though I do hope to do a very easy shake out run of 3 miles in the morning.

Sadly Ben has decided not to run the marathon 🙁 I’m not going to lie, he’s devastated, as am I. There’s nothing I can say to make things better. We both love running so much and it’s a big part of our life, so not to be able to do it is really gutting. He saw the physio on Tuesday night and the physio suspects he’s torn his hamstring. He’s having an ultra sound in a couple of weeks to confirm. He can’t run for at least two weeks, potentially a month. But the outcome of the ultrasound will really define his recovery time. Thankfully he can still cycle and swim, but these are poor substitutions for running (in our opinion).

I feel terrible that I can run it and he can’t. I did say I wouldn’t do it, but he wants me to run it. Some consolation is that my dad will be there too and the two of them will have an adventure of their own getting to different spots around the course while also sampling some German beer beverages along the way where they can. They hope to be at mile 5, half way, mile 18 and the finish. This is hugely encouraging! I couldn’t be more grateful. But the race has less of a ‘sparkle’ now that Ben won’t be doing it too.

So there we have it. Not much can be done now. I did my last UK run this morning. To be honest, I don’t care how fast or slow I run this marathon. For me it will be a success if I finish it without shin pain or any other injury. I just want to get it done.

Have you ever been to Berlin? Any recommendations?

How do you keep yourself mentally motivated during a long run/workout or race?

Have you ever had a injury that required more than just rest?


I am on a high today! I had a truly brilliant run last night. I ran with the running club and there were only five of us in the faster group and this speedy girl and me were on fire leading the pack. I couldn’t believe it when I checked out my Garmin as we got into the run and just how good it felt.


I felt like it was at least a minute slower than we were going. We did stop a few times so the slightly slower part of our group could catch up so I guess it was like long interval running. Mile 4 and 5 did not feel that fast!!

My only worry now is that I rinsed my energy for Sunday. But you know what? I don’t even mind. Last night felt so good and I know Cheddar Gorge is going to be tough regardless. And seriously, I am not aiming for a PB. It’ll kill me!! I’m thinking at least 20 minutes slower, which I am perfectly happy about. No pressures, just enjoying the views and the challenge. It’s almost a relief this half marathon has a ridiculous course because all time pressures are gone.

After I got in, showered, put my compression socks on (my calves were so achy) and made dinner it was like 9.30pm! I had to leave my compression socks on when I went to bed to maximise the effect.

Compression socks in bed

Yep I get that look from Alfie quite frequently…He seems bewildered by my sudden love for long socks in bed. I’m the girl who has to poke my feet out of the duvet as I get so hot! I woke up in the middle of the night and had to peel them off half asleep as my feet got soo hot.

I also tested out my new hydration belt to see how well it worked and if it would be OK for Sunday.


I did want the Nathan Speed 2 belt but it wasn’t going to be dispatched until September and I couldn’t find the right size anywhere else…so I settled for the iFitness belt. The two bottles can contain roughly 170ml (6oz) of water each. Not a huge amount but just enough to not be weighty as I run. There’s also a zip up poach to fit a phone and gels in. And it has clips for a race bib. Perfect.

Hydration belt

Post-run feeling a bit sweaty…

It rode up slightly as I set out but after I got it into a good position it worked like a dream. It didn’t annoy me, get in my way, leak or bounce. Very comfortable. Thumbs up.

So this weekend is going to be crazy busy. Saturday morning Ben and me are planning on going to Parkrun for a ‘shakeout run’. Nothing crazy.

Then shower and have breakfast to then leave for my work’s annual summer BBQ (at the boss’s mansion house, ooh err). I can’t believe it’s a year since the last one!! Now my aim for that BBQ is to be sensible with what I eat.

Let me put this into perspective, last year I ate three and a half puddings. and we’re not talking mini puddings here. There was a slice of Victoria sponge…a brownie…a scone…and half of something else which I can’t remember…I obviously didn’t like it too much as I only ate half Winking smile


Oh man, I even found a photo documenting the evidence ^^… that was clearly round one of the puddings.

Anyway, my plan is to enjoy the food on offer (particularly the carbs!) and not go crazy on the sweet stuff. Obviously I won’t turn down pudding entirely but I will be sensible and stick to three two two two one.

The BBQ will go on until 5, so then we’ll get back and just chill and have a light dinner (I imagine we’ll only manage a light dinner after the BBQ! But I don’t want to have nothing). Then up early to go-go-go to Cheddar Gorge, which will take around 2 hours.

No time to chill this weekend! Ho hum.

All preparations have been made beforehand so I don’t get too stressed on Saturday…the list of stuff I need to remember:

  • Water with electrolyte tablets
  • Gels
  • Hydration belt
  • Hat
  • Suntan lotion
  • Chafing stuff
  • Safety pins
  • Headphones

And my playlist has been created:


I have quite an eclectic music taste I guess. I wanted music to ‘pump me up’ and keep pushing me, but also not be too pounding in my ears as 13 miles is quite a long way to go! I’m loving Half Moon Run at the moment and Bastille. And I’m a huge Mumford and Sons fan (can you tell?). But can’t go wrong with a little bit of Kanye as well Winking smile

I much prefer running with music when I’m racing as it stops me from thinking “man this hurts” or dwelling on speed and pace. I can just sort of ‘connect’ with my running. But not all races let you where headphones (safety shmafety! Winking smile). But this one is off-road so no issues! Hurrah.

So now all is left to do is run. Wish me luck!

What are you doing this weekend?

What’s your next race or event you’re planning for?

What’s on your workout playlist?