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