Music – The natural motivator
Have you ever heard the expression “Music to my ears”? I guess we all have. We use this expression to point out that something is pleasing to hear, such as good news. Well, in a way, that what music does to humans.
Music is indeed a natural motivator. It can be the foundation of pleasure and happiness. It can also have many different psychological benefits as well.
Music is probably one of the best influencers in the world. It can influence our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Everybody, sometime in our lives, felt pumped up while listening to your favorite rock song. Or even moved to tears by another soft song or a tender live performance. These human reactions to the tune can help you understand the power of music. The power to impact moods and even inspire action.
Have you ever responded to a tune by tapping your toes or drumming your fingers? As humans, it’s in our DNA to respond to rhythm. Scientific studies have shown that music can help you move in the best, most effective way possible, mainly in the context of sports activity.
The benefits of music
Music helps you enhance your activity performance, endurance, and recovery makes exercise more enjoyable. The connection between music and exercise performance is strong.
If you apply that to running, music can help you run faster, longer and smoother. Music can also help calm your nerves before a race. It can make running a more pleasant experience.
Every runner, now and then, experiences a bad day, when running is the least thing they want to do. For those days, your favorite playlist may be precisely what you need. It will give you the extra pump, the extra motivation, you need.
Compelling tunes can help runners elevate their mindset to endure training run. Music advances the positive aspects of mood. It offers you excitement and happiness. On the other hand, it reduces negative features such as stress, exhaustion, and tension.
The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research observed that listening to music before a training run will get you fired up and prepare you for what’s to come.
And that’s not all. If you flip on your playlist, following a particular beat can help you properly regulate your pace. It can help you keep the same precise pace with less effort. Even more, matching the tune with your stride can help you refine your stride to make you a more efficient runner.
However, maximizing the compelling benefits of music requires a bit of planning and effort. It is better to take your time and choose your playlist carefully. This way, it is most likely that you’ll get the most out of it. It is important to note that listening to the right music at the right time will give you the results you anticipate. However, if the playlist selection is not properly allocated, then opposite results may come. Slow-tempo songs could slow down your pace. For instance, the last thing you want to hear is a slow song right when you start marching up a hill. Playing upbeat, fast-tempo songs will elevate you. So, take your time and prepare the perfect running playlist for you.
Running without music
However, many runners prefer running without music. This way they can concentrate on running fundamentals, such as their breathing or pace. Music simply distracts them. They prefer being present and aware of their surroundings. They argue that running without music is more appealing to their emotions. However, we cannot ignore the extensive studies on the beneficial effects of music while running. These show that music increases concentration, reduces the impression of effort, and provides ongoing stimulus. An upbeat tempo song increases the activity in the ascending reticular activating system, which leads to faster efforts with less realized effort.
It’s obvious that music stimulates people to run more frequently. It gives you the lost motivation to get you up and get you out for a run. It offers the proper inspiration to keep going when the run is long and boring.
Still, researches have shown that if the music is used correctly, it can actually help runners with pacing while training. A modern study proved that runners performed better when the beat of the music matched their cadence than when they ran without music. Fast beat songs exceeding 120 BPM (beats per minute), in most cases, work perfectly for high-intensity workouts. Low tempo songs with less than 120 BPM is optimal for exercises requiring less effort such as a long run.
Is it just the music or the motivation effect of it?
All studies and researches indicate that the increasing performance effects of music are a result of improved motivation. In any activity in life physical or mental, motivation plays a significant role. We have the perception that it’s much easier and effortless to run outside when it’s sunny than when it’s rainy, cold or windy. Similarly, the benefits of fast-paced music have been demonstrated by several studies. However, they all have similar settings: amateur athletes, usually running alone on a treadmill or doing stationary bicycle. In these neutral or even dull conditions, music normally elevates the athlete to improve his performance.
But when the settings of the study change and the subject is more experienced or even a professional athlete the effects of the music will decrease dramatically. Now, position the athlete in a real competitive environment and the impact of the music on the results will virtually disappear.
When the athlete is insufficiently motivated, in cases of cold, windy weather, it is likely to underperform. In the case of the actual race, you’ll likely already be very stimulated and ready to go.
Define Your Goals
In case of you hoping to extend your long run from 10k to 15k, you have to choose music that you really like. Choose music that entertains you and distracts you from the training dullness and monotony.
In case of a shorter run, you usually try to increase the pace and speed is the key, try to choose upbeat music. Songs just above 120 BPM to 130 BPM are ideal for fast tempo running. However, try to avoid songs beyond 150 BMP as they are too fast and can interrupt your pace.
If you choose to listen to music while running, you have to ensure its safe use. If you’re running in the city, in a high traffic area or on an exposed road, you should stay alert. This means keeping your volume down or choosing headphones that promote situational awareness, like AfterShokz.
So, should you listen to music while running?
Well, the choice is yours. Sometimes you might prefer music, some others not. Whatever you choose, know that there is not one or the other decision.