Does music make you a better runner? Many would argue it can, while just as many argue you should go without. Let’s take a look a bit more in depth and find out what impacts in really has
For many people who are new to the sport or even veterans, music can make running enjoyable and gives you the motivation to continue and fight the fatigue. On the opposite side of that a lot of runners prefer a pure experience, saying that without music they can get a better sense of their environment and their own bodies.
Studies and information
So what’s the answer? Well it seems there isn’t really a yes or no as to whether music improves or impacts performance as there is just so much information for both sides. For example this study from 2004 found whilst music seemed not to have any measurable effect on the body or performance, the runners said that it help them feel motivated and felt it was beneficial.
A poll from Runner’s World of over 11,000 of their readers found that a staggering 74% said they think runners should listen to music. Are they correct? Well it seems ultimately down to personal choice. The science backs up the argument for music - it has no harm on runners times, and can provide many psychological benefits that keep you positive that will be reflected in how your run goes.
Upbeat music that has a consistent tempo and rhythm to keep you moving can be a great help - not necessarily to make you faster - but just to keep you going. Clearly the business believes in this too due to the enormous amount of headphones, music players and phone armbands designed simply to allow you to keep your music with you when running or working out. Obviously they are out to make money, but if people weren’t buying them they wouldn’t keep making them.
One argument often cited by people who do not listen to music is that they are able to listen to their bodies. Without music blasting in their ears, they can take a check of their breathing pattern, hear how their steps sound and even hear(or feel) their heartbeat. If you choose to run in the countryside too then you can also hear the nature around you - birdsong or flowing rivers.
The only real downside to listening to music whilst running is typically said to me a matter of safety. First and foremost listening to excessively loud music can obviously have a very bad effect on your hearing. The simple answer to this is just moderating your volume levels - however a lot use the loudness to drown out environmental noise.
This can also be bad too as you may be less aware of what’s going on around you - other runners, cars, trains and commuters can all pose a danger by simply stepping in front of you.
So what can conclude? Well all the evidence suggests that music can in fact help you with running by providing you with a psychological boost to help you keep on going. However it does not appear to improve actual performance, so choosing to go without music shouldn’t impact your times, but you may need to find motivation elsewhere.
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