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Running Music Dilemma: Does Listening To Music While Running Help Or Hurt Your Performance?

You may be wondering if listening to running music helps you perform better or not.

running-musicIt can be a divisive topic — whether listening to music while running is a good idea:

  • Running music enthusiasts usually cannot imagine why anyone would put themselves through the drudgery of working out without a tune to motivate them. They would rather give up running than run without a soundtrack.
  • People who don’t need music powering their every step point to safety issues. They wonder how anyone can run safely when it’s so easy to lose yourself in your music.

Here are the facts…


Listening To Running Music Does Help

There are a number of studies that show that music is a performance booster in most athletic activities.

A study conducted at the Brunel University in Britain, for instance, shows that runners who listen to music perform 15% better than those who don’t. However, it depends on the type of runner you are.

The critics of running music have one thing right – music does make a runner less aware of himself and his surroundings. This dissociation, in fact, is what makes runners listening to music perform better. They perform because they don’t need to think about their discomfort.


Does It Matter What Kind Of Music It Is?

Many runners assume that the faster their choice of running music, the more energetic their performance is likely to be.

Studies exist, however, that find no reason to believe this.

Another British study, for instance, tested 3 groups of test subjects on stationary bikes. One group worked out without music, another did it to fast music, and a third did it to slow music.

As expected, the group with no music performed the least impressively.

The other 2 groups, however, pedaled the same distance. Not only did the music piped into their ears help them perform better, but they didn’t even feel that they had worked out very hard. The kind of music they listened to had no effect on their performance.


Listening To Music Only Goes So Far Though

Music can only help you run better as long as it is able to hold your interest.

For example, most people aren’t able to hook themselves up to some music and have it help over the duration of a marathon — because when you tire of listening to music, the effect wears away. Music only helps as long as it draws you in.

Highly trained athletes often report that running to music degrades their performance.

The dissociation principle doesn’t work for competitive runners. They don’t treat running as simple exercise to stay fit. They run and work out with the specific aim of being better. To push themselves in this manner, they need to be entirely present in the moment – to concentrate.

Music can help these runners, though, when they just need to run to stay fit like everyone else.



To Conclude…

It’s undeniable that listening to music helps people perform better.

It can definitely make a daily exercise routine far more palatable.

If you have enough music to fill a long running music playlist, you owe it to yourself to try running to music. You could find that it eases your life considerably.

Must read: How To Listen To Music While Running


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