Exercise can sometimes feel like a chore, and you need anything to provide a distraction for you. Music is one of those distractions, and there are more people who workout to music than not. It can feel like a great stimulus to get you going, but does it actually improve how you perform? We’re looking at high-octane playlists and whether they actually make you run faster or not.
Running to music
Running USA conducted a survey in 2016 and found that 68% of people who run do it while listening to music. If you’ve ever gone on a Parkrun, or just ran in public, you’ll probably have noticed a bunch of people sporting headphones. While they might be doing it to shut out the outside world, in doing so they are giving themselves a competitive advantage over people who aren’t listening to music.
Science has suggested that listening to certain types of music can boost your performance when running by 15%. That’s more than enough to gain extra places in your race or shave vital seconds off your personal best.
Getting it right
You can’t just go and play EDM that’s going at 200 BPM to make your run faster though. There is a little bit of an art to getting the right music that makes you run faster than the rest. Research suggests that tracks with around 145 BPM are the optimal songs to run to as they increase your performance the most.
It is at this pace that our bodies align best with the music we’re hearing and we kind of go into a running trance. Tracks played at 145 BPM provide your brain and heart with the right amount of stimulus to get you running faster and further.
It’s all in your head
Music can increase emotion which helps you to power through for longer runs. Listening to your favorite tunes on a run can make runners more focused while increasing their concentration and boosting their mood. All of these things combine to make people run faster, and it will feel easier and more enjoyable if you’re doing it to music.
Upbeat music can kind of trick your brain into thinking that the effort you’re putting in is actually less than it is. This ensures that you’ll feel tired much later in your run than you would without listening to some tunes.
Creating your playlist
It’s thought that listening to music while exercising is more effective when you’re listening to a playlist you put together yourself. You will be more familiar with the songs, and generic Spotify playlist can be uninspiring thanks to tunes you don’t necessarily like. It’s best for your run if you make sure you craft your playlist yourself, that way you’ll be loving every single tune that comes on.
As for the high-octane stuff, as long as you don’t have too many songs above 145 BPM, then it’s great. Songs with faster BPMs than 145 are great for high-intensity workout, but not so good for endurance sports like distance running.