Run to the Beat

Music & Audio, Running Add a Comment »

Run to the Beat

Listening to music via your iPod when you run is more than just multitasking or an opportunity to listen to music you simply enjoy. There’s actually a science behind how music can motivate and inspire a runner to greater achievement.

Recent research has shown that although music does not reduce the perception of effort during high intensity runs, it does improve the experience of the run. So while listening to music will not necessarily make a run any easier, it’s likely that the overall experience will be pleasurable, and may even trick the mind into believing that your body is not as fatigued as it really is.

Costas Karageorghis, a sports psychologist at Brunel University and head of the Music in Sport Research Group, has been investigating the influence of music on exercise performance for almost 20 years. He is so convinced of the positive effects of music while running that he has helped mastermind Run to the Beat. This unique, half marathon race will take place in London on October 5 which aims to be the first race of its kind that will play carefully selected music at 16 points along the event’s 13-mile route in order to motivate and inspire runners.

“Our research has shown that lively, upbeat music stimulates the part of the brain associated with locomotion - the motor cortex,” says Costas Karageorghis. “It also needs to have a strong rhythm and, ideally, should have some association with physical activity, either through the lyrics or by association.”

Simply listening to fast music on its own however won’t magically make you become a fast runner. To really benefit, runners should listen to music with a tempo similar to the pace at which they intend to run, so that a runner’s stride can be synchronized with the rhythm of the music. A perfect example of this was when two-time 10km Olympic champion Haile Gebrselassie, from Ethiopia, reputedly listened to the song Scatman by Scatman John when Gerbselassie broke the world indoor 2km record 1998. This song has around 135 beats per minute.

So next time you’re preparing your playlist in iTunes before you go out on a run, make sure your music is carefully selected. Good tunes with the right bpm might not only make your run more enjoyable, but may even shave a few extra seconds off your personal best.

More information:
Run to the Beat race site
Tune in, work out (The Guardian newspaper)

My Favorite Music to Listen to while Running

Music & Audio Add a Comment »

One of my biggest musical influences on a personal level and as a runner, is an electronic IDM (”Intelligent Dance Music”) artist known as TheFlashbulb. What I most enjoy about listening to TheFlashbulb’s music (real name Benn Jordan), is the variety of tempo, styles and overall ambience each soundscape creates.

Listen to TheFlashbulb.

I have yet to find a more perfect album to run to than the 2005 release, “Kirlian Selections“. What’s so incredible about this album is that it spans an incredible 28 songs on one CD - all killer, no filler. This piece of work is more than just music, it’s a complete journey, and it’s a perfect soundtrack for runners because there are a selection of tracks with pounding, electronic beats that help motivate and push you harder, while there are contrasting, gentler melodies played on a piano that can relax the mind and body during a workout.

I will always have fond memories of this album because it was what I was listening to on my iPod when I won my very first 5k race in 2007. I hope the album inspires some more of you to victory too.