Can Music Help You Run?

A Brazilian study, "How Does Music Aid 5K of Running?" published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, reinforced previous findings that music can indeed get you pumped up for a run, and even help you recover. But music doesn't affect runners as much during a high intensity effort.

The researchers had 15 runners listen to music before, during, and after a 5K time trial on the track. Brain activity, heart rate, time, perceived effort and mood were measured in correlation to slow and fast music. Runners who listened to motivational music (Survivor's "Eye Of The Tiger" perhaps?) ran the first two laps measurably faster, but the difference decreased greatly after that point. This confirms results from other tests that found the higher the effort level, the less effect music has. Once the brain realizes the intensity of the taks at hand, it redirects attention to the most importatn signals.

Listening to music after the run helped runners' internal organs and heart rate return to a normal state more quickly than those who did not listen to music. The full study is not available without subscription, but you can read more about it at Runner's World.

In the past I used to get annoyed when I encounter people in a race wearing earphones. Now that it's so common, it's almost unusual when people aren't listening to something in races. But music is most helpful before and after a run, and perhaps during longer, slower runs.

When do you feel music helps you the most on runs?

Tony has been a runner for over three decades, competing in cross country and track in high school and college, and road races for various clubs. He's served as team captain for several Corporate Challenge teams at YMCA of the USA, and has informally coached many friends over the years.

Tags: This Week in Runners, Y, YMCA, Running, Music, performance, research

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