Runners, Here’s 7 Ways to Boost Your Training with Music


When it comes time to race, more often than not, music isn’t allowed. Though safety is often cited as the reason for no headphones, there is also debate and research about performance enhancing effects of music for runners.

Even though music might not be allowed at your races, are you using it for training?

You might be thinking, “Well, if I can’t run the race with it, shouldn’t I practice that? Shouldn’t I get used to running without music?”

The answer isn’t as simple as yes or no.

While you do want to prepare for your race as much as possible, you will be spending a lot of time training, and not all of that has to be in silence. And, if you’re a runner who has a hard time tuning out negative or distracting thoughts, music can help you improve your outlook and your training.

Did you know that marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe uses music to help her train?

“I use music all the time in the gym and while cross-training, and for recovery runs,” says Paula. “Also in training build-ups for major races, I put together a playlist and listen to it during the run-in. In helps psyche me up and remind me of times in the build-up when I’ve worked really hard, or felt good. With the right music, I do a much harder workout.” (Source)

Paula makes a great point: it’s important to have the right music. Music can be helpful, but it’s also important to be thoughtful about how you use music for training runs:

  • First and foremost: be safe! You want to still be able to be aware of your surroundings.
  • Choose your music. While shuffling your music or listening to Pandora is fine (yes, you can skip songs), consider creating a playlist specific for your runs, with music that matches your training: the length, the pace of your runs, and includes songs you’ve planned for times where you might need an extra push.
  • Consider the tempo of the music; pick music with fewer beats per minute (BPM) for a warm-up, especially if you tend to go out too fast, and use songs with higher BMP for times where you might be doing sprints, or during times in your training where your energy tends to drop.
  • Consider songs with motivational lyrics; while the mood and tempo of the music are important, words can motivate. Find songs with lyrics that inspire, especially if you’re going into a tough training run or workout session.
  • Be aware of synchronization; it’s normal that you may end up pacing yourself to the music, so begin to pay attention to the rhythm of the songs you choose and if that feels like it matches the rhythm and tempo that your run should be.
  • Do some runs without music, especially as you get closer to a race, but try to hear the music in your head, hum the music, or repeat the lyrics. All of this can help you tap into the what music while running brings you.
  • Use music during your pre-race routine. Even though music might not be a part of your race, you can use music leading up to the run to get you in the right frame of mind before the race begins.

Music can change the experience of your run (for the positive!) and help to create more energy and motivation for those distances that challenge you. So put an extra spring in your step with the right sound and rock on!

Are you a fan of music on your runs? Tell us about some of your favorite tunes in the comments below.

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