Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Could This Be a Trick to Running Faster?

On my run today I nearly threw my iPod in a ditch. I kept getting tangled in the wires and I hated every song that came on. Then I said to myself, “Self! Why are you even listening to music? It’s a gorgeous spring morning. You could be listening to the birds. And, your own heavy breathing.”  <-which is  a total turn on by the way.

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This has been happening more and more to me lately. While I’ve historically been a music-slut on my runs, I’ve been taking my iPod with me less often. Hell yes, there are times that music is what I want and need to distract me on super long runs or to give me a boost during races. Yet, using music on my every day runs feels like I’m shutting out the world.

I don’t know why I’ve changed. It’s been gradual. Perhaps it was the fact that during Ironman races you can’t have music (dude  if you are me, that is like 12-13 hours of intense exercise with no tunes). I think I learned to train without it most of the time.

Or, maybe it’s because life has felt so hectic lately that it’s nice to not worry about bringing one more thing on my runs.

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I don’t know and I guess it doesn’t matter. We should all just do whatever the hell we want to do. I don’t think music is a “crutch” or makes anyone less of a runner because they love their music. For years,  have depended on it. It’s just personal preference.

I do think it’s interesting, however, that a bunch of research has shown that listening to music can potentially make you run faster and even increase energy levels. 

A BBC.com article reported, “In a study of Australian triathletes, researchers found that listening to music tracks by the likes of Queen, Madonna and the Red Hot Chili Peppers increased the athletes’ energy efficiency by 1 percent to 3 percent, enabling them to do more with the same amount of oxygen.” Apparently listening to tunes can reduce the perception of effort significantly and increase endurance by as much as 15 percent!!

A report published (2014)  in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research stated that when runners listened to music during 5Ks they ran faster than without it. I’m guessing it depends on the tempo of the music used. Enya and AC/DC aren't quite the same (I’m a genius).

The question probably boils down to whether you are an internal runner or an external runner. Do you seek your motivation from outside sources like music, talking to people in groups, taking in the scenery, etc.? Or, are you the type who goes deep into yourself and your thoughts and wants no external distractions? I’m a bit of both – and it sort of depends on my mood and the type of running I’m doing. Speed or treadmill workouts? Bring on the tunes.

Do you listen to music while you run? Why or why not?

Do you think music improves your performance and/or makes you faster? In shorter races, yes.

SUAR

50 comments:

  1. I usually listen to podcast, sometimes music. Mostly to deal with the boredom of running alone. A good peppy song will help me run faster if needed.

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  2. I don't listen to music when I run, but then I do when I race - it's an automatic boost.

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  3. For training I'm totally inconsistent - some days music, some days books, some days nothing. When I race I have a play list just for racing. I think it helps.

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  4. Yes, music. Must have music. I listen to Pandora, either "OneRepublic" or "The Killers" stations. I just run better if I have a beat, and sometimes the lyrics even inspire me. I zip-tied one earbud to the cable and just use the other one - that helps me stay aware of my surroundings.

    I also need my RunKeeper gal to update me every 5 minutes with my pace...

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  5. I used to run without music. Then the iPod came out and changed my life. Now I run with music a lot. Actually, at Chicago last year, I thought I'd run without music. But the crowds were so loud, I turned up the volume and shut them out. ! hout 10 min PR. I need to be in my own world, apparently.

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    1. Funny you say that. While some people love the crowd support, after the half way point in a marathon I usually need to turn inward. That's when I might use music too.

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  6. I don't listen while I run -- neither in training nor races - because I find it very distracting. Before a race, however, I love to crank up White Stripes, AC/DC, Led Zepp, etc. So I guess I get pumped up all I need before the gun goes off.

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  7. I've run with music once, just to prove my phone would talk to my bionic ears and the music would dip when the iSmoothRun announcements came on. It did. Never again. I like to hear what's going on around me.
    That said, I could easily believe you run faster with music, if the tempo jibes with your pace, or you get all pumped. BUT, if you get hooked on it, you are screwed when you run without music, and if that happens to be in a race, you're likely to be disappointed in your result.

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  8. I desperately need music when I run on the treadmill. I don't need or want it when I run outside. That said, hearing Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off" during my last race really helped.

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  9. I used to run with music but I don't anymore. I took a RunSafer program and they recommend not to run with music. I do like that I am now alert to my surroundings. And more importantly (well maybe nothing is more important than safety) but I believe using earbuds hurt my hearing. I think I don't hear as well anymore.

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  10. I run with music almost all the time. I really, really enjoy it. I'm not trying to tune anything out or forget that I'm suffering or whatever. It just definitely makes my runs fun. I also use it to to give myself a boost when I'm tired, or when I'm about to run up a killer hill. I'll stop long enough to find a kick-ass song, crank it up loud, and the music motivates me to get it done.

    I don't think I could ever listen to a podcast or audiobook while I run, though. I also hate watching TV if I have to get on the treadmill at the gym. What I'm listening to has to be rhythmic.

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  11. I hit up the podcasts on runs. But I find that the older I get the more I love QUIET! I work at home, in my silent house. In grad school I always had music or the TV on to study and write, but not any more. My brain is plenty LOUD enough! I enjoy your blog!!

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  12. I run on trails and I need to hear if there's a bear sneaking on me, so no music.

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    1. that should be "sneaking up on"

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    2. Ha ha. True! I never wear headphones on the trail.

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  13. I never ran with music until I started training for my first marathon in 2012, then only on long runs. I think it helps to have that distraction! I do only wear one earbud so I can still be tuned in to what's going on around me. I don't listen to music when I'm running the trail - I enjoy the sounds of nature around me. I also don't mind quiet, so when I'm not in major training mode I usually don't run with music.

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  14. I used to always run with music, but around mile 23 or so of my first marathon I just couldn't stand it anymore. I took out my headphones and that was the end of running with music. That was over a year ago and I think I've only listened to music on a run once. It was today, actually, which is kinda funny. I brought music with me to the track because I was afraid that running in circles might be boring. Now that I've read that it might help performance I'm extra glad I brought it!

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  15. I was just thinking about this today. I always train with music, but haven't raced with it yet. I feel like it might help me get through those harder middle miles, but I also don't want to have to deal with one more thing to keep track of. Also, I don't have fancy headphones and don't know what I'd do with them if I wanted to take them out of my ears.

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  16. I am a total music runner, but I really like to try to get songs with inspiring, empowering and motivating lyrics on my playlist to keep me mentally strong and feeling fierce. I always feel better with music than without ... which I'm sure is a mental distraction. xo

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  17. Jacqueline @ Mam On The RunApril 15, 2015 at 12:11 AM

    I always listen to music. I have almost 3000 songs on my phone, which means there're some very, very dodgy songs on there. Leonard Cohen definitely makes me run slower!! It's weird though, normally half way through a long run or near the end of a marathon I have to stop listening. It starts bugging me big time. Think my brain needs to focus on moving forward.

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  18. Sometimes I listen to music, sometimes I don't; but I don't NEED it. If I forget my ipod for a run I don't panic, I just run without it. One time I was in the middle of a race and my ipod quit. I ran a PB that day. On the treadmill. Yes to music. Loud loud music. Otherwise it's a snooze fest.

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  19. No music for me. I prefer the sounds of nature and the sexiness of my own huffing and puffing. ;-)

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  20. I used to always run with music to, then over a period of time I found myself using it less and less. I find now I enjoy the meditation of a long training run more than the distraction of songs. Running on the treadmill is different - music is the only thing that makes it bearable. If I've been training really badly (like now - I'm a poster child for your last blog post) then I'll listen to music while I'm racing just to get me through... angry electronica works best!!

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    1. I think you and I are on the same page!

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  21. Funny, b/c my post for Friday is all about music and using it during races. I have never used music on a run--it's just not my thing. I understand how it can work for others, however. BUT: for the love of God, people, don't blare your stupid music during a race. Or even worse, just blare it sans headphones. I don't want to hear it!

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  22. I used to have to have music while running but now it mostly depends on my mood. I especially like no music this time of year when you can hear the birds chirping and frogs croaking. Everything is coming alive again.

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  23. I ran with music for the first year that I ran, then during a half marathon training run, I started out without music since it was dark. I realized that I controlled my pacing much better without music, so I stopped using it and haven't for three years. I don't miss it!

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  24. I have an iPhone app that plays music based on how fast you're running. It's like Pandora but with a BPM component. Because I can't listen to music that isn't in sync with my pace- it throws me off and I get all weird and distracted. I probably only listen to music about half the time though- or on longer runs. I definitely run faster with music, at least in the long-run because I'm more consistent about "stepping to the beat"!
    -SNB

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  25. I generally run without music for anything under 7 or 8 miles (unless it's a really crappy day and I just need the boost). On runs longer than that it helps to distract from whatever may be starting to hurt or irritate me. I often only turn tunes on toward the end when I need them, and I do only run with one earbud in as well. That being said, I am in desperate need of a new play list with some good uptempo pump you up songs! Any and all suggestions would be welcome! On a side note, never grab your husbands shuffle in a moment of desperation because your ipod is dead. Old school country just doesn't do it on a run...

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  26. I don't usually run training runs with music (I have a group that I run with, and we like to talk). Must have it for speed work, and running on the treadmill. I only have upbeat songs on my iPod. I always have it for my races, and it definitely helps me!! During a half marathon, I don't listen to it until the last 5K. It helps me finish well! During a marathon, I reward myself with music after mile 16-18, to help me through the tough miles. I've learned from experience during a half marathon or marathon, that if I listen to music the whole way, it gets very annoying; I don't get the benefits.

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  27. I don't ever run with music, just another thing to get tangled up. I used to walk with an Ipod and if it was windy out it drove me crazy that the wires would get in my face, or if you're sweaty they get stuck on your neck and when you turn your head you rip the earbud out. So, no more music, have been running for 2 years without it now and not missing it at all!

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    1. Amen to that (from another Anonymous).

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    2. Sounds like what I went through yesterday! Can be a hassle.

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  28. I don't run with music because I like the quietness of a run, even when on a busy road, and I like to shut my brain off. Also, I can't stand anything touching me, like earbuds (which never stay in), a Garmin, and sometimes even clothes. It's so hot in North Georgia from May-September I can barely handle a shirt or tank. I carry my phone in a pouch with a water holster.

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  29. I'm in the "no need to categorize" camp - I totally agree that it doesn't make you any more or less of a runner if you do/don't listen to music, much like it doesn't make you any less of a performer if you sing in the shower. <- Skill. Some days I listen to a podcast because i can't fathom counting down 90 minutes of easy running. Some days I tune into music because the beat helps me find a pace and zone out and because I love music. Some days my head gets no treats and just has to soak up nature, because I said so!

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  30. I'm right with you on this. A year ago I wouldn't be caught on a 3 mile run without my iPod and now, if anything, I have gone the other way. I definitely run more without music now. I tend to get completely lost in some runs all by myself solving the worlds problems. I really wish I would have started writing a book seven years ago when I started running about my random thoughts. Just recently on a 20 mile treadmill run over the winter I listened to my first audiobook. It helped pass the time but not something that I need to do again real soon. I have dealt with about 15 clients a day for over 20 years so I'm guessing as I age that I enjoy the peace and quiet.

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  31. If I am outside or trail running I don't need it and find that it even frustrates me, but on the treadmill if I don't have something to watch or listen too, no matter how much conditioning I have put it, I last maybe fifteen minutes and then I have to check out.

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  32. I run with music ... except in the rain. And not because I worry about getting the electronics wet. I enjoy the solace of being alone on my run, hearing the patter of raindrops on the leaves, as they fall from leaf to leaf, the rhythmic sound of my shoes as they hit the ground, the smell of wet dirt and foliage, the air - heavy with humidity, the rasp of my breathing. Sounds and smells re-discovered ... sure is nice to pull the headphones off every so often.

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    1. One of my favorite things is running in the rain. It doesn't rain CO often, so it's a treat!

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  33. I almost never run with music, except for once in a while on the treadmill. I will say that the right song can definitely put a little extra pep in my step and make the treadmill workout go by faster. But in general I love the quiet solitude of running. Music just ends up sounding like noise to me and even becomes exhausting to listen to if you can believe that. Which is weird because don't get me wrong, I love music! I guess that's the introvert in me. I definitely draw energy from within versus externally.

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  34. You never see the winners (or top finishers) of races with iPods. I try to embodied those die hards, no iPod for me. Shows mental toughness and you are more likely to be friendly to fellow runners.

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  35. I haven't listened to music on a run for years. I like running and being able to focus intently on my body (as well as daydream about PRs). However, my running buddy moved to DC last fall, which has made my long runs feel especially long.

    I have been considering running with music for those days where I lack motivation to go, but I guess I have a question: how on earth do you keep your ear buds in your ears? I tried to use ear buds a couple weeks ago when I had to run on the treadmill -- two steps and they fell out.

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    1. I guess it depends on the type you get. Most earbuds come with different size thingies for the ends so you can get a good fit. I've had good luck with yurbuds.

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    2. Awesome! Thanks! I just picked up a purple pair at Target and will test run (punnnnnyyy) them tonight!

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  36. I never have listened to music while I run....in fact this was the topic of my very first blog post about running. http://oldguyrunning.net/wp/?p=17

    I personally like to listen to my surroundings, my footfalls, my breathing. Sometimes I have a song in my head, but that's as close as it ever gets. I don't think music makes me faster in a race situation, although a crowd certainly gets the adrenaline pumping. Take care.

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  37. I just had this conversation today while on a 10 mile run.
    In 2009, I ran my first half marathon. By mile three, the course took us off road onto a cinder trail that ran along a creek. The rain was falling and I got annoyed with my play list. I ripped the ear buds out and just listened to the runners' feet on the cinder and the rain in the water. I haven't listened to music since. :)

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  38. I always, always listen to music - or if I'm on the treadmill, I watch Netflix. Oh, and lately I've been listening to Serial - sooo good. I CAN'T STAND the sound of my heavy breathing. Nothing makes me want to stop running more. Music is what makes me go.

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