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The Benefits of Music: How It Helps You Train, Run and Recover Faster!

runners running

Every runner will eventually realise the importance of music for passing time on a run. It’s a great distraction when in that familiar autopilot mode on a regular route. Let’s face it, your journey will become dull and repetitive. But music serves a purpose;research has discovered many benefits of music when hitting the road.

Fast Music Creates Fast Rhythm

In a seminal study, six cyclists of roughly equal performance were evaluated. The researchers found that each of the cyclists were faster and performed for longer, taking fewer breaks when listening to music. Their body reacted in time with the beat, creating a kind of rhythm with the music that they were then reluctant to break once they found their pace. On average, they worked harder 120-140 bpm. Similar tests have been carried out on runners and found improved performance.

Music Reduces Your Perception of Effort

The point above is an unconscious effort. This refers to conscious effort on a similar note and in another scientific study.It seems anyone listening to music while they work out perceive they’re not working as hard. Effort is less noticeable because music is a negative as well as a positive distraction. It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book. Sea shanties on ships during the Age of Sail and drummers on Roman galleys pushed the crew to work harder.

Distraction From the Little Pains

With hard work comes pain. As runners, we push ourselves always to improve. No matter where we are – beginning or elite runner – that constant push comes with the occasional niggle. Even the most ardent running enthusiast has days where he or she just isn’t feeling it. This is not about injuries, but little niggles we can’t shake. One of the benefits of music is that when we have a rhythm to focus on, we tend not to notice those little niggles. If we notice them, we just accept them and carry on.

Music Fosters a “PMA”

Positive Mental Attitude –many people groan but there is science behind the PMA. When we exercise, the brain releases endorphins that make us feel good. It’s called “The Runner’s High”. But what does this have to do with music? Music is designed to create and maintain a certain mental state. Runners choose positive and bouncy music for a reason. That PMA and the positive and empowering music, the beat, all of it creates and maintains that positive energy you need to complete your work out.

Recovery with Slow Music

Most of this list covers training and performance but as runners we should never forget the cool down period. This is when you need to switch to slower music and a more sedate pace. You’ll burn yourself out going full throttle for an entire run. Most runners know from experience the need to have longer pauses of walking or slower pace before picking up again. Research shows that calm music can reduce the heart rate by 60-80bpm, helping the muscles recover. Intersperse fast pace with slow music on long runs.

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