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Should You Listen To Music When You Run?

by Alexandra Parren
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running listening to music training

Sundried recently ran a poll and found that 62% of people listen to music when they run. But can losing yourself in your headphones have negative effects on your performance? We take a look.

The benefits of not listening to music while running

It stops you rushing and helps you keep a steadier pace

Studies have shown that listening to fast music can make you run or cycle significantly faster than if you don't listen to music at all. However, this can have its downfalls as it may make you sprint off faster than you intend and then mean you burn-out before the end of your training session or race. By not listening to music you are more likely to keep a steady pace and not rush off too fast.

You can enjoy the sights

When you're lost in your music, you miss out on looking around and taking in your natural surroundings. Some races, like the Paris Marathon, go past several famous landmarks and have lots of wonderful things to see and experience as you run. By not listening to music you can really enjoy what's around you and being fully immersed in the moment.

You can appreciate the support at races and Parkrun

If you listen to music during races and events like the weekly Parkrun, it'll mean you can't hear what's being shouted at you by supporters and marshals. It's considered more socially polite to not run with music at events like Parkrun so that you can appreciate the support and even reciprocate by thanking the marshals. Hearing your name being called or being cheered on by friends and family can really spur you on, so it's important you can hear them!

running London personal trainer model

You will be more alert to hazards like traffic

This one is a safety issue. It's very rare that cyclists listen to music while on the road because it isn't safe, and sometimes this is the case for runners too. If you are fully alert and aware of your surroundings, you will be more safe and less likely to end up in an incident. 

You can focus on your natural rhythms (breathing, stride etc.)

If you are training for a big race or you're a serious runner, being able to focus on your natural rhythms is paramount for peak performance. Listening to music can put you off your natural rhythm and prevent you from finding your stride. By not listening to music, you will be able to fully focus and be in full control of your breathing, pace, and strides.

It'll prepare you for races that don't allow headphones

If you're new to running, you may not be aware that a lot of road races do not allow runners to wear headphones due to safety concerns. It's always important to check before you race as some organisations will disqualify runners who are caught listening to music. If this is the case for your race, you don't want to end up feeling bare without your music because you're so used to running with it. Running without music will help you to prepare for this feeling and won't mean you're caught out on race day.

listening to music training running

The benefits of listening to music while running

It can help increase your pace

Research suggests that listening to fast music while running can increase your pace by up to 15%. By compiling that perfect playlist of fast, motivating songs, you could potentially beat your PB and run faster than you would without music. 

It can motivate you

One of the best feelings is having a completely fresh, new playlist of songs you haven't listened to yet and hitting the open road to listen to them while running. It completely takes your mind off the running and can allow you to jog along happily for hours while you focus on enjoying the music. Not only this, it can motivate you to get out of the house in the first place because you're looking forward to experiencing the new music. 

running sprinting athlete

It can help pass the time

Especially for endurance runners, spending hours out on the trail or the road can be a chance to unwind and be alone with your thoughts. However, for some people, listening to music or even podcasts can be better as it helps to pass the time. It also means you are less bothered by sounds like your own breathing and your feet hitting the pavement, and can therefore help you to lose yourself and run without thinking. This is great for recreational runners, but not so good for competitive runners who need to be aware of these things for performance.

It can improve your performance

Studies show that listening to music while running can block out the pain signals being sent from your brain and reduce the feeling of fatigue. This, in turn, can mean your performance improves as you are not focused on the pain and can instead just run.

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