The Pros & Cons of Listening to Music When Running – Part 1

Listening to music whilst you are exercising is a favorite pastime for many fitness fans, it takes the boredom out of the treadmill or pounding the streets. With the development of lighter and sturdier portable music devices and lightweight headphones, it makes listening to your favorite artist during the run really easy. In this blog we look at the pros and cons of listening to music whilst you run, how music may give you more motivation and energy boosts.

But a question arises, is it always good to listen to music whilst you are running? And are there any real drawbacks?

Pros of Listening to Music

Street running can be a really boring activity, especially if you are training for something like a half marathon and running the same routes night after night. Listening to music can help to alleviate the boredom and provide an inspiration to your running. It is well known that stirring music can put a little more zip in your stride as you pound the streets, studies have proven this theory and that high energy music can boost a runner’s speed. In one particular study it was found that music with a fast rhythm improved performance at the beginning and end of a workout or run.

Most of this research is undertaken in labs with amateur athletes and not under race conditions. Perhaps it is easier for runners to get motivated in situations when there is nothing at stake. When running in a race atmosphere, runners are highly motivated already by the competition and the other runners around them.

Cons of Listening to Music

There are, however, contrary reactions to listening to music whilst exercising, and one practical disadvantage is that music may affect your natural cadence. That is to say, as the music changes tempo, your body automatically does the same. This could be really detrimental if you are taking time trials or even competing in a race. Some race organizers have actually banned headphones during races, and this came about as stewards noticed that some athletes were not taking any notice of safety announcements during a race because they could not hear them. This also included when other runners were shouting warnings out to fellow competitors.

There is a side issue to wearing headphones when competing and that is you may miss out on a great deal of fun and the atmosphere of other runners competing against one another. You cannot hear the crowd cheering the racers on as they pass by, and even bands playing. If you have grown to rely on your iPod or phone to provide inspiration for your running, then there is a great danger that you will flounder if it breaks or the battery runs out. It is possible that you will be left high and dry and motivation will be on the floor.

In part two of this blog we look at some of the benefits and pitfalls of listening to music whilst you are training or preparing for a race. So, pop in your phones and lace up your running shoes for another edition of our fast-moving series.  

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