Let the Music Move You….


When I took up running several years ago, I simply went to the gym every day and did my three miles on the treadmill. Ear buds won’t stay in my ears and I didn’t really have an ipod, so I would read the CNN ticker as it repeated the same news over and over again. Needless to say, those three miles were the longest and most boring part of my day.

My husband kept telling me that running would be so much more fun with music. I finally got a pair of old school head phones and the world of running as I knew it changed forever. Suddenly I can run for miles and miles and it feels way easier than those old days sans tunes.

Music is a very powerful tool for runners. It can help keep your mind from wandering into those disastrous chats we have with ourselves where we start to believe we are tired, when we are actually just bored. The sound in your headphones helps drown out the negative clatter in your brain. The beat of music can help pull your body along and make your perceived effort seem a lot less difficult. Different songs with different beats can also change up your pace a bit, which is also helpful.

During my running group a few nights ago we were chatting about the music we listen to when we run. We all confessed that we would be a bit embarrassed if other people heard the music we chose to run to. I will be the first to admit that the music I enjoy in the car is very different from what I listen to when I run. My Ipod is an eclectic mix of top 40 songs, rap, country, and a little bit of everything. I am the first person to join in the chats about how Miley Cyrus is an awful role model for young girls. But the other night I walked out and proudly announced to my husband, “I just added some Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears to my running mix.” If I can do it, we all can do it! Don’t be afraid to step out of your everyday music routine to find something fun that works for you.

One girl in the running group was telling us that she had been running half marathons for a long time, with a goal of breaking under two hours. She just kept coming up short. A fellow running friend urged her to listen to music and she swears that was the key to her finally breaking past the two hour barrier.

Mill1(Bad blurry pic but I like to think its because I was running so FAST!)

Draw inspiration from the radio, commercials, and movies. I often hear songs in the background of commercials and google it to find out who the artist or song is. Movie soundtracks also often cover new songs that are fun. When I watch hockey games I like to listen to the songs they blast between plays, I figure that if it can pump up an NHL player, it is probably good for me too!

Another fun idea is to create a mix around inspirational movies or scenes that evoke excitement for you. I once made a running list based on past inspirational movies such as “Rudy”, “The Last of the Mohicans”, “ Rocky”, “Karate Kid”, and a few other blasts from the past.
Be creative and have fun with your music. Don’t be afraid to try something new. No one needs to know what crazy music you listen to but yourself.

One way of creating play lists is based on the type of training or races you are doing.  For example, if you are racing a 5k this weekend, some awesome fast paced music might be perfect to help you run a speedy 5k.  If you are new to 5ks this is not a good idea as you might collapse at mile one!  If that is the case, you might enjoy adding some fun comedy routines along with music to keep you amused and motivated along the way.  However, if you are a novice runner and training for a marathon, some nice fun music for a long weekend run might include both some fast music along with some new top hits to keep you moving for a few hours.  I am a huge fan of the NPR show “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!” hosted by fellow runner Peter Sagal.  If you are in Chicago on Sundays and see a woman running  with head phones and laughing hysterically out loud, give me a wave!

In recent months I have found an awesome product that I now swear by.  I could never wear ear buds of any kind, but I tried out Yurbuds, which are guaranteed to never fall out.  I was skeptical at first, but if you have trouble with ear buds staying in your ears this is the product for you!  They are incredibly comfortable, stay in for my entire run, and the sound quality is great.  They also have great customer service.  I had a pair that stopped working and after a quick e-mail to the company, they shipped me a new pair.

A quick side note, as a RRCA certified running coach, the RRCA is a firm believer in not listening to music while running.  Part of their belief is that it can take away from the pure pleasure of a run as well as the sense of running a race as a group.  I do realize and acknowledge that many runners prefer a more “purist” form of running and do not run with music.  However, I personally do not do any group running with music, and enjoy a conversation pace chat with fellow runners, but also enjoy my alone time with some music and a long run.  I especially think music can be a huge motivational factor for beginning and intermediate level runners.

Have fun and enjoy your runs with some tunes.  Just make sure to keep the music low enough to be able to hear what is going on around you.  If I am running in busy areas I often turn my music off until I get back on a trail.  It is easy to get too into the music and become distracted.  Safety is and should always be your first concern.

3 thoughts on “Let the Music Move You….

  1. I find that I go in spurts of listening to music or not. I’ve just started running to music again – not even sure why. I have discovered though that I don’t run faster. I might to a single song but never for a full run. Especially in races, my experience is I run slower. Maybe it’s my playlist. Another point, might be non-intuitive, is I never listen to music on trails. I find I can’t hear mountain bikers coming up behind me that want to pass. Street traffic is less critical because that’s more visual awareness.

  2. I only find music motivating at the start of the run, or when things are going well. When things get tough, like towards the end of a grueling training session or a marathon, the music becomes annoying and a distraction. I often used to end up taking the headphones off and start berating myself for carrying the extra wasted weight. However, recently I’ve started training with podcasts. A really good one, depending upon your interests, can take your mind away from the pain. And you learn stuff at the same time. I like listening to StarTalk by Neil Degrasse Tyson or The Infinite Monkey Cage with Brian Cox (our UK version of Degrasse Tyson…). I still run the races without music or podcasts now, just so I can soak up the atmosphere all the better.

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