It’s not in your head, there are benefits to running with music, including better pacing, improved endurance and more. Read the rundown of running with music.
Whether you have an almost intrinsic love of running or really only hit the treadmill to keep healthy, we all need a little motivation now and again. The most respected running champs from Usain Bolt to Forrest Gump have their own sources of inspiration to push them past the well-known and universally feared “wall,” and you may find your boost when the beat drops.
We've written before about the reported health benefits of music, including what it can do for exercise performance. For runners, listening to music can make the difference between calling it quits after five blocks and finishing that 5k with a personal record. Before you head out for your next jog, read about the benefits of listening to music while running, and bring your earbuds along for the ride.
Reasons to Listen to Music While Running
Whether you want to improve your endurance or set different paces for HIIT training, your favorite music can help. We’ll give you a deeper look into how listening to music while running can boost your performance.
Rolling out of bed to lace up your running shoes and hit the pavement can be hard for some of us—and there’s no shame in it. But when you don’t have an exercise buddy to pump you up with words of encouragement, turning up the jams is the next best thing.
There’s a scientific explanation for that fired-up feeling you get when you listen to music during exercise. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shared research that shows dopamine, the neurotransmitter that gives you the fuzzy feel-good, plays a major role in the positive feelings induced by music.
For runners and fitness enthusiasts, listening to music is like switching on the fog lights when your mind gets cloudy. The next time you’re not feeling “one-hundred” when it’s time to run, power up with a workout playlist.
Keep Your Pace
Getting gassed in the middle of your run is a common challenge for all runners, and it takes trial and error to master the skill of pacing yourself. The good news is, listening to music can help you lock in a steady rhythm for your run.
It’s all about the BPM, or beats-per-minute. Sports Med Open published results from a study that explains the correlation between running cadence and music tempo. Generally, you should run while listening to high-energy music with an upbeat tempo, like club bangers and beat-driven tracks with a strong rhythmic feel.
Although certain genres are more effective than others, you should keep things fun and choose the music you love most. And if you want to spend less time searching for music, there are plenty of great workout apps that adapt to your pace and play songs with the optimal BPM.
Improve Your Endurance
Building the stamina to endure a sprint is no easy task, but with the right music, you can gain the motivation you need to push yourself through it.
There’s no better time to bask in A Flock of Seagulls’ 1982 indie-pop hit, “I Ran,'' than when you’re on a runner’s high. Actually, listening to any style of upbeat music can improve your endurance. Researchers from Brunel University’s School of Sport and Education conducted a study in which 30 participants listened to music while on a treadmill, including songs by Queen, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Madonna. The results show music can increase endurance by 15% and enhance the pleasurable feeling of exercising.
Get a Speed Boost
The need for speed never ends in a runner’s world. Although high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a proven way to increase your running speed and overall athletic performance, there’s evidence that suggests music can give you a speed boost too.
A team of kinesiology specialists from Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi investigated how listening to music while running affected a group of 28 college students. The students who ran while listening to music on a 1.5 mile run were less fatigued and ran faster than students who ran without music.
With a super-charged playlist, you’ll be able to put your leg muscles to the grindstone and run faster without experiencing burnout early on.
Your mind has to be on the right track and free of any mental hurdles to stay focused during your workout. Several studies, including research conducted at Stanford University, have shown the positive impact music has on general focus, and you can experience the same benefits while running.
Music is like a chew-toy for the mind to fixate on when the chatter of the world tries to interfere. For runners, distractions come in the form of stray thoughts or distractions around you—other runners chit-chatting, for example. With music—and noise-canceling earbuds like UE FITS—you can tune out background noise and focus on your workout performance.
Working out can be hard work, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun while you break a sweat! At the end of the day, running should make you feel good. Instead of running in silence, make music the soundtrack of your fitness journey.
The energized feeling you get in your stomach at a concert or a club can do wonders for your mood. When it comes time to run, listening to music can put you in a positive mindset and make running seem less like a chore and more like an adventure. All it takes is a good beat—and voila—you’re ready to party in your tracksuit. Jokes aside, try building a playlist of fun songs to get the good vibes flowing during your warmup.
Stay Safe While Running with Music
Listening to music is great for running, but we encourage you to put safety first. Here are some tips on how to stay safe while running with music.
Listen at a Safe Volume Level
We know it’s tempting to crank up the volume to get in the zone, but listening too loudly can do more harm than good. After all, our ears can only handle so much volume before our hearing deteriorates.
To protect your hearing, we recommend listening to music at lower volume levels—your ears will thank you! And rather than cranking the volume to block ambient noise, consider using earbuds with passive noise cancellation instead. Passive noise cancellation (PNC) eliminates background noise by creating a natural seal with your ear. UE FITS, for example, custom molds to your unique earprint in just 60 seconds for maximum PNC.
Pay Attention to Your Surroundings
Music is a great tool for improving your focus while you run, but make sure to stay aware of your surroundings. By paying attention to the world around you, you’ll be able to prevent yourself from injury.
As a general rule, play it safe and keep your awareness focused on what’s going on in your immediate area. If you run in a congested neighborhood, consider removing one of your earbuds or turning down the volume until you return to an area with less traffic. And of course, never forget mom’s advice—look both ways!
Why Don't Elite Runners Listen to Music?
Some elite runners don’t listen to music because they believe it interferes with their ability to pick up on running cues, like footstrike and breath rate. For pro athletes, these are essential cues for measuring performance while they’re in motion. Despite evidence that shows how music can improve focus, elite runners also feel that listening to music is a form of multitasking.
Although there may be truth to why elite runners don’t listen to music, blending a playlist or two into your routine is worth a try, especially for us non-Olympians.
Hit the Ground Running with UE FITS
All of the benefits of listening to music while running are clear as ever, and you can experience them for yourself. When you’re ready to hit the ground running, get a custom pair of UE FITS True Wireless earbuds, shaped to your unique earprint.