We each have our own individual music preferences, and many of us prefer different songs to listen to while running than, say, something like driving. Most people prefer faster music to pump them up during any type of exercise (except maybe yoga). For most of us, it won’t be a shock that listening to music while running can improve your performance. Music can motivate you to keep going and distract you from feeling tired.
In his book Inside Sport Psychology, Dr. Coastas Karageoghis claims that listening to music can increase certain runners performance by a whopping 15 percent. According to Dr. Karageoghis, elite athletes, or assocatiors, focus inwardly when running; however, most of us are dissociators, and look for stimulation or distraction.
Scientifically, the right music comes down to the beats per minute (BPM) and for running, the best range is between 120 to 140 beats per minutes. Most dance music and many rock songs fall into that range. Why 120 to 140? This roughly corresponds to the average person’s heart rate during a routine workout.
In addition to songs with a high BPM, many people prefer music with rhythm so they can coordinate their movements, even subconsciously. (This may be why most of us reach for the heavy metal over the free-form jazz.)
I think that matching your music BPM to your personal heart rate is all well and good. I haven’t actually figured out the BPM of each of my favorite running songs. However, there is something to be said for songs which are simply motivating. Personally, I find inspiring songs much more beneficial than ones matching a particular beat. But, then again, maybe I’m just an extreme dissociator.
What do you think? What is your favorite song to listen to while running? Do you prefer songs with lots of beats or songs that inspire you?