Running Music:  The Battle For And Against

Running music is something you either think of as a good thing or a bad thing.  There is little grey area here.  Many of the most elite runners used to believe that running with music blaring in your headset was not the most effective way to run.  Some point out that it isn't even safe to run without being able to hear the approaching cars.  But, more and more people are finding that there are many reasons to using running music to get you through your workouts.

Of course, we are not saying you have to use running music.  Quite the opposite, you should only use it if it is what inspires you to keep going.  Not all of us have that undying ability to keep at it.  Even those of us who do will often need some encouragement along the way.  If music is what inspires you to keep going, by all means keep it up. 

 As for what you should listen to while you are running, well, that is up to you as well.  Fill your head with the music that gets you moving whether that is rock, pop, jazz or techno, it really doesn't matter.

What Does Science Have To Say? 

Did you know that science is going to back us up here?  It is true that scientists have found that adding music to a workout is a healthy thing to do because it keeps you moving, motivated and enjoying what you are doing. 

Some people who are anti running music fans, claim that running with music is something that is simply too distracting.  Unless you are running through meadows watching the sun rise or set, you more than likely are running with a few distractions.  Some of them may include the busy streets, the bustling people, and the noise on top of noise on top of noise atmosphere.  So, when you flip on your MP3 player and drown out that noise and distraction, you may just find it less distracting to be listening to your favorite rock band than listening to all that is happening around you.  You can also make a case for the simple thinking process that happens when you don't have something else to think about.  This too can challenge you.  Worry, wonder, stress all lead to less than satisfactory running laps.  So, is running music really that bad? 

The Other Side 

Okay, so not everyone is going to agree with this type of running music thinking.  Some people, even some doctor's consider running with music not to be bad, but that it can be stopping you from getting in touch with your own self.  Getting in touch with your emotions can actually be beneficial to your game.  Being alone in thought can help to centralize feelings.  In fact, it is a good way to learn to relax without the aids of anything, including music.   

The associative runner does not use anything besides their thoughts and breathing patterns throughout their run. 

Those that do use running music fit into a category known as the disassociatives.   

Paying attention to too much music while you run can actually cause you to subconsciously move to the music rather than to the pace you should be running at.  You may find this helpful, but other times it may not be.   

Another thing to consider on the negative side of music running is the fact that the pros really don't do it.  Not that that should matter to you, but why they don't may just make some sense.  Consider the race that you will be in next week, month, or next year.  Will you have music to pace yourself?  No, in fact, you will feel out of your normal sync without it.  So, it is important to get in tune with your body beforehand with balancing the running music with the running without music.   

Then again, a recent study out of Ohio State University says that running music can help to make you smarter.  The fact is that cognitive performance improved in individuals who ran with music as opposed to those who ran without.   

So, where does all this leave you?  With so many things popping into your head right now about whether or not it is a good thing to use running music, consider your own thoughts and feelings.  If music keeps you moving, then use it.  If it is the tool that gets you out the door each day, then use it.  But, try to get in some runs without any music just to see how things will go this way as well.  Getting in touch with your thoughts isn't a bad thing.  The ultimate decision is yours.