Athletics Magazine

Could This Be a Trick to Running Faster?

By Brisdon @shutuprun

On my run today I nearly threw my iPod in a ditch. I kept getting tangled in the wires and I hated every song that came on. Then I said to myself, “Self! Why are you even listening to music? It’s a gorgeous spring morning. You could be listening to the birds. And, your own heavy breathing.”  <-which is  a total turn on by the way.


This has been happening more and more to me lately. While I’ve historically been a music-slut on my runs, I’ve been taking my iPod with me less often. Hell yes, there are times that music is what I want and need to distract me on super long runs or to give me a boost during races. Yet, using music on my every day runs feels like I’m shutting out the world.

I don’t know why I’ve changed. It’s been gradual. Perhaps it was the fact that during Ironman races you can’t have music (dude  if you are me, that is like 12-13 hours of intense exercise with no tunes). I think I learned to train without it most of the time.

Or, maybe it’s because life has felt so hectic lately that it’s nice to not worry about bringing one more thing on my runs.


I don’t know and I guess it doesn’t matter. We should all just do whatever the hell we want to do. I don’t think music is a “crutch” or makes anyone less of a runner because they love their music. For years,  have depended on it. It’s just personal preference.

I do think it’s interesting, however, that a bunch of research has shown that listening to music can potentially make you run faster and even increase energy levels. 

A article reported, “In a study of Australian triathletes, researchers found that listening to music tracks by the likes of Queen, Madonna and the Red Hot Chili Peppers increased the athletes’ energy efficiency by 1 percent to 3 percent, enabling them to do more with the same amount of oxygen.” Apparently listening to tunes can reduce the perception of effort significantly and increase endurance by as much as 15 percent!!

A report published (2014)  in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research stated that when runners listened to music during 5Ks they ran faster than without it. I’m guessing it depends on the tempo of the music used. Enya and AC/DC aren't quite the same (I’m a genius).

The question probably boils down to whether you are an internal runner or an external runner. Do you seek your motivation from outside sources like music, talking to people in groups, taking in the scenery, etc.? Or, are you the type who goes deep into yourself and your thoughts and wants no external distractions? I’m a bit of both – and it sort of depends on my mood and the type of running I’m doing. Speed or treadmill workouts? Bring on the tunes.

Do you listen to music while you run? Why or why not?

Do you think music improves your performance and/or makes you faster? In shorter races, yes.


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