DR. LISBETH HOYT, PT, DPT & CSCS.
Do you run with music? We think of running with music as just a personal preference, but what if there were certain conditions in which running with music could improve your running to exhaustion time or help you forget about the environment you’re running in?
If you ask any runner their ideal running conditions. it’s very unlikely that the words hot and humid will be included in the description. Running in the heat increases not only the perceived sense of effort but also the physiological strain of running. Both of these can impair overall running performance. A group of researchers in Malaysia examined whether listening to synchronous music while running had an effect on performance, perceived exertion, heart rate, blood lactate, and hydration status.
Synchronous music is music in which the pace and tempo matches the activity. The researchers compiled a list of 20 music tracks, ranging from Nirvana to DJ Khaled, to be synchronized to each individuals’ running stride. The music was played throughout the subjects’ running time.
Twelve males runners who consistently run 3 days a week were recruited as participants to complete two different running trials, one with music and one without. Prior to the experimental runs, participants had 3 sessions to familiarize themselves with the treadmill and to establish a baseline VO2 max. For the experiment, each participant completed a running trial at 60% of their VO2 max for 60 minutes and then continued running at 80% of their VO2 max until exhaustion; once while listening to music, once without music. The runners had a 1 week recovery period between each test. While running, participants reported their rating of perceived exertion (RPE) and their heart rate was recorded at 15 minute intervals. Blood and urine samples were taken as well to measure blood lactate and hydration status.
So what did they find? The biggest benefit of running with synchronous music was seen in the time to exhaustion. Runners ran for an average of 2.5 minutes longer in hot and humid conditions with music than without. Additionally, their ratings of perceived exertion were lower when they listened to music. The authors found that heart rate averaged 1-3 beats/minute slower during the music condition, but it is unclear if this is advantageous or not. Researchers did not find a difference in blood lactate or hydration status between the two conditions.
Running with music isn’t for everybody, but it can help you get through a run in some tough conditions, presumably by allowing your brain to focus elsewhere for a period of time. I personally have a few playlists that help me to hit certain paces in workouts that sound daunting on paper. Whether it’s the music or not, I feel like it helps and I definitely enjoy the run a little more.
Source: Nikol, L., Kuan, G., Ong, M., Chang, Y.-K., & Terry, P.C. (2018). The Heat Is On: Effects of Synchronous Music on Psychophysiological Parameters and Running Performance in Hot and Humid Conditions. Frontiers in Psychology, 9. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01114ng elit. Phasellus hendrerit. Pellentesque aliquet nibh nec urna. In nisi neque, aliquet vel, dapibus id, mattis vel, nisi. Sed pretium, ligula sollicitudin laoreet viverra, tortor libero sodales leo, eget blandit nunc tortor eu nibh. Nullam mollis. Ut justo. Suspendisse potenti.