How To Run Faster, Harder, and Longer With The Right Music

By Staff Reporter on August 7, 2012 12:20 PM EDT

Running up the "Rocky steps"
Running (Photo: wikipedia)

A leading expert on the psychophysical and ergogenic effects of music at Brunel University in the UK has announced that the type of music we listen to can help boost our running performance. This is probably something many of us have noticed over the years. After all, how many men have watched the Rocky movies over the past three decades and suddenly felt the urge to run? 

But still, Dr. Coastas Karageorghis has backed up his theory with scientific reasons, and he's obviously proven, as he was asked to create custom workout soundtracks for several US athletes at the London Olympics. 

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"Music has the propensity to elevate positive aspects of mood such as vigor and excitement, and reduces negative aspects such as tension and fatigue," says Karageorghis to TIME. "It reduces perceived effort, and training to a musical beat can enhance endurance."

Karageorghis has provided a few tips on what to listen to if you want to enhance your running performance. 

Select tracks with fast beats

Karageorghis told TIME that synchronizing your strides with an upbeat song can subconsciously help you run faster, because, he reasons, you don't feel you're working as hard as you really are. "Upbeat music increases activity in a part of the brain called the ascending reticular activating system, which pinches you while you're running," he said. 

Karageorghis did a study in 2009, in which he split a group of runners into two groups--one ran to fast-paced rock music, the other did not. The group who listened to energetic music ran 15 percent faster.

Stick with what you know

 A song's cultural impact could motivate you, according to the Karageorghis. Ah, this is the "Rocky" factor we mentioned earlier. Karageorghis said that the London Olympics used the theme song to Chariots of Fire because the song is often associated with heroic feats, and that in term pumps up the athletes. So fans of Rocky should listen to "Gonna Fly Now" or "Eye of the Tiger" to run, and fans of The Dark Knight Rises should listen to "Why Do We Fall" off the soundtrack when they're climbing.

Be choosy about lyrics

Basically, choose songs with lyrics that motivates you or makes you feel good. Michael Phelps famously listened to Lil Wayne's "I'm Me" during the 2008 Beijing games, because, let's face it, he's a narcissist. A song like Eminem's "Lose Yourself" has the beats and the lyrics to be a great running song. 

© 2012 iScience Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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