In running, there are two schools of thought when it comes to music: (1) the purists who believe running is a time of peace and solitude – a time to get away from all the noise of life and collect one’s thoughts in silence, and (2) the iPoders, who couldn’t imagine running without the distraction and assistance of good tunes. It is a heated debate – maybe more heated than the healthcare debate! It is a war silently waged on the running path each day – with the purist quietly cursing the iPoder in front of him, blaring music so loudly that he is oblivious to the calls of “on your right,” and doesn’t budge to let other runners around. I must confess, I have always been an iPoder.
To iPod or Not to iPod, that is a Fitting Debate
The other day I came across two studies that investigated this topic, in particular, the mind-body connection and its relationship with endurance sports.
The first study was conducted in 2002 by Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia (Meeks and Herdegen, American Council on Exercise, 2002). This study looked at the rate of perceived exertion (RPE) and recovery rate of cyclists who listened to music vs. those who rode in silence. The study had 12 male college students ride stationary bikes for 10-minute periods with 5-minute recoveries. Conclusion: The men who listened to music while biking rode an average of 11% farther than those who pedaled in silence. However, there was no significant difference in recovery rate.
The second was a longitudinal study from 1988-2008, conducted at Brunel University in London (Karageorghi, US Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 2008). This study examined how different types of music can affect exercise performance. One portion of the study had 30 subjects jog on a treadmill while listening to a selection of pop and rock tunes, such as songs by Queen, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Madonna. The runners were instructed to keep in strict time with the beat of the song. Conclusion: Music can enhance endurance by 15% and improve positive feelings associated with the exercise, such as pleasure, even when working at exertion levels near physical exhaustion.
I cannot say that I am surprised with the findings of these studies. I know how music can make or break a run for me. But even if you don’t support running with iPods (especially on race day), think about various cardio classes you have attended. When a great song comes on, how does that make you feel? Or coming around a bend in a race and “Eye of the Tiger” comes on…you cannot say that you don’t get a rush of adrenaline or a second wind!
(RIP Steve Jobs)
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Sorry LL, I’m usually a purist. I especially can’t stand it when runners wear headphones during a race. I feel like they are missing out on the whole experience. At St. George, I was feeling great, and wanted to share the feeling with my fellow marathoners. But so many were wearing headphones, and I was unable to bond. When they did want to chat, they would yell…