Training with Music. Should you?

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Training with music.  A lot of runners, sports people and gym-goers wouldn’t dream of leaving the house without their trusted companion – the headphones.  But does training with music help or is it a hindrance?  Should running with music be banned in all races?  Many would argue you get the ‘runners high’ in a bigger dose if you ‘run naked’; ie run with just the sound of mother-nature in your ears. Lets look at the arguments:

Motivation

Runners World did a survey of 1100 runners and found music to be beneficial for motivation.  For me personally if I am motivated for a run I will do it regardless.  However I would say if I’m running alone for a long period of time music can certainly help me concentrate and alleviates any boredom from setting in.  Runners World found the runners surveyed had better ‘emotional control’ with music playing as they ran.  For me this can be a good thing or a bad thing.  If I have had a bad day there is nothing like relieving a bit of stress with a hard tempo run!

The Science

Dr Costas Karageorghis from Brunel University London says that “running with music can improve athletic performance up to 15%”.  His research tells us that that music ‘lowers the perception of effort’ so therefore we run, faster, longer.  This is backed up by other sources including research I found from Loughborough University.  So the academics back the trend for music but what about the purists?

Run Naked

The term ‘run naked’ doesn’t mean to streak through the wilderness on your next long Sunday run.  It means to run without music, as nature intended.  Just you, a pair of trainers, some RunBreeze kit and the open road or field or track or anywhere else you like to run.  Purists would argue that this is the way to do it.  Plus its safer.  Running with headphones in races is slowly being eradicated due to ‘safety reasons’.  Also I would argue to make races a level playing field.  If Dr Karageorghis is right some of the field in your local 10km are getting an advantage if they are choosing (and allowed to) run with music.

Summary

My preference would always be to train without music with other people.  I love the social side of sport and like nothing more than being in a group of like minded people.  However when I train alone I will get my headphones out and join the music revolution.

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