The Debate: Running with or without music

While running have you ever gotten so frustrated that you ripped out your ear phones and just demanded that Drake, The Ting Tings and Beyonce all just shut up for a minute while you run? That has happened to me on more than one occasion. I usually find listening to music a distraction from how far I plan on running and how long it will take me to get from point A to point B. Also it has been very automatic to make sure that I have my ipod strapped to my arm before bounding out the door. But as all of you will know, listening to music is not recommended by most athletes and trainers for various reasons. One main PRO, that is correspondingly a CON, is the fact that music is a distraction.




I read this article from Runner’s World that was published December 2010 and written by Adam Bean. He interviewed two people, Costas Karageorghis [Pro Music], a sports psychologist and Jim Denison, Ph.D [Anti-Music], a sports sociologist and coach. They debate their points considering the risks and benefits music can make on a runner’s trail and goal kms.

Running with Music

From the article…

What’s the big deal about running with music?
PRO: Music can sometimes make running feel easier. Studies find that music reduces your perception of how hard you are running by about 10 percent. An external stimulus such as music can actually block some of the internal stimuli trying to reach the brain—such as fatigue-related messages from muscles and organs. When these messages are blocked, this reduces a runner’s perception of effort, so you feel like you can run farther, faster. (The exception is at higher levels of effort—the brain involuntarily switches its attention from the external to the internal.) Music also elevates positive aspects of mood such as excitement and happiness, and reduces negative aspects such as tension, fatigue, and confusion, so it can be used pre-performance to get runners into an optimal mind-set.



CON: One big problem is that listening to music can remove you from the other sounds that running produces, such as breathing and footstrike, which are essential cues. They give you feedback on your effort. Running while listening to music also removes you from the environment you’re in, which can be unsafe. You may not hear a car or person behind you. You may not hear thunder in the distance. And in races, it makes you oblivious of other runners and you can’t hear the directions being given by officials. Would you ever drive or ride a bicycle with headphones on? Not likely, because doing so reduces awareness and increases reaction time. I want those things working for me. Finally, I believe runners can become dependent on music. Eventually, you can lose a sense of what might be truly motivating to you, such as the energized feeling you get on the run.


This subject will be a continuing debate amongst people in the running community. Personally, I think that music can be an effective tool in increasing energy and endurance. There have been studies where people will choose songs by the vocabulary and tempo used by the artists. To be more specific, researchers chose ‘pump up’ songs to see how the words, beat, and influx affected the performance of the runner. I won’t lie; I choose my workout songs very wisely for this reason. It’s easy to be motivated by an article you read, or a segement you saw online or on TV. But when you are running, the only motivator out there is you. Some runners can motivate themselves, but some of us rely on Beyonce to tell us that we ‘run the world’.

My personal challenge and my challenge to all of you is, leave your ipod at home tonight. Like our bodies I’m sure if needs a rest at some point! Choose a route full of nice scenery and take in what is around you as oppose to taking in the sounds of your ipod.
Then after, write me a message and tell me how you do and what you think of being a self-motivator!



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About jasminglaw

Half Marathoner trying to put a few more races under her belt before taking on a full marathon. I avidly research different running products/gear and articles pertaining to the joy of running. I also enjoy traveling, reading, languages, and good food!
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One Response to The Debate: Running with or without music

  1. alex says:

    no music!!!!

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