Go for a run on the treadmill in the gym or outside around the park and you will most likely see people running with their headphones in. Running and music seem to go hand-in-hand nowadays, which begs the question, does music help you run? Is it better to run in silence and focus on your breathing or can music make you run faster and help you beat your personal best times? We explore the answers to these questions with the help of RockMyRun.

Running and Music: How music helps with running

There are different ways that music can help with running—mentally and physically.

In fact, so much that running and music have become integral with one another. People say that it helps them run when they listen to a motivating song, or it makes them move faster when there is a higher tempo. But it isn’t just all talk—it has also been scientifically proven.

Listening to music while you are running can make the actual act of running seem much easier. And as you know, it is often the mental challenge of running that is more difficult than the physical act, so this can make all the difference for runners.

One study found that “During a run, music can function as a distractor, drawing attention away from feelings of pain and fatigue.” It lowers perceived effort and perception of how hard you are running, making it an easier task to accomplish.

It also contributes to your motivation. RockMyRun, alongside, EPARC, conducted their own study when comparing the effects of running and music, in particular, their own RockMyRun Body Driven Music. These were music mixes professionally curated that encouraged synchronous running. The study showed that intrinsic motivation was dramatically improved by up to 35% using RockMyRun’s playlists. This further demonstrates that music can make running a lot more enjoyable for participants.

But can music make you run faster?

According to RockMyRun, it can. Their study also illustrated that participants ran nearly 3% faster listening to RockMyRun’s music mixes than with a general playlist. They followed instructions to run at a pace that was comfortable to them–not too easy nor challenging. They weren’t focusing on a certain distance or time goal. This really shows the positive effects of music and how music can make you run faster. Even when speed wasn’t the end goal or focus, people were still able to intuitively improve their speed and perform better. 

Another study here shows the correlation between emotional state and athletic performance. As participants reported feelings of pleasure while running, they also indicated an increase in performance. In fact, performance was actually higher in people who listened to music that had higher scores on the Brunel Music Rating Inventory-2 (BMRI-2) (songs deemed as more motivational). 

In addition, Professor Costas, from Burnel University and author of Inside Sport Psychology, claims that music can help increase performance by up to 15 percent. 

What music is best for running?

This is not to say that every song is the best to optimize performance. Music is a personal and very subjective preference. It can be difficult to exactly pinpoint what music is good for runners and what is not. In saying that, athletes do tend to favour music that share some common factors.

Songs that are loud, have motivating lyrics (that trigger positive emotions) and a constant rhythmic beat are most rated to be best for runners. While there is no correct answer, find music that has a bpm range of 120-180 bpm to cover low intensity and high intensity running. 

So, does music help you run?

To answer your questions, ‘does music help you run?’ and ‘can music make you run faster?’, the answer is an astounding yes. Many studies that have illustrated the positive effects of running and music. They have shown how it can boost both mental and physical performance in runners. Not to mention, it can help make running much more enjoyable which people more motivated to stick to it.

The benefits of running and music may be obvious but we know that finding songs can still be difficult. This is why to help you with your own running playlist, Zen Labs Fitness has teamed up with RockMyRun to bring you your own “Zen Power Playlist.” We are excited to be helping you improve your running through the power of music that has been specifically chosen for you!

Navigate to the music icon 🎵 on the bottom toolbar inside the running apps and click the “Z” music icon to start your free trial today!

Do you believe that running and music are integral to each other? What music do you like to listen to when you run? Leave us a comment below, we would love to know!