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Why run with music?

by Clare Crean, MD, AudioFuel
Sunday 16th January 2011
Running with music is like marmite: some people love it and some people hate it. No one should run with music if they don’t enjoy it or find it helpful. And no one should run with music when it compromises their safety.

However, there is a growing body of evidence that running with music can increase performance and enjoyment. Here is a brief account of why that is.

At a purely functional level, a clear beat at the right tempo can be an effective way to control your pace (be that to make you go faster, or slower!). Watch the findings reported by the BBC here from research conducted by Professor Costas Karageorghis that confirms the importance of beat.


The vibe of the music can help create a good positive emotional state for running. For example dance and pop generally bounce you up; thrashing rock can inject some positive aggression, soaring choral work in the classical genre inspires some.

Memory is also a powerful tool; a song that you associate with a happy period in your life can also prompt the right emotions to positively affect the way you feel when you run which will in turn improve your performance.

You may not have noticed, but the lyrics can have a very positive subliminal effect on your emotions when you run. Tracks such as “Don’t stop me now” by Queen regularly appear in running playlists.

For a more detailed explanation and help with creating a good running playlist and inspiration from well known athlete playlists, visit the Virgin London Marathon’s music and motivation website.


Clare Crean, MD, is one of the three founders of AudioFuel. AudioFuel combine coaching with custom composed music to create training programmes for runners. Independent academic research has confirmed that using AudioFuel is a highly effective way to increase performance and motivation. Click here to try a free 25 minute AudioFuel programme.


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