What’s the first thing you do when you step outside for a run? If you’re like the majority of people — 64 percent of runners, according to the 2017 National Runner Survey conducted by Running USA — you pop in your earphones and put something on to listen to. People listen to music or podcasts or audiobooks for a range of reasons. For some, it helps them run faster. For others, it keeps them from getting bored with an otherwise tedious chore. And still others listen to nothing at all.
The studies we have so far on music and running seem to suggest that there’s at least a marginal benefit to listening to music when you run. One 2015 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning found that music may bump up times during a 5k — and improve recovery — at least a little bit. Another 2008 study published in The Sport Journal found that certain tracks really get people going when they’re working out.
“Our recent research has uncovered the tendency among athletes and exercisers to coordinate bursts of effort with those specific segments of a musical track they find to be especially motivating,” the researchers wrote. “We refer to the phenomenon as segmentation (Priest & Karageorghis, 2008). The segmentation effect is particularly strong if the individual knows the musical track very well and can anticipate the flow of the music. It is also beneficial to match the tempo of music with the intensity of the workout.”
In case that was too dry or technical, they’re basically saying that if you play your jam when you’re running, it will make you run faster. So maybe put it at the end of your playlist for when you need a little help getting through that last quarter mile.