Should you listen to music on your run?

February 19 2018

A fantastic way to improve concentration and stay focused when you run is to listen music. It can motivate you, energise you or if you need, relax you and get your mind focussed on the race or workout you are about to tackle. In short, it’s pretty much the perfect addition to your training programme.

“Listening to music while running is a tried and tested formula that, for a number of reasons, can boost your performance every time you go out,” says Chris Helsen, Content Programming Manager, Amazon Music UK.

“Rhythmic, energetic music will improve your coordination and help you to keep pace, also motivating you and boosting your energy – particularly when coupled with empowering and motivating lyrics. Above all, listening to music you enjoy while you run will improve your mood, increase your enjoyment levels and provide a distraction from the task at hand, increasing endurance and reducing the perception of fatigue.”

Equally relaxing music will reduce arousal and calm you - your job is to simply determine what works best for you when it comes to enhancing performance: getting super motivated, or calming right down.

Choosing what works for you

Amazon Music has a range of running playlists – all carefully created to suit different tastes for UK running enthusiasts. However, it’s not just as simple as putting together any old collection of upbeat tunes. Amazon’s experts say that when you’re putting together the perfect running playlist there are a couple of key things to consider.

Aim for songs with a clear and steady beat that stick to a consistent tempo of around 80 to 90 BPM – both within each individual song and across the playlist itself. This is important because if you’re hitting your stride to the tempo of the verse and all of a sudden the chorus changes pace you’re likely to lose your rhythm. And finally, try to avoid songs with long or drawn-out intros or outros to help you keep up their hard-fought momentum!

Nike has created running-specific playlists that can be downloaded via iTunes. Look under the Health & Fitness section; there’s also something called ‘Coaching Runs’.  These are coached sessions, using some well-known sports/coaching personalities to do voice over, e.g. Serena Williams.  They use music by popular artists such as Mika and Amy Winehouse.  There are five of these Coaching Runs. They have one product called at Workout.

New kids on the block

Britain’s best young athletes know how music can help them achieve top performances. Georgina Adam, one of the best 200m runners around says: “Before each competition, I try to keep to the same routine, eating carbohydrates and protein meals. Preparing my bag, the day before and listening to my playlists that I have created which in turn motivates during my warm up sessions.

Likewise, England Commonwealth Games team member Molly Kingsbury says she “listens to a certain playlist before I compete to get me in the ‘zone” for the event’.”

Science agrees

A recent study at Brunel University confirms that rhythm and harmony play a massive role in the motivational effects music can have. A 4:4 rhythm that has a fast tempo and inspiring lyrics is the perfect combination. The good news is that ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ by the Beatles is just as effective as the Sex Pistols’ ‘Anarchy in the UK’. So, whether your musical preference is hardcore dance, rock, pop or punk, you’ll be able to create running playlists you’ll love.


Obviously blocking out traffic noise has serious safety implications, which is why England Athletics England Athletics has partnered with bone-conducting headphone brand AfterShokz, with bone-conducting headphones the only earphones fully approved for use in all road races under the UK Athletics rules of competition. “We recognise that many of our participants across track and field and running enjoy listening to music while warming up or competing, so partnering with the number one bone conducting headphone brand means that we can better ensure their safety,” says Chris Jones, CEO of England Athletics.

“The UK Athletics’ rules of competition are clear that ‘in-ear’ headphones cannot be used in events where roads are open to traffic. Using bone conduction technology, AfterShokz is able to deliver stereophonic sound through your cheekbones to your inner ear. Potentially preventing accidents caused by traditional headphones and earbuds that block out sounds, runners can enjoy their music and still hear everything around them – including traffic, emergency vehicles and other warning noises.”

DW Fitness First #RUNTOWIN Treadmill Challenge

Now you know what kind of music can help you run faster, why not take part in our Treadmill Challenge for the chance to win some race approved Aftershokz headphones?

From Monday 19th February to Sunday 25th February, you can choose to complete the Treadmill Challenge on your own or as part of a team, and the challenge is open to runners of all abilities. We're looking for people to complete:

-Individual - complete 20km

-Team - complete 100km (up to a team of 5)

The Aftershokz headphones will be awarded to those with the fastest times and randomly selected participants regardless of times submitted. Why not give it a go at your local gym