Run with music to boost performance

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  • Music can help you stick to your workout

    Exercising while listening to music with a strong beat can make you go longer and faster and help achieve a more effective workout.

    Repetition, which we sense as rhythm, is at the root of all music. Running, too, is composed essentially of repetitions: heartbeat, respiration, footfall. This is the most basic connection between music and movement, and the one that is most easy to exploit for competitive training.

    The first point to note is that beat is paramount, but it doesn’t have to match your stride pattern precisely. There are certainly some up-tempo songs – soulful house music of the Eighties and Nineties, for example – that are good to lock on to, stride for stride.

    But, curiously, it is often much slower music – soul, hip-hop or dancehall reggae, say – that instils most strongly the sensation of having your feet propelled by the beat of a drum. Somehow, the brain makes the footfalls work just ahead of or behind the beat.

    This riding of a beat is what gives music a sense of swing. And, once you’re swinging, running becomes a pleasure, not a chore.

    But bear in mind the advice of Bupa physiotherapist, Simon Fairthorne: ‘The use of loud music can expose runners to injuries from cars when running near or crossing roads as the runner may not be able to hear reversing cars.’


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