Have you ever had a song come on at exactly the right time on a run? You almost get lost in the music and feel like you’re flying. But, you’ve probably also had a run where you got so pissed off that you yanked your earbuds out and were forced to listen to the sound of yourself gasping for air. Sometimes, not having music on at all allows us to be alone with our thoughts-which can be very beneficial, but it can also get boring. There’s really something to be said about the beat of a song helping us maintain a great pace.
Like most things, it’s all about preference. I know people who are totally against listening to music when they run, claiming it’s distracting and even unsafe. Personally, I love having a wide range of music to listen to on a run. I’m still able to be alone with my thoughts, while also pacing myself through whatever music I have playing.
Here’s how a bumpin’ playlist can improve your run…
1.) Cadence control (which is ultimately the amount of strides per breath).
2.) Gives you bounce, which means less impact on your joints.
3.) Helps you maintain your goal race pace (that is if you have the correct music playing).
4.) Helps your breathing pattern, which allows you to relax and not feel panicked.
5.) Relaxes you more, which helps with better capillary control and ultimately less muscle fatigue.
6.) Helps you pass the time.
7.) And the most obvious… gets you “In the Zone”.
Your playlist is kind of like a science.
But, it actually is. If you were wondering what I meant by “if you have the correct music playing”, this will answer your question(s). Have you ever heard of beats per minute (BPM)? BPM is the number of times a beat is repeated in one minute of a song. Throw it back to middle school, when you were forced to take that music class you might not have cared to take. Remember tapping your foot along to the beat of the song? That’s essentially all it is. You might also know this term as the tempo. You want the tempo to match your stride/pace.
Before you find out what your BPM is, you need to find out what pace you run at. Start by going out and running a mile or two. Don’t rush and overexert yourself, but try and run at the steadiest pace you can. Find out what your average pace of that distance is. This should be in minutes, so if you ran two miles in 20 minutes, your average pace is 10 minutes per mile. There are several applications you can download right to your phone to find out your pace (I use MapMyRun).
There is a wealth of information on how to calculate your own BPM, however, I used this fantastic resource. Not only did it tell me my BPM, but it gave me hundreds of pages of songs that matched my tempo. If that resource doesn’t have a particular song you’re looking for, there’s another search engine that could be of good use. If you simply google a song’s BPM, it comes up immediately.
The wonderful thing about BPM is the variety of music you’ll get for your pace. For example: If you ran an 8:45 pace, your matching BPM would be 162-163. Two songs that match that tempo are “Sugar We’re Goin Down” by Fall Out Boy, and “Cowboy Take Me Away” by The Dixie Chicks. These songs are polar opposite, but will equally help you stay on pace.
Don’t deprive yourself of your favorite jam just because it doesn’t match your BPM. My playlist even has songs that don’t match my BPM. I like to be in sync when I run (this may or may not mean actually listening to NSYNC…this is a judgment free zone) even if that means not every song is the exact BPM I need. Even though having a more tempo based playlist will likely improve your runs, you don’t have to give up that one song you can’t run without.
So it might be time to revamp your playlist. You might just get faster, and your playlist will continue to evolve.
My Top 20 Favorite Running Songs:
1.) Halo– Beyoncé
2.) Hall of Fame (feat. will.i.am)- The Script
3.) Rise– Katy Perry
4.) Empire State of Mind (feat. Alicia Keys)-JAY Z
5.) Elastic Heart– Sia
6.) Alive– Sia
7.) Photograph- Ed Sheeran
8.) And We Danced (feat. Ziggy Stardust)-Macklemore
9.) Brother (feat. Gavin DeGraw)- NEEDTOBREATHE
10.) GDFR (feat. Sage the Gemni & Lookas)- Flo Rida
11.) Love Me Like You Do– Ellie Goulding
12.) Runaways- The Killers
13.) Stand By You– Rachel Platten
14.) What a Feeling– Collie Buddz
15.) All the Above (feat. T-Pain)-Maino
16.) Blister in the Sun- Violent Femmes
17.) Sucker For Pain (with Logic, Ty Dolla $ign & X Ambassadors)- Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa & Imagine Dragons
18.) On Top of the World– Imagine Dragons
19.) Son’s Gonna Rise– Citizen Cope
My playlist is all over the place, mostly because I’m a stone cold weirdo. Also, I really like to mix up the genre’s because it keeps it exciting at the right moments, and mellow at others. These are just a few of the tunes that have made it over the last two years. Since my pace has improved, it’s time for me to revamp my playlist too.