My music playlist is partitioned to my running moods. On those intense days, I try to play louder songs with a higher BPM (Beats Per Minute). On a more focused training regiment, I tend to play slower Electronica songs that have a slower BPM, but have a heavy bass. Everyone has their own musical tastes fit to their running regiment. But, is there some kind of science behind this link between running and our particular playlists? Sports psychologist Costas Karageorghis of Brunel University in London may have an understanding to all this. In his 20 year research, he points out that there are four general factors for this relation between music and running: association, cultural impact, musicality, and rhythm response. He breaks down these four factors into two categories referred to as internal and external factors.
Rhythm response and musicality are within the internal factor and deal with how the music affects the runner’s performance. Karageorghis hypothesizes that the rhythmic structure of the music affects the runner’s heart rate due to the particular song’s BPM. The BPM of the song can affect the cadence of the runner’s heart, or the heart’s heartbeat. The structure of the music can affect the runner’s mood and help influence the cadence of the runner’s heart as well. The external factors, deal with the associations we add on to the particular music we run to and how that motivates us to run further and long. It also allows the internal desire to wanting to stop from overcoming the runner as well.
Through a series of studies, particularly from the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, people who run or do cardio with some kind of music require less oxygen to perform the regiment. The studies also show that there is a 5-10% increase in endurance and performance with subjects who were subjected to treadmill and bike machine exercises. In other words, you should scan through your music library and refine your running playlist because it could help improve your performance on the road.