The Perfect Running Playlist
Feel like you can't get faster? Fix what's on your iPod: Running to music with a steady beat can improve your performance, finds new Dutch research.
In the study, men were able to run an average of 2 minutes longer to both motivational music and a metronome than they could without music. Their running cadence was more consistent with the metronome than with the music.
The researchers speculate that you may run more efficiently to a steady rhythm because you don't lose as much energy from accelerating and slowing down as you might to a song that changes tempo.
To craft the perfect running playlist, seek out songs with beats that never change. The ideal tempo for running usually falls between 85 and 95 beats per minute (BPM) when taking an entire stride cycle per beat, or 170 to 190 BPM taking a single stride per beat, says Costas Karageorghis, Ph.D., who researches music's effect on exercise.
Rap beats tends to be steady and fall on the lower end of the BPM scale, while very fast rock and thrash metal can work well at the higher end. Avoid classical music and progressive rock (which tend to slow down and speed up throughout), and highly syncopated music like jazz and salsa, which tend to emphasize the off-beat and can make syncing your stride a challenge.
“To enhance your running performance, raise the music tempo by one or two bpm beyond your comfort zone,” Karageorghis suggests. “This will increase your stride rate but the difference will be imperceptible.”
Don’t want to put that much thought into it? Apps like musclemorphosis.com, musclemorphosis.com, and musclemorphosis.com can take some of the guesswork out of it by finding the right songs for your pace, or changing the speed of your tracks as you run to match your stride.
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