Running to Music – Boost Endurance With Your Headphones On !

Flickr Image - Pavel Matveyev

I owe a big part of my training consistency to the uplifting beat sound of music.

In fact, music is an integral part of running routine. If truth be told, I’m not more likely to go running without my earphones than I’m to go running in a spacesuit.

Music is my companion and my favorite running partner, period.

Nonetheless, running with music is really an emotive topic. Some love music and can’t imagine going on with their running lifestyle without the its upbeat sound.

On the other hand, and to my bewilderment, I also know of runners who can’t stand music. They just hate it.

Nonetheless, the scientific facts do not lie. Music is awesome, and plenty of studies have shown, over and over again, its effectiveness and usefulness when it comes to improving athletic performance—running is no exception.

In fact, research has found that music can help you reduce your perception of how hard you are running by up to 10 percent. This might not sound as much, but it can be real game changer—especially if you are looking to give your athletic performance a little nudge.

Not only that, plenty of research has also revealed that music can provide you with the ongoing stimulus, boost concentration, lowers levels of perceived exertion and by and large leave you feeling more positive and upbeat, all of which can help your running a lot.

Here is one research to check out.

A study conducted at Brunel University has confirmed that putting on the headphones while running could boost endurance by up to 15 percent. That can be a huge help, especially if you are facing a training plateau, or looking to improve your performance.

How to Boost Endurance With Your Headphones On

Without further ado, here is how to make the most out of your playlists while running:

The Two Sides of Music

Of course, I looooove music, but that doesn’t mean that all music is a go. In fact, music is not created equal. You gotta go for the right kind if you are serious about getting the most out of it; otherwise, don’t bother.

There are two types of music:

(1) that can do good to your workouts

(2) while others may actually slow you down

So which is which and how can you tell?

The research conducted on the topic of music and athletic performance has actually a lot to offer.

The ideal spot, regarding tempo, is between 120 and 140 beats per minute (bpm), according to Costas Karagerghis, Ph.D., a sports psychology expert at Brunel University in London, and the guy behind the study I mentioned earlier.

According to the study, subjects were able to cut an average of half of a second off their 400-meter run when they listened to songs within the 120-140 tempo range.


It’s actually quite simple. Fast-paced music, especially, can help, because it takes your mind away from the aches and pains of running and helps you stay focused. Picking tunes with a tempo range between 120 to 140 bpm will kick you into gear when you need it the most.

As a result, make sure to go for the 120 to 140 beats per minutes songs to get the most bangs out of your running playlist.

But be Careful Here.

The fast-paced music can definitely improve your performance, but you shouldn’t ignore your body’s signals of pain and discomfort. If you go on ignoring them, then you are setting yourself for injury and overtraining. And you don’t want that, do you?

So that’s why you ought to use music with caution.

Picking Your Playlist…

As long as you adhere to the 120 to 140 beats per minute range, you can listen to anything you want.

Pick songs that mirror your running effort and heart rate, going for songs whose lyrics fire you up and give you the push you need during low points of your workouts—when you usually feel like crap.

Sounds complicated but just keep on reading and you’ll get it.

Here is how to proceed:

Warm up and cool down for your runs with slower songs with tempos within the 80 to 90 bpm range, like “Roar” by Kathy Perry (90 bpm), or Jessie J’s “Price Tag” (88 bpm).

As you up the ante and push your running pace, go for songs within the sweet spot of 120 to 140 bpm range—such as “Applause” by Lady Gaga (140 bpm) and Florence + The Machine fantastic song “Dog Days Are Over” (150 bpm).

See, it’s simple.

And if you are feeling overwhelmed here and you feel like you don’t have the time and the willpower to pick songs according to their bmp, then feel free to use an app to pick the songs within the range you desire. It’s that easy.

Stay Safe while Running with Music

Incorporate these tips into your running to music experience:

Ease Up

Take it easy on your ears. Blasting your ears with your favorite songs may feel uplifting, but it may also lead to temporary hearing loss and other health troubles.

In most cases, hearing will recover fully in about 12 to 18 hours after the run.

Making a habit of upping the volume to the max on your headphones will undoubtedly lead to permanent damage, period.

Invest in Hood Headphones

Don’t get me wrong here. Listening to music while running is not all roses and sunshine. There are some downsides to it, and if you are not aware of them, you could be setting yourself for trouble.

One major complaint I have about running to music is that it can block you from the other sounds that running produces, such as footstrike and breathing—important cues for efficient running.

Not only that, loud music can also render you unaware of your environment and remove you from your environment and surroundings—making your outdoor workouts unsafe and hazardous, and you don’t want that.

Also, a “deaf runner” is at a higher risk of getting hit by a car. That’s why you ought to be conscious of everything; traffic, cyclists, pedestrians, and the rest. Even if this means that sometimes you’ll have to slow it down and be mindful of what’s around you.

Therefore, to keep trouble at bay, make sure to invest in good quality earphones. The type that offers excellent quality sound but allows you also to hear what’s going on in your surroundings.

Here are a few good headphones to consider:

Sony MDRAS600BT Active Sports Bluetooth Headset

 JLab’s Epic2 Bluetooth Wireless Earbuds

Jabra Sport Pace Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds

Give Music a Break…Every Now & Then

Although I love music, I don’t think that you should always have it on.

And here is why…

Sometimes running without music can help you become a better runner by helping you increase and heighten your body awareness.

Ignoring body signal of discomfort and pain while listening to music will only lead to trouble—especially if you are beginner runner whose primary goal is to get fit without getting hurt.

That’s something I already warned you about.

As a result, if you are going to stick with the music thing for the long haul, then make sure to keep an eye on your body the entire time. Failure to accurately interpret its feedback and signals of pain and discomfort will do you more harm than good.

You might also choose to run without music just to be alone without your thoughts. Yeah, that’s scary sometimes. Our minds can be our greatest enemy. Nevertheless, you’ll find that when you get into the “zone,” your thoughts cease to annoy you. They become just the background with no effects on you.

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That’s it for today. Hopefully, you liked my running to music blog post. Please leave your comments and questions below. Or email me if you need to.



  1. Hi David – This post is spot on! Music definitely makes running more enjoyable and I can run for longer if I’m listening to it. In fact, at this stage of my running – I can’t not listen to music while running but I aspire to do that. It’s interesting to know the science behind the music. I don’t know what the bpm of songs are, but just intuitively know I run better when the song is a bit faster. I hate when I chose a new song, and know within a few seconds that running to it, is going to be a drag. In future I’ll try and find out the bpm of a song before I download the track 🙂

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