Like the idea of running to music but not sure where to start? Selecting music that you consider to be inspirational while sitting on the couch (“Eye of the Tiger” from Rocky, for example*), may not actually be as effective when you’re on the trails. Research has shown that running to music that is slightly higher than your natural pace will tend to speed you up. Songs with an obvious beat are especially helpful – they will help you find resonance without much effort on your part.
Not sure what your ideal tempo might be? Download a metronome app like “Metronome Beats” on your phone and use the “tap tempo” feature to calculate your footstep rate while running at a comfortable pace. If you want your music to give you a kick in the butt, look for tunes with a tempo of about 5 to 10 beats per minute faster than this pace.
On the other hand, to promote endurance and building up base fitness, look for music that matches your comfortable pace. Running mechanics researchers will tell you that runners tend to settle into a gait and pace that is most efficient for them, which means that you shouldn’t necessarily deviate from what feels most comfortable to you!**
Once you’ve figured out your ideal tempo, start making playlists! If you are a Spotify user, you can run to a Running Genre playlist with a beat that matches your ideal tempo. You can also search for other users’ playlists, as many people include the tempo in the playlist name if it is intended for running.
Have a song you like to run with? Leave a comment and let us know!
*Although “Eye of the Tiger” has a driving beat, it is only about 110 beats per minute, whereas most running paces fall into the 150 to 180 beats per minute range. In comparison, “Rebel Yell” by Billy Idol by has a similarly helpful driving beat, however it has a tempo of 166 beats per minute, which is within the sweet spot for many runners. Here are both songs:
** There are always exceptions to generalities, such as when a runner is suffering from chronic injury.