You’re running laps round Priory Park lake as part of your interval training. The last couple of sprints have worn you out and your legs have no more to give. But wait, the intro to Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ starts on your phone and you’re off, running like you’ve never run before (apart from the last time it came on) and you’ve cut 2 seconds off your PB – job done!
Training whilst listening to headphones is a contentious issue in the running community, polarising people in parks, tracks and towpaths up and down the country. Apparently there are two types of runners, those who are “associators” who like to have inward focus when running and “dissociators” who need to focus outwards and be distracted by what how they might be feeling. Let’s have a look at both sides of the debate:
FOR – The Budmeisters
Runners, especially those who are new to long distance, find music to be an excellent distraction when they are a few miles in and feeling weary.
Studies have shown that external stimuli can block out fatigue, increase your concentration and leave you feeling positive.
It can be particularly useful in fartlek/interval training, with pumping songs helping you to keep the short sprint sessions going.
For those training for longer races on their own, it can also be nice company when you’re out for 2 hours on a Sunday morning, pounding the Surrey streets.
AGAINST – El Silencios
Many purists believe that you are better able to listen to your breathing and be attuned to your body and rhythm, when not distracted by music.
One of the joys of running can also be that chance to clear your thoughts and empty your mind of the day’s issues, returning home in a much more peaceful state of mind.
At times music can result in you running too fast – think Michael Jackson’s ‘Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough’ (or pass out) versus too slow such as Adele’s ‘Make You Feel My Love’ (running and crying don’t mix).
You can also enjoy the beautiful nature that we have in Reigate, birds singing, squirrels leaping, leaves crunching and passers by shouting out warnings of dog poo ahead.
There are some runners who straddle these stereotypes choosing to have just one ear phone in, so they can listen to music and the outside world. I personally am not able to multi-task in such a way and those people will only receive half of the wonder that is Kylie and Jason’s ‘Especially for You’.
Each to their own I say! As long as you’re safe, watch out for small children and zombies …