What’s Your Beat?

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t listen to music when I run.  This isn’t some grand philosophy about maximizing muscle recruitment or anything– I just don’t like wearing headphones.  (It’s also not about just needing to find the very best earbuds ever– I don’t like sound in my ears.  I’m too precious.)  But I digress…

I was interested in this article that was in the New York Times last week that describes recent research regarding running pace and the natural cadence of our internal beat.  The study showed that, left to our own devices, we prefer to run at a sub-optimal pace.  That means we aren’t really pushing ourselves as much as we could (and probably should) because our internal metronomes are a few beats slow.

This makes sense to me from the outset, as evolutionarily we humans have prized endurance over speed.  And you know what happens if you run faster than your body really wants to?  You get tired.  Quickly.  So running just a touch slower than we’re really capable of allows us to run for longer.

This, my friends, is the very basis of distance running training, and it has been for the last 30-40 years.  So why is the NYT reporting it as news?

What is new about this idea is the way technology comes in to play to get us to bump up our pace a few notches.  The article describes an iPhone app called Cruise Control that scans your iTunes playlist and finds the music that you already know and love that is at the optimal beats-per-minute for your designated pace-per-mile run.  Even for someone who has no interest in using an app like this, I have to admit that’s pretty cool.  

If you like the idea of running to music but don’t have a personal music library already going– or yours is a bit thin on music of the appropriate tempo– I recommend the site Run Hundred, which sends out an email list weekly of 10 songs that have a good beat for exercise.  I haven’t yet tested Run Hundred’s list with the Cruise Control app to see how well they work together.  (Let me know if you do!)

I’m not won over to the side of the music-in-my-ears-while-running crowd, but I certainly appreciate the role they play in training effectively for those who do.  Maybe it’s just the marching band nerd in me who still can’t listen to music while exercising without footstriking on the downbeat and wants to encourage others to do the same.

Good health and great happiness to you!

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2 responses to “What’s Your Beat?

  1. I saw that article too, and thought it was fascinating.

    Thanks for the Run Hundred tip – I am forever searching for good workout music…

  2. Pingback: More Music for your Monday |

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