Friday, 10 May 2013

Music is my medicine

So I am sitting here trying to put a play list together for my first 50 mile Ultra Marathon next Saturday *GULP* and it got me thinking...

I love music and I always have. It has been and continues to be a massive part of my life. I have been in a lot of bands as well as doing solo stuff for well over half of my life so you could say that its just sort of built in!

Now the more I have have spoken to people the more I have come to realise that for some, mixing running and music is like mixing science and religion! "just don't do it, you pick one or the other and that's that!"
Its crazy how passionate people have got over this subject, running and music that is, not science and religion! I am not stupid enough to touch on the later, I am however just stupid enough to wade in on the music and running part.

A lot of you will be starting out and applying for races to find "MP3 players strictly prohibited" slapped all over the entry form and then start to panic as all of your training was with music! Well this again divides opinions and I have to say I am not sure on which side of the fence I sit so here are some of the pro`s and con`s of running with music.

Music is great! It helps you bop along and takes your mind off of everything. If you get the right play list together with a good beat you can match you cadence to that and just zone out, taking your mind off of the distance and the pain! Distraction is the key, crank up the volume and off you go and go and go and go!

If you are like any music lover you like it loud, here is where the problem is for the race director. You will not be able to hear any instructions from marshals, police, traffic and other runners. Potentially causing a hazard for yourself and others around you. The other issue with having music all of the time is because it puts your mind so far away from you feet, if you haven't built up a solid foundation of good form it is very easy to loose it and this can lead to injuries.

"So what do I do then Mr fence sitter!?"

Well I am more of a "have your cake and eat it" kinda guy! Personally I think that you can use music as a tool during your training to benefit your racing. Music can be used to hone your cadence as I mentioned above. For me, I like drum and bass, it normally has a bpm (beats per minute) of around 160 to 180 which is spot on for cadence training. It keeps my stride fast and short and well....I like it! :)
I used music in training to speed up my footfall but deliberately kept the volume low so I could concentrate on my form and used the music more like a metronome to time my feet to. You could of course just use a metronome, programme it to 90 or 180 bpm and get your feet in time with the beeps but it is a little more hardcore on the mind and you may find the beeping may make you want to break it!
Once I had got used to the way it felt to run with a quicker and shorter stride I started trying to run without the music to see how I was doing. It takes a little while but I really feel that it helps hone your technique and helps you to concentrate and think about how you are running.
Now I tend to use music as more of a painkiller on longer runs, I have worked so hard on my cadence that it is now naturally a lot quicker. I find it helps take my mind away from the inevitable pain and also serves as a bit of a pick me up in those dark times when you just want to sit down with a nice cup of tea.
I still keep the volume down so I can concentrate, well unless there is a really good bit! ;)
I find that for me music definitely has its place in my running providing I keep it down a bit so I also know what's going on around me. I see so many runners nearly get taken out by cars or cyclists because they are not watching the road or paying attention on trails.....scary stuff!


I can and will only speak for myself but I think its simple. Keep it down, keep it safe.
Music is my training buddy, my guide, my painkiller, my light in the dark, my power.
But always remember running fans, "with great power..........."

Till next time you crazy cats!


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