The benefits of music are immeasurable. Yet, some people still wonder if it’s a good idea to listen to music while exercising. For example, athletes aren’t allowed to wear headphones in a race, so some prefer to train in silence claiming it helps prepare them mentally. While we don’t recommend plugging your ears while cycling on the road (all eyes and ears open, please!), we do find the mental, physical and emotional impact of music to be a great benefit to athletes of all kinds.
Music can help distract you from what you don’t want to focus on, such as fatigue and discomfort during training which would otherwise make you want to cut your workout short. It may even distract you to the point that you feel as if you can go further and faster.
Another mental music exercise is to put in your headphones right before a big competition. You may have pre-race jitters and need soothing sounds to help you relax, or maybe you need some loud, fast-paced tunes to amp up (an energy gel might help, too). Either way, music can help put you in the right mental space so you’re focused and ready to perform.
Runners can benefit from listening to music by matching their stride rate to the rhythm of music. Find an upbeat tempo song that is slightly above your stride rate to help you achieve a quicker turnover and overall running efficiency. (Tip: an efficient stride rate is 90+ per minute.)
Listening to your favorite music during exercise can have an effect on your attitude and even motivate you to work harder. Music seems to increase the enjoyment of exercise, making it more of a pleasure than a chore. With a positive attitude, you’ll always see positive results.
So, if you’re bored, need a way to focus or are simply tiring out too soon during your workouts, try adding a little music to your ears and rock out while you work out! You might be surprised where the rhythm takes you.
Amy Marsh is a four-time Ironman champion, two-time Iron distance champion, and was named the 2010 USAT Long Distance Triathlete of the Year. Brandon Marsh has been competing in triathlons since 1988, and can be counted on to be a top-10 contender in every event he enters. Got a question about swim-bike-run or sports nutrition for Team Marsh? Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter, follow Brandon @BrandonMarshTX and follow Amy @AmyCMarsh.