How Many Runners Listen to Music While Running?
Do you listen to music while you run? According to a survey conducted by Runner’s World in 2016, 61% of runners said that they listen to something while they run and 82% of these runners cited music as their number one choice (over audiobooks, podcasts, and the like.). Furthermore, Statistica.com conducted a survey a year later of nearly 7,000 runners in the US, finding 55% of them listen to music when they run.
According to this recent research, a majority of runners find benefit in listening to music while they run. And I am one of these runners.
How I Started Running
I have been a runner for practically my entire life. I started running in elementary school, after winning a “Lap it Up” contest by running more laps around the school’s soccer field than any other student in the school! Running lap after lap before school, after school, and during lunch is how I discovered how much I love running. And I’ve been running ever since.
The Sony Walkman Made Running With Music Possible
Couple my love of running with the fact that I have always been an early adopter of technology and you won’t be surprised to learn that I purchased a first-generation Sony Walkman so I could run to music back when I was a senior in high school.
I took that portable music player with me everywhere I went (including up to college the following year), perhaps because I was an incredibly shy, introverted teen. When I would turn on the player and start listening to popular rock bands of the 80s like Van Halen, Journey, and REO Speedwagon, I could forget about my worries and cares, breathe in the fresh air that surrounded me, and run for miles and miles seemingly without effort.
Has This Ever Happened to You?
You go out for a run, turn on some music, and all of a sudden you’re stepping to the beat? You don’t even really like the song that much but somehow you feel like you’re “in the zone?”
I get it. I used to play the clarinet in my high school’s marching band. Stepping to the beat isn’t new to me! But when I would magically stumble upon a good running song I realized that stepping to the beat could make running, especially long distances, a thoroughly enjoyable, experience!
In the early ’80s, I bought a tape-to-tape cassette recorder. This device enabled me to “dub” mixed tapes that were chock full of my favorite perfect-for-running tracks. I would put the purchased cassette of the album I wanted to record from in the deck on the left, and a recordable cassette in the deck on the right (The Teacs were my favorites because they were just so cool-looking) press record, and voila, all of the songs that I found great to run to could be recorded in succession on one magical tape!
The Evolution of Digital Music
And not surprisingly in the year 2000, when digital music players started coming out, I purchased a powerful, feature-rich MP3 player called iRiver. I could connect this device to my cassette player with an audio cable to digitally record hundreds of perfect-tempo running songs on one tiny device. I could even organize and subdivide the tracks into folders, or playlists, a whole year before Apple released its first iPod. And the device was so small, it was much easier to carry while running than the Walkman.
Suffice it to say, running with music is something that I was passionate about in my youth and that I am even more passionate about now as a running coach. It’s the reason I decided to dig a little deeper into the research to find out if there’s any scientific evidence to support what I believe to be true, that listening to music while running is beneficial.
Through my research, I found out that matching your steps to a music beat has a name. It’s called Auditory-Motor Synchronization. Scientists have been studying the effects of auditory-motor synchronization on running performance since the turn of the 21st Century. Coincidentally, that’s when MP3 players started to become popular with runners.
Read more about the research and benefits of running to music in my next post in my “running with music” series.
Until then, leave a comment about your experiences with listening to music while running. I’d love to hear them!
Keep stepping to the beat!