Rising up, back on the street
Did my time, took my chances
Went the distance, now I’m back on my feet
Just a man and his will to survive
Whether you are a fan of Survivor or not I suspect everyone knows the lyrics to Eye of the Tiger at this stage. As incredibly sad as it sounds (and I’m sure it does), it’s one of my go to songs for when I need a booster while running.
To choon or not to choon has been a debate among runners since the world went wild for walkmans! For me when the fatigue sets in and I need to channel all my energies, dig deep and push forward I find that a song with a good beat helps me get back into my stride and keep going. Of course Eye of the Tiger has the added bonus of immediately putting you in Rocky mode and Rocky ain’t a quitter.
Like anything else, there are pros and cons to running with or without music. I’ve chatted to quite a few fellow runners and the decision to choon or not choon seems to vary quite a lot. Some like to chat away to running buddies as they pound the ground. Some like the sound of the ground being pounded foot step after footstep. Some race off into their own stream of thought and just absorb the sounds around them as they run their chosen route. Others like me prefer the sound of music flowing through their ears.
Some of the more serious runners tend to avoid music in favour of listening to their own bodies. How they land on the road and their breathing are vital pieces of feedback to help them adjust and compete. Apparently some studies show (I read that online) that listening to music increases concentration, lowers perception of effort and keeps you more stimulated.
Some would argue that running with headphones is a health and safety issue. It increases your risk of an accident if you don’t hear that car coming behind you. I have actually seen on some race sights a notice in reference to the use of headphones i.e. stating they are not allowed or discouraged. Obviously something like this would be impossible to police so essentially a blind eye is turned and should something happen to you as a result of wearing headphones the race organisers will not be responsible.
For me running with music helps me to get into the ‘zone’. I like to start it off with slightly slower songs, nothing with too much of a beat to it. Then as I fall into my natrual pace I like to play songs which have similar beats to them and a mix of both vocal and just instrumental. I find if an upbeat song comes on I naturally run quicker whether I’m trying to keep pace or not. That’s probably something I should try an avoid so I’m not doing bursts of running faster and wearing myself out.
I also have what I like to call my ’emergency playlist’ and laugh as you may but for me it actually works. I find it particularly useful when I’m doing a half marathon for example. I might be on the last couple of kilometres and need that extra push so I’ll shuffle to my playlist and without fail I’ll always manage to pick up the pace and go that bit faster. It could be psychological of course.
Once or twice I’ve gone for a run and forgotten my iPod and have found it very difficult to get into a stride. This may be due to the fact that I have become accustomed to running with music of course. It’s the way I started out. I also find if I’m on a treadmill and I don’t have my own music I’m constantly distracted and put in a poor performance. Everyone has their own preference. Me I like to choon!! In fact I’m probably a bit too OCD about my running playlist. For my ’emergency playlist’ I’m probably a bit, no a lot 80’s and 90’s music. It consists of the following below, and I’ve included the videos too at the bottom.
Survivor – Eye of the Tiger from Rocky (video above)
Survivor – Burning Heart from Rocky
Moving Pictures – Never from Footloose
Swedish House Mafia – Don’t You Worry Child (probably gives me a bit of credibility)
Underworld – Born Slippy
Three Drives – Greece 2000