Recently, a friend invited me to a headphone party in the Bay Area. It was a bit of a drive just for a party and the results were surreal.
If you do not know what one is, it is where each partygoer brings their own music and plays it on their headphones or alternatively, the venue will provide you with the gear so you can hear their DJs. Wear them and it’s a massive, fun, gig, but take them off and it’s silent.
For my friend it was a new and amazing experience, for me, it reminded me of running in the park where each of us runners was in our own headspace, listening to our own motivational music.
Does Music Really Help You Run?
Scientific research has gone into testing whether playing music really helps runners and cyclists. The results suggest an initial boost and a boost toward the end of a run, but mostly for us amateurs. Music helps get professionals in the mood, but the run itself is all in their head.
The music you play depends on you as an individual and where you are running and how long for. A quick run around a park like Prospect Park or Redlands Dog Park will require different music compared to a long run through Big Bear and the San Bernardino National Forest.
What About Equipment?
Gear and wires will naturally cause problems, either weighing you down or getting in the way of smooth movements. Most runners strap music players to their arms these days with headphones to keep the music private.
Recently I tried out using a smartwatch to play my Spotify playlists. It worked well, the music kept playing and there was a smooth connection to my headphones, which meant I did not have to strap anything else to my arm - the watch kept my time while also playing my music.
Whatever equipment you use, you can create separate playlists for pre-runs, during runs, and post-runs.
Here’s my tips for what to use during each stage of your run:
Pre-Run Music: The aim of the warm up list is to get you in the mood. So you want music which builds up and inspires you, but does not have the rhythm of the run itself.
Mine start quiet and chilled - mostly so I can still hear the traffic on my walk to the park, but build. I’ve timed the walk to Prospect Park, so it hits the right, inspirational spot as I get ready to start.
Best Music While Running: This music needs to get you into the right running rhythm. Now it can depend on flat vs. hilly or whether you want to go fast or slow and steady, or indeed if you know you are going to be changing pace to simulate a sprint finish at the end.
Anyway, find the rhythm and genre which work for you. For me it can be Daft Punk for example, but my husband runs to Metallica.
Post-Run Wind Down Music: If you are like me, you walk after a run to wind down and usually take a different route. This music is your wind down, chill music, something to make you feel good and smile as you head home.
Don’t forget, no matter where you run in Redlands, if you are using music to motivate you, keep safe. Just as with cyclists, running in places with traffic while listening to loud music denies you one of your key senses for knowing what is around you.
Be extra vigilant if you want to run around the block rather than keep to an off-road trail.