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The Science Behind The Music

Young scientist

Here’s something you probably know: at RockMyRun we believe music is the cornerstone between you and a good running workout.  But, you may not know: there’s more to picking the right music for your next run than just a good beat and a catchy tune.  There’s a science behind the madness!

This science is in the form of something called “sonic elements”.

What are sonic elements?

Well, they’re all the good stuff we put into our mixes! It’s the depth of a beat, the highs and lows of a melody and the unique layering of music that our seasoned DJs use to get you ready to rock your next run.

Marc Leman, a Research-Professor in Systematic Musicology,  and his team of experts conducted a study, “Activating and Relaxing Music Entrants” where they proved this science. During their study they had three major findings:

1. BPM alone doesn’t affect your running performance (Gasp!):

When you listen to a beat in the ideal range of 110-130 BPM, your leg stride doesn’t lengthen and your steps don’t become quicker or slower.  Yet, when you start to add sonic elements to this ideal range, there is evidence that your speed and performance improves!

2.  Volume fluctuations and pitch within a piece of music can strengthen or weaken your motivation:

In short, the stronger the beat the higher the intensity of your run and, of course, the weaker the beat, the lower the intensity of your run.

3. Genre plays a key part in choosing the right music:

Like many things in life, we connect with what we know.  Everyone is motivated in their own way and it starts with the type of music we listen to.  If you love heavy beats and strong, motivating words Hip-Hop and Rock & Roll mixes are perfect for you.  If you are a fan of mainstream pop artists, you’ll want to rock your run to techno-based music . And for the laid back Sunday morning runner R&B, Reggae and even Classical will be right up your alley.

Now that you have some insight into choosing the right music here are some of our recommendations for you to have a great run:

When looking for the right tempo for your next workout: 

1) 110 – 139 BPM:  Warm up/Cool down run

2) 140+ BPM: Hill Climbing workout or high tempo workout

3) Variable or below 130 BPM:  Easy run for mileage

Music genres for a specific workout:

1) Classical, R&B or Reggae for a Warm up/Cool down run

2) Hard core Rock & Roll is great for a hill climbing workout.

3) House and Hip-Hop with heavy beats are great for high intensity workouts

Examples of our Best Mixes for a Great Run: 

1) “Saved By The Run” or “Why Don’t We Just Run

for Warm up/ Cool down / Easy run

2) “Full Blast Pt.2”  or “Closer To The Edge

for High Intensity/ Hill Climbing Run

3) “Rock vs. Rap” or “I Run This ISH

for Low Intensity/ High Mileage Run

Post contributed by Nicol Akins.  Nicol is a resident writer for RockMyRun as well as a CPT & Fitness Instructor, Running Coach, Runner and Blogger.  Check out her blog at http://www.seenicrun.com

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