With the fall marathon season in full swing, thousands of runners are gearing up for the big day. Just as important as their broken-in shoes and heart rate monitor is their source of motivation, inspiration and distraction: their tunes.
Running with music has become so common that the two biggest names in both industries, Nike and Apple, have been joined at the hip with the Nike + iPod combination. So, what is it about music and running, or any exercise, that feels so right?
Several recent studies try to chase down the connection between our ears and our feet.
For the last 20 years, Costas Karageorghis, a sports psychologist at Britain’s Brunel University, has been setting the research pace for understanding our need to groove and move.
In addition to his lab research, Karageorghis has helped create a half marathon in London that tries to find the perfect music mix of live bands based on his research of human reaction to rhythm. The second annual “Run to the Beat” event was held a few weeks ago with 9,000 laboratory rats, er, runners either enjoying the live music or listening to their own mix of tunes on their MP3. Karageorghis even offered a scientific selection of songs based on his findings.
According to Kargeorghis, there are four factors that contribute to a song’s motivational qualities: rhythm response, musicality, cultural impact and association.