Did you ever enjoy marching to the music of a marching band? Do you like dancing to great rock or hip hop? Do you find it fun to run to music? If you answered "yes" to any of the above, you will find music-paced running hard to beat.
So what is music-paced running? It is running to the exact tempo (beat) of tunes on your portable music player. Many people enjoy running to music but are frustrated when the tempos of their favorite songs do not match their running cadence. But when their pace coincidentally matches the tempo, they find it fun, exhilarating, and motivating.
Research has also confirmed the benefits of exercising to upbeat music. In a study by Porcai and colleagues, presented at the annual meeting of the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, healthy volunteers listened to music of various tempos while they worked out on stationary bicycles. The researchers found that the cyclists' pedaling speed increased as the music tempo increased. Their heart rates and power outputs also varied (Porcai, J. "Effects of Music Tempo on Spontaneous Cycling Performance", Meeting of the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, Kansas City, Usa/Missouri, October 16-19, 2003)
Len Kravitz, PhD, an Associate Professor of Exercise Science at the University of New Mexico, in an article on the university's website, cited a survey of 70 college students enrolled in an aerobic dance class. (Gfeller, K. - 1988 - Musical components and styles preferred by young adults for aerobic fitness activities. Journal of Music Therapy, 25, 28-43). In his summary he states, "97% of the students felt (perceived influence) that the music affected their performance during aerobic activity. Respondents identified the following factors that influenced their aerobic performance: music style (97%), rhythm/beat (94%), tempo (96%), lyrics (77%), volume (66%), mood (37%), and melody (17%). The results of this study support previous research that indicates that music benefits students from a motivational standpoint" (Nelson, D. O., & Finch, L. W. - 1963 - Effects of audio-analgesia on gross motor performance involving acute fatigue. Research Quarterly, 33, 588-592).
Although many runners, both casual and serious, have discovered the fun of matching a song's tempo to their running pace, few have found the time or the wherewithal to create their own playlists of "runnable" tunes. If you surf the blogosphere and Internet forums you will find numerous entries by runners about the fun of running while listening to their favorite music. Many Internet writers post playlists of their favorite running music. And while they admit that it is fun to run to the exact tempo of upbeat songs, only a few people have taken the time to find songs that match their running cadence. They complain that it is too much trouble to calculate beats-per-minute (BPM) and to find songs in the right BPM range for running.
Several websites have come to the rescue by posting the BPMs of tunes that are in the right cadence range for warming up, running, and cooling down. Some sites provide CDs that are published as compilations of cover tunes. Other sites sell original songs and DJ mixes that can be downloaded off the web. Still others are listings of tunes and playlists with links to on-line music resources.
It is no surprise that Apple Computer, Inc. is getting serious about music-paced running. They have partnered with Nike to form Nike+iPod and to market the Nike+iPod Sport Kit. A sensor in the Nikeplus running shoes tells the runner, via an iPod Nano, how far he/she has run and how fast. All of the data can be synched, stored, and displayed on the iPod and the nikeplus.com website. They also have posted "Nike Sport Music" on the iTunes Music Store. While not specifically selected for music-paced running, the playlists are designed to motivate the runner. And there is more. Apple has applied for a patent for an iPod program that will vary the tempo of iTunes songs to match the runner's cadence. It will also allow the runner to select a song with a tempo that already fits her or his pace.
While matching cadence to tempo may be the new dimension in running, music-paced running may not be for everyone. But for people who need more motivation and for those who want more fun when they run, it may be a perfect match.
Run The Planet thanks author Bob Marcus for contributing with this article. Bob Marcus is a retired physician and a recreational runner who enjoys running to music. He noted that when music matches his pace, running is more fun and he is more motivated to run. This led to the development of his website jogtunes.com. He blogs at musicpacedrunnning. The image used to illustrate this article is an actual running shoe - realized by DaDa Footwear (www.dadafootwear.com) - that stores up to 100 songs and delivers music to a wireless headset.