Friday Finds – 4th March

Friday Finds is a regular feature in which I collate and share interesting articles and posts on running/health/fitness which I’ve read recently. Some might be inspiring, some might be scientific, some might provoke debate. All are things I’ve found in some way thought-provoking.

Recently, I have made a tentative return to running. Not only has this meant re-learning about the kit I need at this time of year, it’s also been an opportunity to revisit my running playlist and add one or two new songs I’ve come across. I tend to revamp my playlist periodically so as not to get bored with any of the songs, but this time I found that hearing my playlist again after a lengthy time-out was like re-connecting with old friends. I could feel the same determination, the same urge to run faster, the same motivation that inspired me to add these songs in the first place. Running and music is a topic I’ve been thinking of returning to, so this seems like an ideal opportunity to share some music-related finds. That’s right, this week’s Friday Finds is the music edition…

Of course, running with music has always been a hotly debated issue. On the one hand, many people find it a great motivator, but on the other hand, being distracted from your surroundings may pose a risk. When I started running I just couldn’t go without my iPod, whereas these days I’m not quite so dependent on music to keep going. That said, I do enjoy the motivational power of a hand-picked playlist (set to shuffle so every new track is a ‘surprise’), but tend to only put one earphone in and keep the volume down so I can still hear everything around me. Music conjures memories, and my playlist is designed to conjure positive ones that help me to grit my teeth and push on when the going gets tough. And I know I”m not alone. Whilst researching articles for this post, I came across a piece published in The Guardian a few years ago. It may not have been published this week, but the arguments are as valid today as they were then:

And it’s not just mere mortals who enjoy listening to music when working out. If there’s one thing the 2012 Olympics taught us, it was the value of motivational music to the elite stars as we saw a veritable parade of athletes wearing headphones to listen to their favourite songs to get them pumped up before an event. One of those stars was that great favourite of mine, Jessica Ennis-Hill, and recently the BBC filmed a programme with her discussing her favourite music to train to. Here, she shares the song she was listening to before the final event of her heptathlon and the way it will always evoke memories of that moment:

So what makes an ideal running playlist, and what are the potential benefits of running with music? There has been plenty of research conducted into this very topic, and this article from Runners Connect is fairly useful in collating some of the evidence into the effects of music on athletic performance.

Also investigating this topic recently was the team at The Running Awards. While summarising some of the positives to running with music, I like that this article also reminds us that sometimes it’s good to simply listen to the world around us and leave the iPod at home – something I really should do more often.

And finally, if you’re looking too update your running playlist, a good starting point might be to check out the list created by streaming service Spotify. Having looked at the data from their running feature, Spotify created a list of the songs streamed the most by runners in 2015. And the most interesting thing? It seems that, to paraphrase BeyoncĂ©, girls really do run the world as many of the top tracks were by female vocalists. Go girls!

Happy reading,
The Running Princess

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