Running to the Beat

Running the Bavarian Alps Foothills - July 2017

We’ve all been there: you’ve stretched, your running shoes are on, you’ve lined up the playlist that will help you more fully enjoy your workout, then…your headphones are nowhere to be found.

A wave of disappointment washes over you. You’re left with two frustrating choices: the poorly sized set that came free with your phone and you’re pretty sure you stuffed in the junk drawer (your rhythm disrupted as you push one tinny-sounding headphone back in your sweaty ear), or the simple sound of your breathing in your ears and your footfalls on the road.

Purists might love the latter. Sometimes you need more.

Whether you’re a hip-hop fan or a classical music buff, a custom soundtrack is your own secret weapon when it comes to running. Whether your poison is Raekwon or Rachmaninoff, science knows: music makes you run faster and for longer.

A 2015 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that “music was able to activate the pre-frontal cortex area, minimize perceptions, improve performance and accelerate recovery during 5 km of running.”

Runners averaged 27:33 when running in silence; 26:00 when listening to slow motivational music; and 26:06 when listening to music with a fast beat. They all got out of the gates faster with music playing, with the first 800 meters particularly impacted.

As Dr. Costas Karageorghis of Brunel University in London, a leading expert on the psychology of exercise music, has written, music can be thought of as an “a type of legal performance-enhancing drug.” (Dope tunes? Yes please.)

However good your playlist though, it’s only as good as the headphones you play it through. Tiny sounding and poorly fitted headphones can impact your performance as badly as the wrong running shoes.

At Plantronics we think we’ve nailed it with Plantronics BackBeat FIT and our BackBeat FIT 300 Series and BackBeat FIT 500 SeriesPlantronics BackBeat FIT is specifically designed for a high-motion outdoor workout, such as running, while BackBeat FIT 300 and 500 are more indoor gym companions. Sweat-proof and with a battery life of up to eight hours, these are a perfect companion to your training, whether you’re braving the elements digging in for that ultramarathon or lifting and working your core at the gym.

They’re all very comfortable, completely wireless and lightweight and durable owing to their nano-coat. The added functionality of easy to access on-ear controls means no more interruptions to dig out your phone when that playlist goes awry.

So, headphones sorted: what about the tunes? I’m currently training for my 25th marathon next April in Santiago de Chile and this is what fires my runs right now. What are your top tracks?