Last May I ran the Elk Beaver 100K, a flat 10x10K loop around beautiful Elk and Beaver lakes in Victoria, BC. During that race I had considered myself fortunate to be running with a fast and very chatty runner/friend for the first 50K. But unfortunately for the remaining half of the race, I found myself hurting and alone with my thoughts…not a good place to be. My plan was to have a playlist of 185 bpm music to push my pace and keep my stride short and linear in the event I were to need my Inner Drummer. I'm proud to say, I finished that race in fairly consistent splits and with the fifth fastest 100K time ran in North America in 2013 (7:51)…sweet!
There is plenty of research that indicates synchronization of a person's stride to the beat of music helps reduce the perceived effort and makes a runner run harder. Running at 180 bpm seems to be the universally accepted rate for an efficient stride pattern with less strain to the body's tissues. It's my belief that, especially when fatigued, the typical runner will start to over stride. In recent years there has been many studies indicating the majority of runners are greatly over striding. Thus, music that promotes a shorter, more bio mechanical proper stride, that when all one needs to do is dance to the beat, is advantageous whether training or racing. Running with a bpm playlist is most effective on flatter or rolling terrain. Running on mountainous terrain while doing this proves to be very difficult even though pushing a 180 bpm while climbing presents a solid challenge, yet running the descent at a 180 bpm would force an over stride and put undue forces on knees and hips. On most courses that are flatter, running at 180 bpm or greater creates more efficient speed and less injury to the joints and soft tissues associated with running.
Research done by Runners World shows that 65% of runners like listening to music while a Nike study indicated a slightly higher percentage. So even if the majority enjoy listening to music, music itself is very subjective. Personally, I prefer the lengthier method of obtaining a playlist by using an app called the cadence bpm tapper. This allows you to manually find the exact bpm's to all of your existing music library, one song at a time, letting you customize your own bpm playlist.
A couple other great and ready to use playlists are:
PODRUNNER: A number of free podcasts set to a techno/trance rhythm that can gradually increase your cadence or push the pace on your next speed session. Best part...did I mention its free!
AUDIO FUEL: These playlists add variety to your run/pyramidization. With or without coaching instruction in the background, these dance tunes will have you pushing your cadence on your next run.
Just to mention a few songs that are on my playlist:
One - U2 183bpm
Everyday People - Arrested Development 183bpm
Love Is A Battlefield - Pat Benatar 184bpm
Gold Digger - Kanye West ft Jamie Foxx 185bpm
Muckin' Slushers - Stompin Tom Connors 185bpm
The Lovecats - The Cure 185bpm
Santeria - Sublime 185bpm
Ain't nothing like the real thing baby - Marvin Gaye 186bpm
Jamboree - Naughty By Nature 187bpm