Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Motivation by Music Association

It drives me crazy to read articles that talk about how if you listen to music when you run, you aren’t a “real runner”. I say, do what works for you and if you’re running, you’re a runner, no matter how you get it done.

I have done it both ways and although I agree I am much more in tune with my breathing and concentrating on my form when I don’t have the tunes on, it simply isn’t as much fun, and therefore it’s harder. Simply listening to music you like can help significantly by making it more fun but I have learned that music can also really motivate. I stumbled on this last winter when trying to create a 6+ hour long playlist for training. I realized that music helps but music that means something helps even more. This is how I discovered motivation by music association –

“All the Right Moves” by One Republic from a few years ago. Pretty good song, but my local radio station played it to death and I got really sick of it (this happens to me a lot). Then, the Australian Open did a 2 minute slideshow of *sigh* Roger Federer with that song playing the background. Guess what? Now, every time I hear the song I think of him (which is motivating already) and the beautiful frames of him hitting a glorious forehand in slo-mo. It is now a staple on my playlist and makes me smile (and kick it up a notch) every time I hear it.

Lately I just did it again. I made a slideshow for my Athens marathon pictures to Usher’s “More”, which is an awesome running song already but now when I hear it, I see the smile on my face coming in to that incredible marble Olympic stadium and remember the feeling I had at that moment and I get really pumped up. I actually caught myself running faster than my planned race pace on my “slow” long run this weekend. In hindsight, I should have picked another song because this song would have gotten me going even without the association!

Over the next couple of months leading up to the race, I’m going to find some more some songs to associate with motivating things and place them strategically in my playlist to kick me in the butt on May 29th when I think I’ll really be needing it. I’m going to have to get the audio from Allie’s “Go, go, Auntie Mo” video from last fall in my playlist somehow…


  1. Are these the same people who say that accepting pain medication during childbirth isn't "real" childbirth? If the experience has to be as unpleasant as possible in order to be real, then I'd suggest "real" runners should also run in suits of armor. Oh, and shouldn't allow themselves to visualize success along the way - that can help make it easier too. Oh, and shouldn't have supporters to cheer them on, and... and...

  2. I absolutely agree! I don't think I could train without music. However, I do find that when it comes to race day I tend to turn my music way down since it's a pretty cool feeling to hear all the cheating and feeling like your part of something big. But on those lonely stretches I would have gone insane without my music!

  3. That was meant to say cheering!!