Running with music helps athletic performance

In a recent study (detailed in a BBC news article ‘How music can aid athletic performance‘), it was shown that running with the right music could improve running performance by 15%. Well, I need all the help I can get.

With this in mind, I decided that it was about time I stopped listening to the Runner’s World Rock ‘n’ Run playlist and try and find some music to match my cadence. Or find some music with the right BPM to increase my cadence.

Although I’ve not got lots of tracks in my iTunes library, I thought they were a good place to start and I tried a couple of Desktop applications; Cadence and Powerade Pulse which allow you to analyse your existing library and then attach the BPM for each track.

Powerade Pulse simply didn’t work for me at all! Sat forever and a day trying to check my iTunes library. FAIL!

Cadence was much better. It analyses your iTunes library and then gives each track a BPM metric. It then creates playlists for each BPM range. Great! The bad news is that very few of the tracks I have in my iTunes library have a suitable BPM for running. D’oh!

As well as the desktop application (for both Mac and PC), there’s an iPhone app, Cadence app. This looks interesting but currently it doesn’t support multi-tasking. That means that I can’t use it running in the background whilst I track my run with Runkeeper. Humph! I’ve spoken with the developers and this should be sorted soon. However, my poor iTunes library is the issue here. Also, the app allows you to specify a small BPM range and therefore doesn’t really support interval training where intervals have different intensities (BPMs).

A few months back, I came across Audio Fuel. This is a UK based company that produce music compilations to match different intensities and training workouts. I decided to give them a try. As I’ve been wanting to run faster, I chose the Excelerator compilation and bought that.

Having paid, downloaded the MP3, added to my iTunes library and then created a playlist and sync’d my iPhone with iTunes, I was almost ready.

With Runkeeper set up to use the new playlist, I went out for a run.

The cadence was high as the BPM was between 165 and 170 bpm. I did struggle to keep up with that cadence as is evident in my Runkeeper stats.

Having been happy that the AudioFuel compilation could indeed help me run quicker, I decided to purchase another compilation; 2 in fact. One type of session I’ve neglected is interval training. Having browsed the AudioFuel site, I decided that the best option was the Mid intensity 180 bpm pyramid interval compilation. Having found the first compilation purchase to be very good, I decided to make use of the special offer to get the mid intensity compilation and the high intensity compilation too.

What I liked about the compilation most was the coaching. Throughout the activity, encouraging announcements were made of how what interval is coming next, how long it is and how much rest you’ll get after it til the next interval. Although the compilations are pretty short; 22 or 23 minutes, the intensity of them makes for a great workout.

I couldn’t really tell you much about the music as I was lost in the moment. Having said that, I wasn’t really thinking about the running either. The whole thing acted as a great distraction to the workout I was undertaking!

One thing I do plan to do is set up a training workout programme in Runkeeper to match the intervals from the Audio Fuel compilation so that I can see how my performance differs in each interval.

Overall, I’m really pleased with the AudioFuel compilations.

As regular readers will know, I love Runkeeper. I’d love for them and AudioFuel to collaborate. It would be great if when creating a training workout, you can associate each intensity with a playlist and for that playlist to contain tracks which match a particular BPM range. For example, for ‘slow’, I’d want tracks from the AudioFuel 150 – 160bpm playlist, for ‘steady’, I’d want tracks from the AudioFuel 160 – 170bpm playlist and for ‘fast’, I’d want tracks from the AudioFuel 170-190bpm playlist. Runkeeper would then randomly chose tracks that match the required BPM range and the interval duration.

Maybe Runkeeper and AudioFuel should talk! 🙂

If you’re a UK user of Runkeeper, you can get 20% discount from AudioFuel’s store by using the voucher code, runkeeper20. Thanks to AudioFuel for sharing that.

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