Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Music To My Ears

What do you listen to while you're running? I've discovered, through trial and error, that the ideal beat of the music I'm listening to while I run is about 180 beats per minute. That's the beat where I can run most easily. If it's faster, I can't keep up and get tired more quickly; and if it's slower, I feel like I'm trudging along which takes more effort too.

I haven't found a great way to actually FIND the music with the right tempo for me - in other words, a way to search for songs with 180 beats per minute. So I've come up with the next best method to build my running playlist. First, as I'm listening to the radio or a CD or even when I hear a song in a movie or on TV, I whip out my stopwatch on my iPhone and clock the time it takes for 16 beats of the music. For my desired tempo, if it takes 5.2 seconds to 5.5 seconds to hear 16 beats, then the song qualifies to be on my playlist. The next step is to identify the song (if you don't already know the name of it) and for that I use the miraculous, free iPhone app called Shazam. The app returns the name of the song and then I can purchase it on iTunes and add it to my running playlist.

Now all that is great if you like the same tempo I do. But if you find that a slower or faster tempo is easier for you to run with, you need to figure out your ideal tempo/pace. Find a song you like to run to and use a stopwatch to see how many seconds elapse during 16 beats of your song. Now here's a little math, but don't let it scare you off:

16beats X 60seconds/minute = 960beats/minute
Now take 960 and divide by the number of seconds you got with your song.
This will be the number of beats per minute that you like to run to (your preferred tempo).

Now to keep you running at a fairly steady pace, you'll want to find more songs with a similar tempo to add to your playlist. So what DO you run to? Add your favorite songs to the comments.

Happy Running!

Addendum: check out http://bit.ly/2VYPc for pace-specific music! Thanks John at Hella Sound!


John at Hella Sound said...

I love that you know what your running cadence is. When I started Hella Sound Running Music, I assumed everyone did. Unfortunately, they don't--I think you and I are the rare exception.

180BPM is what a lot of trainers and experts consider to be the optimal cadence. It's the average of what most elite marathoners run at. Kudos to you! (I'm at 170BPM now, bumping it up to 175BPM for 5ks and shorter races).

I'd invite you to come check out our music--we offer a range of speeds to accomodate different cadences: http://www.hellasound.com/music/songs.
In addition, the New York Times had a great article about how to find music to run to: http://bit.ly/HS-NYT. Finally, JogTunes also offers a catalog of music, organized by BPM just for runners. Very handy.

Diane said...

Thanks for the comment and for the info! But I don't really think the cadence is elite-based as much as just what feels best. I'll check out all the links you provided. Thanks again!

Eric Selvig said...

I swore off music when running. After running one race with my iPod, I realized how much I missed. Even now when training I don't use one. It gives me time to mediate and experience all that's around me.

Wazzup said...

I download my music from fitmusic.com They even mention the bpm of the songs so you can look for a good workout track.

Personally I ca run on anything. Pop, rock, metal, blues, rap, and even techno. Allthough slayer tends to be more suited for the more intense runs :-)

Paul said...

I built this playlist for my first 5k (starting in 1 hour, omg)

Falling away from me - Korn
Supernova goes pop - Powerman 5000
Awaken - Dethklok
Dragula - Rob Zombie
Of wolf and man - metallica
Animals - Nickleback
The hand that feeds - Nine inch nails
Fuel - Metallica
Panama - Van Halen
Running down a Dream - Tom Petty
Survivalism - Nine inch nails
Dare - Gorillaz
Sleep Isabella - Abney Park
Head like a hole - Nine inch Nails
Best of You - Foo Fighters

Brian, the old man said...

Hi Diane, I really enjoyed reading your blog. I like your suggestion about the music to listen to. I walk because I have not build up my strength to run but I will use your suggestion and try to find music which has a good beat for walking. Two years ago, I was bed ridden. In February I almost died. Today I am able to go walking around my neighborhood for short distances and I have lost over 80 pounds. I continue to strive to reach my goals to a happier and healthier lifestyle. You can find my blog on health and fitness at http://oldmanblurtsout.today.com/ I am one of your followers on Twitter and I started following this blog today. I would love for you to include my blog on your blogroll if you like the content. Please drop by and take a look. You can click here to follow the link to My journey to a happier and healthier lifestyle. Should you decide to include it I will include yours on my blogroll as well. Just let me know. I know you are looking for running blogs so I will understand if you choose not to do so. The choice is yours. In the meantime, I look forward to reading more of your articles. Have a nice day!

Lady Southpaw said...

Diane, this is fantastic!
You really hit the nail on the head.
I write music with this exact idea in mind. I encourage you to check out my music and blog for more info. I'm working on more stuff at 180 bpm because as has been already discussed if there's a universal cadence it's that one.
Here's an entry with 180-ish playlist:

Anonymous said...

If you have an Iphone/Ipod you can listen to PODRUNNER ;) I love it... spread the word...


have fun!

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