As the air gets crisp, establishing or ramping up a regular running routine is easier than ever. Without the draining summer heat, most weather-related excuses for not doing so may just melt away. One way to get motivated is to strictly designate a running playlist. To make it exercise exclusive, save these songs for running -- and only running. Not playing them during work or driving will deepen the association between cardio and those particular songs.
Just like signaling your body that it's time for work, music can immediately switch your brain into beast mode. If you're listening to the same music during work or your commute, your brain may very well kick into autopilot rather than getting yourself fired up to run.
According to an article from Scientific American, "music distracts people from pain and fatigue, elevates mood, increases endurance, reduces perceived effort and may even promote metabolic efficiency." Without caffeine or any other performance enhancing drugs, your abilities jump. However, the same article also states that someone's associations with particular songs are more important even than the tempo of the music itself.
Over the past century, more than 100 studies have been performed on the effect of music on athleticism. One of the most consistent findings was the use of music as a pacing mechanism -- its beat can be the driving force to longer and more effective exercise.
However, listening to music while running in a public area does have its downside; blasting music into headphones can overwhelm automobile noise and make you less aware of your surroundings. As well, using music to push the boundaries of your athletic ability can also lead to injury or overexertion.
To be safe, use music like you would any other tool -- carefully and with proper form. If those two guidelines are met, you should be able to reap the benefits without serious consequences. Today, I'm putting together a new running playlist to get pumped up for the next few weeks of scheduled runs.
Have any tips for improving motivation? Leave them in the comments!