Running Tips

Running and Music: Perfect Rhythm or Wrong Beat?

The discussion on the topic of music while running is as complex as the playlists of runners themselves. On one side stands the undeniable energy that a good melody can conjure into your legs, on the other side the cautionary advice to consciously enjoy the running environment. But what weighs heavier? This article delves deep into the melodic world of running, highlighting the opportunities and potential risks.

The benefits of music while running

Music has the power to elevate our running training to a new level. It not only positively affects our motivation but also has the potential to enhance physical performance. Studies show that music, especially those with a suitable beat, can help in finding and maintaining a consistent cadence. This is particularly advantageous for runners who want to improve their running efficiency. The right beats can act like a metronome, helping to maintain the rhythm and optimize stride frequency. Below, you’ll find a description of how to assemble the optimal playlist for your desired cadence.

In addition to the technical aspect, music also provides psychological support. It can carry us through the toughest kilometers by reducing the perception of effort and allowing us to distance ourselves from physical discomfort. A carefully selected playlist can thus be a powerful tool to improve running performance and make training more varied and enjoyable.

Disadvantages and concerns of running with music

The debate about listening to music while running is fueled by a mixture of safety concerns and philosophical reflections on the “purity” of running. On one hand, there are the risks associated with distraction from music, especially in urban areas where awareness of traffic and other hazards is crucial. Music can significantly reduce the runner’s ability to pay attention to their surroundings and react to unforeseen events.

On the other hand, there is a deep conviction that running in its most essential form establishes a connection between body and mind, a kind of meditative state that can be disrupted by external stimuli like music. This purist view argues that running offers an opportunity for self-reflection and immersion in the natural environment, an opportunity lost when ears are covered with headphones.

In summary, these disadvantages and the controversial nature of listening to music while running combine concern for physical safety with a longing for an unadulterated, introspective running experience.

Listening to music at official running events

At official running events, we recommend not using headphones. The main reason? They impair your alertness. The music may be a faithful companion, but it can distract your attention from important environmental sounds, instructions from course marshals and the movement around you. Safety first – it’s essential to be able to react quickly to cues and potential hazards.

But don’t worry, you don’t have to do without the motivational boost of music. Many event organizers provide musical highlights along the route and enthusiastic spectators to create a rousing atmosphere that will inspire you.

General safety tips for wearing headphones

  • Keep one ear free: Only wear headphones in one ear to be able to hear the surrounding noise better.
  • Reduce volume: Adjust the volume so you can still hear warning signals and traffic noise.
  • Use bone conduction: Consider using bone conduction headphones that leave the ear free and do not block surrounding noises.
  • Turn off noise-cancelling: Turn off the noise-cancelling function of your headphones to better perceive important sounds from your environment, such as approaching vehicles or warning signals.

How to create your playlist

Here are some steps and tips on how to find the music that sets the perfect rhythm to your running stride:

Step 1: Determine your ideal cadence

The optimal cadence, i.e., the number of steps per minute (SPM), varies from runner to runner but often falls between 160 and 180 steps per minute for most experienced runners. A good starting point is to measure your current cadence during a comfortable run. Many running watches and apps can provide this information in real-time.

Step 2: Look for music with the appropriate BPM

Once you know your ideal cadence, look for music whose beats per minute (BPM) match that cadence. There are websites and apps specifically designed for runners to categorize music by BPM. Some music streaming services even offer special playlists for running sorted by BPM.

Step 3: Experiment with different genres

Not every song with the right BPM will be suitable for every run. Different music genres can have different effects on your motivation and running experience. Experiment with different genres and styles to find out what drives you the most.

Step 4: Consider the mood of the music

In addition to the beat, the mood of the music can also have a significant impact on your running performance. Optimistic and energetic tracks can be particularly beneficial in challenging phases of the run. Choose songs that emotionally resonate with you and make you feel like you can achieve anything.

Step 5: Create a personalized playlist

Once you’ve selected a range of songs that match your ideal cadence and your tastes, create a personalized playlist. Make sure to structure the list to match your running duration or desired training. You can start with warming up to slower beats and transition to faster, more motivating tracks as you approach your peak performance.


Music while running remains a topic where individual preferences prevail. The benefits, especially in terms of motivation and achieving a specific cadence, are undeniable. However, the risks, especially in terms of safety and potential dependence, should not be ignored. A conscious approach to music that respects both your own needs and the environment seems to be the key to a harmonious connection between running and music. The decision to integrate music into running training or not remains a highly personal matter.


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