Music motivates some runners, distracts others

Sitting on the grass, senior Nathan Essenmacher is making his final adjustments before taking on the five-mile run ahead of him. Laces retied, he slides in his earbuds and spins his iPod until he gets to his running playlist. As the first beats pound into his head, his feet quickly hit the pavement, matching the beat to the rhythm.

“I listen to music sometimes when I don’t want to think about the pain of running,” Essenmacher said. “I can’t listen to Nickelback when I run; I like listening to Eminem because of the aggressive beat.”

According to, research has found that running to the beat of a song can increase athletic performance. When running or working out, our brain tells us we are tired before we actually are. This is to stop ourselves from self-harm.

Listening to music helps the brain push a little harder, motivating athletes so they can keep pushing to perform better and ignore the impulse to quit.

“Running is boring, so music helps to make it fun,” junior Steven Szatkowski said. “It helps me focus more on the running and not pay attention to wanting to stop.”

Not only is music a motivator to keep going through the pain, but it can also block out distractions from the runner’s surrounding.

“Sometimes I cannot stand the noise of everything around me when I am trying to run,” senior Collin Newton said. “I listen to just about everything except rap, but I mostly listen to classic rock.”

It’s common to use music to keep focused.

“I like to listen to music before a race,” senior Andre Rotar said, “because if I’m nervous I listen to something that pumps me up. But if I’m too excited and need to calm myself down, I listen to something that is less exciting.”

Sometimes, however, musical distraction can have negative effects. Rotar said new runners should stay away from music because they won’t listen to their breathing.

Listening to music while running is discouraged by trainers, who say it is only a distraction. Being able to listen to your own footsteps and breathing is a big part of running and performance.

“Listening to music is just something I have never done,” junior Meredith Sorensen said. “I like my peace and quiet when I am running.”

Trainers warn that runners sometimes become dependent on the music motivating them and lose sight of their true motivation.

“Music motivates me to go faster; I run to the beat,” sophomore Jordan Bianchi said. “When I listen to faster beat songs it helps me push farther.”