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The Science behind Run to the Beat

As you know, City Showcase plays an important part in Run to the Beat.

We work with the organisers of London's First Half Marathon run to music to schedule the music. 

The course begins at the O2 with around 17,000 runners signed up and there will be City Showcase music stages around the course alongside recorded music (council licensing restrictions mean that live music can't be played throughout).  As everyone knows, music can really help runners - it helps you keep pace, keep positive and keep going - the magic of music! 

Scientists love the subject and Dr Costas Karageorghis has been researching the "science" for several years now and is a consultant to the organisers. 

The spiel says that as well as being London's first half marathon, the second unique aspect of the event is that it will work with Dr Karageorghis to position live music scientifically throughout the course to inspire the thousands of runners taking part. The run will deliver motivational live music at strategic points along the route. The event will be hugely inspiring for competitors and spectators alike.

Everyone wants to be an A&R, don't they!  Actually, unusually, Dr Karageorghis doesn't!  He is more interested in science.  This has become quite a popular subject with journos and scientists all talking about the influences of music on sport and Dr Karageorghis has been researching how BPM (Beats Per Minute) can most benefit a runner at various parts of a race.

Here are some of his thoughts:

  1. During sub-maximal running, music can narrow attention and, as a consequence, divert your mind from sensations of fatigue. This lowers your perception of effort and is a technique known as dissociation. This phenomenon can promote more positive mood through encouraging you to avoid thoughts that relate to the physical symptoms of fatigue. Also, music increases positive aspects of mood such as vigour and happiness but reduces negative aspects such as tension and depression.
  2. Music alters emotional and physiological arousal and can therefore be applied as a type of stimulant or sedative prior to competition to ease your nerves and curb your anxiety. In such instances, the music is used before running to help you achieve the right mindset. Some athletes use very upbeat music to psych-up while others use slow-tempo music to psych-down. Music is considered by some athletes as a "legal drug" with the added advantage of no unwanted side effects!
  3. Numerous studies have shown that the synchronisation of music with repetitive exercise results in increased levels of work output. This applies to activities such as rowing, cycling and cross-country skiing as well as running. Musical tempo can regulate movement and reduce the energy expenditure or "oxygen uptake" required during running. Recent research shows that during moderate intensity exercise synchronous music can help to reduce energy expenditure by 6%.
  4. The rhythmical qualities of music emulate the pattern of some physical skills. Therefore, music can enhance the acquisition of motor skills and create a better learning environment. Essentially, the performance of running drills can be improved by the presence of background music while, during a long run, music can enhance your technique and make you a more efficient athlete.


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