Potential Benefits of Running With Music
I'm not generally a fan of running with music. Running with podcasts is my go-to since it allows me to keep my pace totally separate from what I'm listening to while still keeping me engaged with something else (if you are looking for a recommendation for a podcast to try while running, I can't suggest Hardcore History strongly enough). Occasionally though, I will feel compelled to crank some tunes to get motivated for my runs and I've been doing so more lately as I feel steadier with my pace.
Music makes my runs different than podcasts, for sure, so I was dubiously intrigued by this Daily Mail article that made claims about certain music boosting athletic performance. The general idea of the article is that steadier, uptempo beats with edgy to controversial lyrics help with exercise, particularly when there is an emotional response. Now, the study is designed abysmally, only looking at one guy doing one activity so the results couldn't be further from being empirical, plus you maybe shouldn't be getting scientific advice from the Daily Mail.
Anecdotally, I can corroborate some of this though. Of course, for repetitive activities like swimming, running, cycling, or what have you, having music that keeps or pushes your pace can help you stay regulated and in the tempo you're looking for if you curate your playlist fairly carefully. That much is obvious. What stuck out to me was the bit about "emotional resonance."
I've seen several studies that claim to show that brains emit positive chemicals - like dopamine or oxytocin or something like that - in response to musical stimuli and that makes sense to me. There are always those parts of certain songs that give me chills even just thinking about them, so it also makes sense to me that the same process affects your physiology in a heightened way during exercise. I've had this happen as well, whether it's a great bridge in a song by The Dear Hunter or a heavy breakdown from Protest The Hero that locks in with my pace, I get that spine-chilled feeling and for a few seconds, my body is almost euphorically numb, especially if I'm getting up into some distance. So again, none of this is scientific, but the anecdotal evidence lines up and seems logical.
It isn't isolated to music though. Part of the reason I've listened to Blueprint For Armageddon, the Hardcore History series on World War I, three times is that there's a feeling that the running I'm doing is no where near as bad as being on the Somme or fighting through Verdun. Plus, hearing some of the personal accounts that have such an emotional quality gives me that same chilled feeling that pulls me out of my body for a few seconds.
Everyone's brains and bodies work a little differently, but I can imagine this being a reasonably broad phenomenon, so see if you can find whatever it is that gives you that same boost!