I've become much more of a music-listening exerciser this past year than I ever had been before. I'm sure some of it has to do with the size and shape of the object I have to carry to listen to music. Back when it was a bulky cassette-playing walkman or even a discman, I frequently took it out and held it by the wrist strap. Mostly back in those days I had teammates to run with, and conversation or heavy breathing usually filled the air space.
These days, carrying the iphone for safety anyway, it's just too convenient not to listen to music. Plus the husband always does. Always. I never listen to it in races, whether legal or not, since I have the tendency to get annoyed with certain songs while exercising. Either they're too slow, or just don't evoke quite the right mood for my effort level. Inevitably, I'll get something like, "Feels like you're dying, you're dying," in the middle of an interval. Thanks, Kings of Leon. You're right.
Having taught 8 or so years of spin class, I know music is important. The selection of the music to go on my CDs, especially when I first started teaching, was a major source of stress for me. I wanted to make sure everyone not only liked the songs I was playing, but was motivated by them to work hard. I relaxed about this after a few years, realizing that you can only please 80% of the people 20% of the time...or whatever that saying is.
As it turns out, the speed of the song is a real motivator, according to some new research done on cyclists. Participants' heart rates increased as the song tempo increased, and while the perceived exertion also increased, it seemed to motivate them to work harder. Distraction plus motivation.
One study showed that once runners hit about 90% effort, they were unable to increase pace anymore even with the upbeat music. Apparently it's not all mental. But lots of them enjoyed the music anyway. I find that at this level is probably where I get most annoyed with songs that aren't perfect for the moment.
So runners, cyclists, and Jeremy who even swims with a swimP3, how does that music effect you?