Running, Music and Stride Rate – What’s The Connection?

I absolutely love running while listening to music. I actually like riding my bike with music too although that can be a little bit dangerous so don’t necessarily recommend it as you’re travelling at a lot higher speed and need more awareness of your surroundings.

The downside with the music while running is personal risk of not hearing cars or other vehicles and being a snob to other runners. So just keep it at a sensible volume and make sure you at least wave to runners going the other way.

So, what’s the benefit of running with music? I personally enjoy it for the simple reason of keeping me inspired, motivated and generally entertained when I’m out for an early morning run on my own. My favorite way to listen to music is through wireless bluetooth headphones linked to my cellphone. On my cellphone, I use either Spotify or iHeart Radio. I then love to listen to a good mix of new music and older music (especially from the 80’s!!). My cellphone is waterproof just in case I caught out in wet weather too…

Depending on the songs you listen too, you’ll also find they can lift your focus and motivate you to try a little harder, you just need to be careful on an easy run it doesn’t lift you too much to the point that you end up doing a tempo run!! I find that some songs have a key change towards the end or some pause/break that then lifts into an inspirational section that just lifts you to run better.

More about music and stride rate later in this article, lets talk about stride rate…

Stride Rate
What is stride rate? This is the total number of steps you take in 1 minute and is an interesting indicator that can be used to assess your running economy. When you’re out running next, count the number of steps you take in 30 seconds, multiple it by 2 and that’s your stride rate.

Is there a perfect number of steps to take in 1 minute while running? No is the short answer. Depending on what you’re doing, i.e. easy run, tempo run, sprinting or doing a 5K race, will alter your stride rate up or down. However, there’s a good range. Some studies have shown that around 180 steps per minute for your stride rate is a good medium number to aim for. If you’re well below this number, try and take smaller steps, it’s possible that you’re taking steps that are too big and wasting a lot of energy. If you’re well above this for an easy run, your stride length is likely to be too small and you need to spend some time improving your running economy (through running strength drills, speed and economy reps, hill runs and other strength work).

My suggestion is to aim for 180 for your stride rate for easy runs. If you’ve already got this stride rate, fantastic!!

Music and Your Stride Rate
So, here’s where it gets fun. If your stride rate is a problem or even if it’s not, what about using music to get your stride rate to the right place?

Take a look through some lists I’ve provided some links to here to see what suits you and give it a try on your next run…


Lady Southpaw