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Training & advice

Music for the long run

The long run is one of the key components of any runner's training programme. It is usually scheduled in once a week or once per fortnight and varies in length depending on the runner's target race distance. If you are training for a marathon your long run may eventually be around 20 miles whereas if you are training for a 10km it could be 8 miles or maybe less. Some runners look forward to the long run as it can be a chance to run at a relaxed pace, often with company and on an inspiring route.

However, others don't relish the idea of putting one foot in front of the other for a longer time than usual. The time can seem to pass more slowly, the legs become fatigued, you keep looking at your watch and wishing the time away and look forward to reaching that gate where you can have a rest whilst you unfasten it and then fasten it again and you curse the walkers who have seen you coming and helpfully hold it open for you so that you don’t have to stop! If this is you then perhaps you need a few strategies or support for the long run.

Music for the long run

Facilitated by MP3 technology, an increasing number of people listen to music  when they run – 75% according to a recent survey. Academic research confirms that listening to music can lower perception of effort, increase motivation and enhance performance. MP3 players and ipods store thousands of tracks so your playlist doesn’t need to be monotonous. The tracks for your long run will probably need to be around 145 – 150 bpm. To find your pace you should run at your normal long run pace for a minute and count the number of steps that you take. The bpm should match this number. Here are a few tracks that will keep your legs turning, your blood pumping and your mind singing:





Amy Winehouse


Oliver’s Army

Elvis Costello


Canary in a Coalmine

The Police


Cool for Cats



De Do Do Do De Da Da Da

The Police


My Sherona

The Knack


Enola Gay



Mr. Brightside

The Killers


I get around

The Beachboys


Born to Run

Bruce Springsteen


Modern Way

Kaiser Chiefs



How do you eat an elephant? Answer – in small chunks and his is how you could approach your long run. By ‘chunking’ it into smaller sections you will find it easier to stay positive.  It may be that you visualise the first section on the roads and put the canal section, for example, out of you mind. Once the road section is done and you are onto the canal you can then think about this an ignore the climb through the woods that comes next. You may even decide to include a walking break after each section to really break it up. Your long run is your long run and as long as you are out for the mileage or time planned you can break it up to make it easier to manage.

Learn your pace

Running to music can help you to do this as you will put one foot in front of the other to match the tracks that you have chosen to go with your pace but you may want to structure your play list so that you start more slowly on your run and build the pace gradually.

Choose your lyrics

Although the beat of the music is important in establishing your pace the lyrics can make a difference too. Positive images will help you to feel good and enjoy your running. Use tracks that motivate you to keep on running: Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run not only has inspirational lyrics but is approximately the right tempo for the long run. Beautiful Day by U2 is a bit slower at 136 bpm.