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Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock

Running with audio: find a beat to match your stride

Smartphone app data trends from sportswear brand Nike show a rise in audio-guided runs during recent months

Data on global fitness trends from sportswear giant Nike for March and April shows that people have been putting in a shift to stay fit, despite the lockdown. The numbers were collected from the Nike Training Club and Nike Run Club apps. The Nike Run Club app saw more than a million new runners join the platform in March. There was also a 42% increase in the number of runs logged.

More interestingly, there was a spike in audio-guided runs, with runners describing them as a way to “run alone without being alone". There was a particularly big rise in mindfulness-related audio-guided runs, such as the “Run with Headspace" 32-minute workout and the “First Run" 15-minute audio-guided run.

So what’s unique about audio-guided runs? One, they are a great way to stay motivated since they mostly feature instructions and dialogue with fitness trainers, running coaches or elite athletes who stay with you through the run.

Arjun Dewan, a 27-year-old data analyst in Kansas, US, says running with audio is quite helpful for runners at the beginning of the learning curve. “Sometimes, when you are running or even walking, it’s easy to lose track of your pace and timing. In that sense, they are really helpful—even for seasoned runners," says Dewan, who has been part of the well-known Runners Group since 2015 and has used the Nike Run Club app in the past.

Listening to a favourite track can help you run better too. A 2015 study published in The Journal Of Strength And Conditioning Research had conducted experiments with 15 runners on how different kinds of music (slow and fast motivational songs, calm songs) affected their performance over a distance of 5km. Researchers found the music was able to activate the prefrontal cortex. It improved performance and accelerated recovery during the run. The prefrontal cortex is a region of the brain associated with complex cognitive behaviour and decision-making.

Some studies have even suggested that running to a “beat" can help runners improve their overall cadence—the number of times your feet touch the ground in a minute during a run. Boosting your running cadence not only improves performance but also results in fewer injuries.


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