Some of us couldn’t imagine running without music. We feel naked without our ear buds, listless without a beat. Music is adrenaline for the ears, and escapism for the imagination. Some scientific studies report a measurable increase in performance when runners set their pace with the right tunes.

One theory is that music diverts attention from our suffering. It’s also likely that we have a longer attention span for dance than for punishment!

We suggest making custom playlists for your workouts. Experiment with tempos and find what works. If up-tempo tunes are irresistibly stimulating for you, save them for the high-intensity portions of your interval workouts. You don’t want the music pushing you too hard, turning rest days into sprints, mucking up your carefully designed training program.

You should absolutely have fun with it. Create interval mixes that tell you when slow down and when to push. Find a genre that puts you into a mile-swallowing trance for longer runs.

There are times you’ll probably want to forgo the tunes. In group runs it’s better to be able to converse. If you have to run on roads with narrow shoulders, hearing approaching cars should take precedent over the party in your head. Same goes for unfamiliar neighborhoods or anywhere you might feel vulnerable. And in competition, it’s almost certainly better to get your stimulation from the race around you. You’ll want to be aware of the other runners, and any instructions from the announcer, and of course, your adoring fans.