Saturday, October 08, 2005

The Moody Athlete

Guns and Roses was a tough band. Axle Rose! The guy was CORE… I remember being in Grade School and being psyched to hear the frets of Slash. At times, I could run faster than anyone, if Guns and Roses played on my bedroom stereo system. It was the music, my music, that made me charge. I also remember turning to the softer side of metal rock. Yes, I’m talking about the classic ballad “Every Rose has Its Thorn” by Poison. The sweet melody poured easily in to our 7th grade hearts during the Halloween dance. It set the stage. The song was all I needed to make my move. I stood up from my chair and asked Erin, the little Mormon girl to dance.

Music is paramount to our human experience. Think about how many times you have been surrounded by music. Maybe the occasion was a wedding or a birthday party. More likely, the music blared during your graduation party or random Friday night. It seems as if any human event can be made more important by choice tunes. However, music is more than an accompaniment to traditional events. It serves a purpose. Whether you are walking down the isle, partying until you drop or racing; music creates the mood, and the mood makes everything possible.

Mood regulation is just as important to athletes, as it is to a high school crush. In fact, mood is one of the key predictors of athletic performance according to a recent study by Matthew Stevens and Andrew Lane, of the University of Wolverhampton, U.K. Their article in the Online Journal of Sports Psychology stated that listening to music was a strategy reported to regulate mood dimensions by athletes. In other words, the study demonstrated that an athlete with a positive mood would perform in a consistent manner and music might assist in the regularity. The types of music used by the athletes were variable, but nonetheless music was important.

In another study, Dr. C. I. Karageorghis, Ph.D. states that music can actually be rated using a method called the Brunel Music Rating Inventory (BMRI). According to Dr. Karageorghis’ study, music must inspire the listener. Well-built rhythmic traits that match the tempo of the predicted heart rate, harmonies that create a positive mood state and music that is culturally significant are important considerations when choosing music based on BMRI. Dr. Karageorghis uses this example in his study: if you are swimming using the breast stroke at a rate of 100 strokes per minute, it would be sensible to use music playing at 100 beats per minute (bpm). Again, music is unique, as stated in the study. It is personal to the listener.

Pre-race music is important to me. I use music to calm down. Personally, I have a very significant problem with “jitters”, or race-anxiety. The music I listen to is very jazzy, funky, calm and tough. The melodies are complicated, but touch the soul with just enough “up-beats” to get me excited to race. Unfortunately, race organizers do not allow headphones. Thus, I internalize the music. I recall each and every beat during the race. At times, I actually breathe the lyrics. There have been times when I’ve passed other riders who are also in touch with their musical choices. I have passed riders singing pop songs as well as opera. I’m sure that their singing has nothing to do with the lack of oxygen, but I wonder.

Below is a list of pre-race tunes I have chosen for the 24-Hours of Moab race.

In The Sun: Beat Pharmacy
Bharat Funk: DJ Oddme
Chameleon: Herbie Hancock
Gwithian: Luke Vibert
Bullet in the Head: Rage Against the Machine
Chicago: Groove Armada
The Next Movement: The Roots

What music do you listen too? Make a comment...


BamaBabe05 said...

Loved the info.
Since I am a runner, my music
also depends on the beat to match my pace.

JMETA said...

Here is the new stuff my ipod contains (some for workouts, some not so much):
Wycleaf Jean
The Spooks
Minus The Bear
Devandra Banhart

walkert said...


Thanks for the info!

adashiell said...

"I'm baaaaaack!

I'm back in the saddle again!"

great pre-competition stuff.

Anonymous said...

I'll have to get some of this music. Riding to music, hell even working out to music makes me work harder. I also tend to zen out a little...

Great post!

Anonymous said...