The research shows that if you match the beat of the music to the strides per minute of your running tempo, you perform better.* One possibility as to the underlying mechanism of “beat matched running” is that music tends to decrease stride time variability – the amount of time between each step. The theory is that synchronous music, music that matches your stride cadence, helps you, the runner or walker, to smooth out this between step time variability. If you can make your steps more consistent by lessening this time variability you will see performance benefits. So, how do you run better learning to decrease the time latency between steps?
Upbeat Workouts wants to help you to become a better runner by showing you exactly how much you vary the time between strides. Currently, Upbeat Workouts displays your “stride cycle” which is different than your SPMs, your strides per minute. For example, one cycle of left foot then right foot shows on the display on the main workout screen of Upbeat Workouts. So, if you see the number 80 that means 80 cycles of left foot-right foot strikes or multiply that number by 2x to get 160 strides per minute.
We’ve decided to change the Upbeat Workout display to represent exact SPMs rather than stride cycles to show you how profound the flux is in stride time variability. This upcoming change should help you develop a consistent number as you run rather than watching the device bounce around from 160, 168, 162 SPMs for example. When you smooth out your running by entraining to the music the variability will be 160, 162, 161 – that’s what you want to see.
Beat matched running happens best when you synchronize the beats per minute of the music smoothly and consistently evening out the frequency of your strides per minute.
*Karageorghis, C. I., Mouzourides, D. A., Priest, D., Sasso, T. A., Morrish, D. J., & Walley, C. L. (2009). Brunel University Research Archive: Psychophysical and ergogenic effects of synchronous music during treadmill walking.