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Motivation Through Music

Have you ever been driving down the highway listening to a fast-paced song and suddenly realise that you’re driving at warp speed? Are there certain songs you listen to that you just can’t help bobbing your head and singing along? Music has the ability to impact our emotional and physiological arousal. Your entire mood and energy can change when a particular song comes on. Movie producers have been using music to influence the emotional reactions of audiences for decades. We all have songs we listen to that pull at our heartstrings or put a smile on our faces. There are great ways that you can use the emotional pull of music to your advantage when it comes to your sport.

Research has shown music to improve athletic performance in many ways. Diverting your attention away from fatigue, increasing your physiological arousal, helping you set your pace; music can have a big impact on performance. In addition, relaxing music has been shown to decrease cortisol levels. Cortisol is the hormone that is released when you elicit your “fight or flight” response. Many athletes use music, and everyone wants to know what is on the Gold Medalists’ playlists!

Using music for motivation can certainly enhance performance, but it’s important to train without the use of music as well. Most athletic events don’t allow you to wear headphones during competition, so be sure to use it as a tool and not a crutch. Here are some ideas to start with:

During Training

If you have a long day of training ahead of you, listening to music can help distract you from pain and fatigue and lower your rate of perceived exertion. Listening to music keeps your brain focused on the song instead of the physical sensations in your body. You can also use music to synchronize movement. Choose songs with a tempo that matches your pace.

Before Performance

Your choice of music before a performance is key. Music can be used to either pump and psych you up, or help you relax; get calm and composed. You can even listen to music before you go out to train to get motivated for your workout.

Special mention to Carrie Cheadle

Stuart has competed in triathlons from Sprint to Ironman distance. As a qualified Triathlon Australia, Australian Athletics Run Coach, and a certified Ironman coach, he is aware of the importance of balancing training with lifestyle, thus complementing other important aspects of an athlete’s life (family, work, study commitments, etc.).

Contact Stuart at



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