Nature vs. Music: Picking the perfect Bridge Run playlist

The Rock My Run app sets playlists that use tempo to help runners improve performance.

By Stacy

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Tens of thousands of runners, joggers and walkers will converge on Mount Pleasant to complete the Cooper River Bridge Run Saturday. Many of them will listen to music on their headphones despite the fact that the race has 50 live bands, according to director Julian Smith.

But Bridge Run officials have asked that participants not use headphones during the race in an effort to keep people safer and more alert.

"If people are asking someone to move over, or if they're in their own music world, they're not going to hear it. Or if something happens, they're not listening," Smith said.

Smith also referenced the increased security at this year's race, changed in light of the Boston Marathon bombing that occurred two weeks after last year's event.

"It's best with all the security issues to travel light and be alert," Smith said.

But, Smith's plea may fall on ears that prefer their own playlist.

According to an article in The Guardian, a study conducted by Runner's World found that 75 percent of 3,523 surveyed runners listened to music while they ran.

One of those people is Megan Viviano, who has completed 10 full marathons and six half marathons.

I tweeted out a question that asked people about creating the perfect race playlist. Viviano tweeted back: "Don't put MOST motivational songs 1st- or you'll go out too fast! And variety is key."

Viviano, who's run more than 300 competitive miles, would know. And Adam Riggs-Zeigen agreed.

"We help people run for longer, farther and faster, and do things they never thought were possible. It's amazing how the right music combined with the right tempo does that," Riggs-Zeigen said.

Riggs-Zeigen is the chief executive officer, or the "chief rocker" as he called it, at a California-based mobile app company called Rock My World. The Rock My Run mobile app offers running playlists based on musical preferences. He said starting slow is the most important element to create a successful running playlist.

"One of the big mistakes people make is starting out too fast. They sprint out of the gate. After they get past the initial surge of people, that can burn you out for any race. We offer that 'build over time,'" he said.

The app uses beats per minute as a metric for how it orders songs.

"There's strong research that shows music paced with your stride helps improve performance by up to 15 percent. There's a lot of evidence to making sure you have the right beat for your stride," Riggs-Zeigen said.

But on Bridge Run morning, the physical component won't be the only hump for participants. They also have to worry about cell service.

"A lot of times with cell phones, there are so many of them they don't work," Smith said.

Participants should not depend on an Internet-based music stream and instead should have an mp3 player or playlist ready.

Rock my Run also has playlists available for download.

But if runners choose to heed Smith's advice, they will be set with the 50 bands stationed around the Bridge Run route. So if you're worried about safety or cell service, just cruise on to the beat of the race.