When he broke the record for the 10,000-meter run, Haile Gebrselassie had sync’d his jog to the beat of “Scatman” by Scatman John.
“I [broke] many records with the ‘Scatman’ song,” Gebrselassie told The Guardian. “…If you watch back some of my world records you can hear ‘Scatman’ in the background. The rhythm was perfect for running.”
And he’s not the only athlete to do this — watch the pre-game for any sporting event and you’ll see athletes walking around with headphones on, getting in the zone.
And the best swimmer in the world, Michael Phelps, is no exception. And you know what, he’s got scientific reasons for this.
Researchers have found that syncing your music to your exercise can increase skill and performance. They’ve proven that music distracts endurance athletes from fatigue and pain and increases athletes’ endurance by 15%.
Athletes use music to get in the zone for good reason. Maybe that’s why Phelps is the best.
Phelps, a 24-time Olympic gold medalist, has headphones on every minute he’s not in the pool. And according to the New York Times, Phelps listens to Eminem, Young Jeezy, and Eric Church while getting in the zone before a big swim.
“That song [“Right Above It” by Lil Wayne] made me want to finish strong and look forward to life after swimming,” Phelps once said.
During the 2016 Olympics, he talked about the affect of music on his pre-race warm-up.
“I was just trying to really get going and really get amped right before I would walk out,” he told People. “And [the music] helped a lot.”
So whether you’re Michael Phelps, Haile Gebrselassie, or just a person who considers going to the fridge exercise (ahem…me), listen to music while you do what you’re doing.
It will help.