Music and running go together like Fred and Ginger, like apple pie and ice-cream, like a horse and carriage etc etc. The perfect tunes have the power to transform my run from terrifying to triumphant. The right rhythm can help with cadence. Oh, and those beats block the laboured sound of my own jagged breathing from my ears.
Not everyone likes listening to tracks while jogging – there are safety issues (see below) and some people just enjoy being alone with their own thoughts, some (lucky sods) are able to reach a kind of perfect clarity, away from the noise of the world. I think it’s called ‘the zone’ and it’s a place I continue to strive for.
If, like me, you desperately require the distraction, spending a bit of time collating a playlist can pay off big time. Some people use their goal pace to pull together music with the number of beats per minute to match cadence. Others like to assign specific tracks to when they know they will flag. While there isn’t currently any scientific research to suggest this is foolproof, as is often the case, it comes down to personal preference. In any case, I don’t do anything as grandiose as that: I just bash a few songs I like together, with something a bit more relaxing for the warm down.
My ultimate running playlist:
Eye of the Tiger – Survivor. Because Rocky III.
Lose Yourself – Eminem. That beat, that voice…very motivating.
Strong Enough – Cher. Seriously, if you can run to this, without dancing on the treadmill, then, well, you’re less of a sucker for late nineties Cher than I am.
Block Rockin’ Beats – The Chemical Brothers. Does what it says on the tin. Keeps those feet moving.
Burning heart – Survivor. Ok, another Rocky number. But there’s a good reason for this. This song, and one particular line in particular got me through the very painful last couple of kilometres in a pretty difficult race. “In the warrior’s code there’s no surrender/while the body cries stop, the spirit cries NEVER!” (Yes, this is hilarious when a slightly chubby middle class non-warrior is singing it on the hoof. But if you don’t take yourself seriously, no-one else will…)
Move Your Feet – Junior Senior. Joyously invigorating. Might slap a smile on your pained pace after you’ve racked up a few kms. Something for when you’re feeling a bit less precious than during the previous track.
Gonna Fly Now – Bill Conti. Yeah. It’s from the Rocky soundtrack. I’m just gonna stop here and say the entire Rocky soundtrack (minus the rest of the score, which is brilliant, obviously, but not all suited to pounding the pavement).
Express Yourself – NWA. Classic track, of course. Also notable for the small chuckle of recognition during the line “moving like a tortoise/full of rigor mortis.”
Sucker for Pain – Lil Wayne & Wiz Khalifa. What the hell else do you call someone who’s out running instead of, well, anything?
Black Skinhead – Kanye West. An angry track, good for that midpoint when it feels like you’re never going to get to the end of your run, and you need a bit of rage to push you on.
Don’t Stop til you get Enough – Michael Jackson. The list was starting to get a little intense – this should counteract this nicely with an inspiring burst of funk-infused perfect pop.
Intergalactic – The Beastie Boys. Just because.
There are obviously some safety issues to take into consideration when listening to music; having headphones in while road running can lesser your alertness to dangers including traffic and other people. For this reason, some people only listen while on the treadmill, and others avoid using an MP3 player early in the morning or late at night.