Monday, May 17, 2010

Running Inspiration

Last October I completed the Chicago Marathon (note the verb “completed” rather than “ran”). In part, I blame my teenage daughters, who both run track and cross country, for making it seem effortless to run ridiculous distances on a daily basis. This is very misleading and not realistic for someone in her forties who does not have negative body fat like a teenager might. Nonetheless, I was inspired by reading “The Couch Potato’s Guide to Running the Marathon” (seriously) and off I went. I consider the marathon one of my greatest accomplishments to date, as anyone who trains and completes it should, no matter what their time (special huge emphasis on this point).

While immersed in the grueling five-month training process, I was lucky enough to have several coworkers who were also training for their first marathon, so we provided a mini support system for each other. Instant message topics included such technical things as brands of socks that were most effective, at what point during an 18-mile run a cracker might be eaten, etc. At some point I offered what I thought was a brilliant idea: we should all make a cd of songs to run to and trade with each other. What better way to be inspired than with a fresh crop of good music??? To my shock, I was met with a lukewarm response. One person told me that she generally does not run with an iPod or radio and uses the time to really gather her thoughts. What a lovely, new-age concept. Good for her, but my thoughts will only last for about the first three minutes of a run; I can most closely be compared to a toddler who must be distracted from an unpleasant task. Since I haven’t found anyone who runs as slowly as I do and can entertain me during my runs, I have decided that music is the closest alternative.

I was not to be discouraged by the response from my coworkers and prepared what I felt to be a fantastic playlist to train with. Sometimes when I run I like to listen to something new and really focus on the songs, which distracts me from my pain (always the goal, never fully achieved). Often, though, I think a good running playlist acts as an audio cheerleader, making you feel good and inspiring you to keep going. I’ve read that people who are able to match their pace to the music they’re listening to can improve their endurance, which seems reasonable. If you can figure out how many beats (steps) per minute you run, there is a website ( that gives you songs at various BPM. I’ve tried that and it works okay, but I prefer songs that are personal favorites to keep me going. There is also a new device similar to an iPod that you wear while running and it will actually choose music to match your pace, both from your own library and one that’s pre-programmed (a little light on the details for that as it came from Runner’s World, which I don’t read nearly as carefully as Rolling Stone). All this is support that I am not crazy- music can help you run better. Yay!

What follows is my personal playlist, prepared for the pretend swap during last year’s training, which never actually materialized. I’ve modified it a bit since last year to include some newer songs. It includes quite a range of artists and songs to keep things interesting and is about an hour long. Perhaps if you have a good enough playlist, you can also be inspired to exercise!

· Jai Ho! (A.R. Rahman & The Pussycat Dolls)
· Reptilia (The Strokes)
· Cecilia (Simon & Garfunkel)
· A-Punk (Vampire Weekend)
· One Way or Another (Blondie)
· Heart of a Champion (Nelly)
· I Get Knocked Down (Chumbawamba)
· I Like the Way You Move (Outkast)
· Can’t Get You Out of My Head (Kylie Minogue)
· Shake It (Metro Station)
· Two Step (Dave Matthews Band)
· Be Yourself (Audioslave)
· Homecoming (Kanye West)
· I Gotta Feeling (Black Eyed Peas)
· That’s the Way Love Is (Poi Dog Pondering)
· Bouncing Around the Room (Phish)

If you have any other great suggestions, please let me know. During a bout of severe amnesia, I signed up for the 2010 marathon and am facing the commencement of training very shortly!

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