Music. It is one of the three things, along with rhythm and your gal (or guy), that when you have all three, you would be crazy to ask for anything more. It can soothe the savage beast, make Fluffy, the three-headed dog guarding the Sorcerer’s Stone (Philosopher’s Stone for those of you outside the US) go to sleep, lead rats out of the city, make (or break) a party, and many other things.
When I got married, I paid a premium for a DJ that I knew was good because I went to one wedding where the DJ played crappy songs and sang karaoke along with them. Nobody was dancing, except when I went up and requested songs that would get people on the dance floor. Songs you can’t stay at your table, you are propelled onto the dance floor. What songs you ask? The Twist by Chubby Checker, Shout by Otis Redding (or Isley Brothers), or even Twist and Shout by the Beatles.
Music can set a romantic mood (Marvin Gaye Let’s Get it On), or a playful one (Hank Williams Jr. Are you ready for some football!). A certain tune can bring up happy memories, or it could be “your song” for you and your spouse. Music can make a long drive seem shorter, or it can provide a nice soundtrack to a windy mountain road. While I prefer some good rock music at these times, I have heard that classical music is the preferred soundtrack to driving 150 mph at night on the Autobahn.
When it comes to running or biking, I like having something in my ear to keep the voices in my head quiet. I have about six playlists of various themes that are 45 minutes long for weekday runs, seven playlists for runs lasting 45 to 90 minutes, two half marathon playlists, and two marathon playlists. My music list includes classic rock, new rock, rap, country, blues, funny stuff, metal, and a lot of stuff in between.
I like faster songs, because they make me run faster. Songs like Warrior’s Call by Volbeat, Hot for Teacher by Van Halen, Can’t Touch This by M.C. Hammer. But I also have some plain ol’ good songs on my list too. Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison, Gin and Juice by the Gourds (it’s a bluegrass/country version of the Snoop Dog song), Boy Named Sue by Johnny Cash, and Crazy by Gnarls Barkley are just some examples of fun songs, plus several by Weird Al Yankovic (White and Nerdy and Amish Paradise).
I found that my song lists were getting played too much, so I actually started listening to the radio when I ran on weekdays. I found that I actually prefer talk radio when I run. It distracts me from running and I am not dependent on beats to keep my rhythm in check. It also helps the normal playlists from getting stale.
Another thing I do is try to keep some of the songs on my race playlists off of my training playlists. Again, this keeps the race playlist fresh. I also like to try to time songs to hit at certain times during a race. My go to song for the end of a long race is I will Survive by Gloria Gaynor. I try to have that song play around mile 12 of the half marathon or mile 20 of a full. I try to follow it up with a fast fun song. I currently have Jump Around by House of Pain for my finish song for my half marathon, a good fast song for that last 1/2 mile dash for the finish line. For my half marathon list, I know the order so well (because I ran 15 half marathons in 17 months) I can tell how I am doing based on what song is playing when I hit the mile markers. For example, when I PR’ed, I actually crossed the finish line when I will Survive just started.
For safety reasons, when I run, I only have one ear bud in and I don’t have the volume up very high. I test myself to be sure I can hear ambient noise, like the dog chain jingling, my feet on the pavement, birds, cars, my kid crying, etc. This is also good during a race so you can hear instructions from volunteers, or if somebody is behind you asking to squeeze by.
Another safety thing I do is not use my phone for music. I know it is convenient to have your phone do everything for you (play music, take pictures, track your run, etc.) but having all those apps active run down the battery. If I am running somewhere that is secluded, I may need that battery to call somebody, or use the map function to find my way out. I have a small mp3 player that is smaller than most car key fobs, weighs next to nothing, and is pretty durable (it gets dropped a lot). I use the SanDisk Clip Zip mp3 player which not only holds 4GB of music, it has an FM tuner built into it so I can listen to the radio.
Actually, this is my second mp3 player like this. My first one died at the start of my last marathon. I had that mp3 player for four or five years, and used it when I was doing archaeology in Florida, plus nearly every run I did (I put it away during the last month of triathlon training) rain or shine. I have been in torrential downpours with that thing on my belt or in the pocket of my running shorts, and it did great. I also like it because it is fairly inexpensive ($35 on Amazon – $50 for 8GB). If you trip and fall and break it, it isn’t as big a deal compared to your $200 ipod (or your phone).
I also like the headphones that go over the top of your head, that way I can take my headphones off and put them around my neck without worrying about a dangling ear bud. I also don’t like stuffing those things in my ears. Another trick is to run the cord of your headphones through your shirt, I usually run it down my back. This not only reduces the chances of snagging the cord on something (a tree branch, a guard rail, your thumb, etc.), it also allows you the ability to take your shirt off without too much entanglement. I like the ones below, because they will fold up pretty small for storage, and the sweat drips of the things on the bottom and not in your ear.
What are some of your favorite running songs?