Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Are You Ashamed of Your Running Mix?

If you're going to be slogging along on a mid-August afternoon run, you may as well have some good tunes piped in to help you along.  That's where I found myself today.  Without my running partner to help evaporate away the miles, I turned to my trusty iPod, cued up the "On the Bus" playlist and set out.  Wednesday is tempo/fartlek day, and the calendar called for 4 miles at tempo pace with a mile warmup and cool down on the front and back end.  

I trotted along to get things loosened up, which doesn't take very long when the temperature reads 97 and probably starts with a 1 if you factor in the humidity.  Dreadful.  But I had some U2 going on, some old school rap, and even a little Motley Crew to pound out those first miles.  

Then around the 2 mile mark of my tempo miles, as I was flying down the backside of a hill, trying to convince myself that I could press on at this sub-6 minute pace in the heat, I started to chuckle when the next song came through.

Before the big reveal, I recently had a request from two separate work colleagues who were getting back into running.  They wanted me to burn my running mix onto CDs for them to add to their iPods.  At first, I thought, "No problem."  But as I watched each cut burn, I started feeling a little self-conscious.  My ears went flush and I realized the horrible thought that my playlist may actually embarrass me.  

Let's be honest, most running playlists take some careful selection, trial and error, etc.  For me, I've heard songs on the radio that I feel like could be killer tunes to help fire up the adrenaline and push me up some hill or through the last miles of a long run.  Only to find out that when that song does come on, it only leaves me empty and disappointed.  Sorry, Bon Jovi, "Wanted Dead or Alive" just isn't getting the job done.  But a song I'm on the fence about, say, U2's Desire, comes through and gets the arms pumping and the legs churning.   Then there's my old standbys that have been with me for years: Metallica, Linkin Park, Cypress Hill, and Ram Jam.

Then there are the songs I've simply ripped off of the Washington Capitals game.  Rev Theory's Hell Yeah?  You won't be disappointed.  I still remember the first time it came on.  I was in the final 2 miles of a 16 miler at Manassas Battlefield, I was so pumped up, I started fist pumping across the field.

And that of course brings me to those, shall we call them, "other songs."  They're the ones that come on in the car.  When you're alone.  You cast a sideways glance to make sure no one else is watching, or more importantly listening, and then you ever so subtly reach for the radio knob and turn that volume UP!

I did end up burning those discs for my colleagues.  And as I presented them, I did so with a disclaimer.   Something to the effect of, "Look, there's stuff on here you may not like.  But know that it works for me.  You might be surprised.  Just give it a try.  And for God sake's, whatever you do, don't judge."

They say ok and it ends there.  Until they get to the *sigh* Britney Spears.  Then I have some explaining to do.  It's not that I like's just that, well, it's good to run to dammit!  She keeps a good beat!  

So, I rounded the corner of my Ox Hill loop today, turning into the backside of the neighborhood, charging up the Sweet Leaf Street hill, when she came on.  I'm not proud of it, but it helped.  And then, of all things, the new Enrique Iglesias song came on.  Yes, I downloaded it.  Yes, I think it's good to run to.  Yes, you may judge me.

Anyhow, what I've come to realize is that, our tastes in music are as different as the running shoes we choose to wear.  Some are good.  Some are not so good.  And as the saying goes, they can't all be winners.  

Ashamed? No.  Bashful? Perhaps.  Picking up the pace when Lady Gaga comes in?  You know it.


  1. I've been on the fence about commenting, but this post actually made me laugh out loud :-)

    I found your blog during a random, naptime, "hey I wonder what so-and-so is up to?" session on Facebook.

    Anyway, reading this has made me want to get back into running so badly. Six weeks after this baby is born I'm getting new shoes and hitting the pavement again :-)


  2. Hehe, I LOVE this post. AND, I know exactly what you mean. My running mixes have more Spice Girls, Britney Spears, LFO, and trashy Euro-pop than you can shake a stick at. And I think my favorite song of all time for running - Hot, Hot, Hot by Buster Poindexter. {hangs head in shame and shuffles away...}


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