The Perfect Running Playlist

"You might be a RUNNER if the only time you update your playlist is right before a BIG race."

A girlfriend of mine is training for her first 5k!!!! This is SO exciting, because it means another person might catch the running bug...or she might decide she's NEVER running again...(she'll probably do both, in a matter of moments after crossing the Finish Line:)

But she asked me a question I get asked a lot... What songs should I put on my running playlist? While this is a loaded question, as the number ONE requirement for a song is that it be a song you like, there are some general rules of thumb I like to follow. 

1. Keep Your Ears & Eyes Open - If you're anything like me, you spend an obscene amount of time in your car. When a song comes on the radio that makes you want to do an embarrassing car-dance, grab your phone (without taking your eyes off the road or hands off the wheel...just like you do when you have to hand your kiddos a snack in the backseat) and take a picture / or screenshot if you're on Spotify or Pandora or whatever new music APP I'm behind the times to discover. After you have the name, you can search for it later in iTunes (preferably while not driving.)

I'm always finding pics like this in my Camera Roll - like little hidden gems of songs I forgot about...usually right before a marathon which is the only time I update my playlist.

I'm always finding pics like this in my Camera Roll - like little hidden gems of songs I forgot about...usually right before a marathon which is the only time I update my playlist.

2. Measure Your Cadence - Cadence is a word that actually ties music and running together. In music, cadence is a melodic or harmonic configuration of notes that creates a sense of resolution...In running, cadence is the total number of 'revolutions per minute' (RPM), or number of full cycles taken within a minute, by the pair of feet, and is used as a measure of athletic performance. There are a TON of really cool running APPS out there to help determine  and increase your cadence...But the LONG story short is, YOU WANT YOUR MUSIC TO HAVE A FAST BEAT THAT YOU CAN TRY TO MATCH WITH YOUR CADENCE. The best tool to use for this is a Metronome, which measures the Beat Per Minute of a song.

Search the word metronome in Google and the free metronome will pop up...Find your favorite song on iTunes and listen to the free sample as you hit play on the metronome. Move the scale up or down until you find the Beats Per Minute that will get your feet moving.

Search the word metronome in Google and the free metronome will pop up...Find your favorite song on iTunes and listen to the free sample as you hit play on the metronome. Move the scale up or down until you find the Beats Per Minute that will get your feet moving.

3. THROW MY PLAYLIST OUT THE WINDOW IF IT'S NOT YOUR JAM (If it's your jam, then jam away) - I have an eclectic mix of running friends, which is why I love them! We all have different tastes and that is most evident in our playlists. I'll never forget finding my friend Carey around Mile 12 of The Flying Pig Marathon and she told me how excited she was because her favorite musical had just come on her playlist....WHAT?!???? You're listening to ShowTunes during the marathon? Now, don't get me wrong - I love Wicked & Rent just like a normal person (and I'd probably have to make an amendment to this now that Hamilton is out...I COULD run to Hamilton...) But my point is, what I like isn't necessarily going to be what you like. You have to download a few songs and see how they make you feel. You'll have songs you can listen to for five years, and you'll have songs that you know after five seconds that you need to remove them from your playlist IMMEDIATELY!

I had fun going through my Flying Pig Marathon Playlist that has evolved a lot over the last four years. I went through and picked my fav songs in a few categories. I hope you enjoy & download a few...

SONGS WITH A GOOD BEATH (150+ BPM)

  1. 15 Step - Radiohead
  2. Green Light - John Legend (John Legend, you ask? YES! John Legend!!!)
  3. Bring it Back - Shy Carter
  4. Handclap - Fitz & The Tantrums
  5. Whistle - Katy Tiz

SONGS WITH SOME IRONY (If we can't laugh at ourselves during the marathon, we're in BIG trouble!!!)

  1. 500 Miles - The Proclaimers
  2. Feels Good - Tony! Toni! Tone!
  3. How Far We've Come - Matchbox 20
  4. Go Big Or Go Home - America Authors
  5. Life is a Highway - Tom Cochrane

SONGS THAT MAKE ME FEEL LIKE I'M IN A SUBARU COMMERCIAL (or a National Park) (or Robert Redford is narrating my marathon)

  1. Hold Back the River - James Bay
  2. I Lived - One Republic
  3. Gone Gone Gone - Phillip Phillips
  4. Brand New - Ben Rector
  5. Geronimo - Sheppard

Runner's High

My Friday To-Do List started with a 5:30 a.m. wake-up followed by a short run. I’d be home by 6:00 a.m. to stretch, shower and eat breakfast before waking the kids up for school at 7:00 o’clock.

            My husband had given me a hard time the night before when he saw the yellow, memo pad resting on the bathroom counter where I’d see it first thing in the morning. “You’re getting-up at 5:30 in the morning to go run? What, running a half marathon on Saturday isn’t enough for you?”

So when I FINALLY hoisted myself out of bed at 7:15, frantic about getting the kids up for their showers and breakfast – Chuck looked at me and said, “You're about six lines behind on your To-Do List.”

            It’s not that I’d missed the alarm. No, I heard it loud and clear. I just chose to ignore it – rationalizing in my head that the week before the marathon we’re suppose to be getting as much sleep as possible (a miniature hibernation if you will.) So I’d convinced myself to sleep while I could. I was ready for the half marathon in Louisville I was running the next day, and I didn’t want to over-do it before the full marathon the following weekend.

Fast-forward to 2:00 p.m. I’m cranking along, crossing things off my To-Do List left and right. I’ve been to work, I’ve been to the radio station to record some PSAs for the Relay for Life, and I’ve been to the post office and grocery store. Now I’m home where my To-Do List is telling me it’s time to shower and get packed for Louisville.

I’m suppose to be pulling out of my driveway at 3:00 o’clock, and I’m sitting at my computer calculating whether or not I have time to squeeze in a quick run before showering and packing… all, supposedly, in an hour. ‘There’s just no way!,’ I’m telling myself while downloading the last few songs to my running play-list when my heart starts to race. It almost feels like I’m beginning to have a panic attack, so I try to breathe deeply while reminding myself that I am prepared for the half and full marathons. I don’t need to stress myself out over a twenty-minute ‘tune-up’ jog.

By this time, however, not only is my heart racing…but my lower back is beginning to ache and my legs are getting twitchy. ‘I can’t imagine having to sit in the car for an hour-and-a-half feeling like this,’ I’m thinking as I notice myself gnawing on the end of my pen.

‘Oh my Lord!’ I think. ‘I’m jonesing for a run!’ (I don’t really know what Jonesing means, and it’s not a word I would use in normal conversation, but it seemed to fit in this scenario. Not only do I not know what Jonesing means, I’ve never experienced it before since I’ve never tried drugs that would cause you to Jones.)

            Now, I have NO idea the agony that drug addicts go through (and I do consider it a real medical condition), so I’m not trying to make light of their struggles… But I was NOT getting in that car to drive to Louisville feeling the way I was feeling! I would have been miserable – tight, fidgety, anxious, uncomfortable… All words I’ve heard used when describing drug withdraw.

            So I decided to throw the schedule out the window, lace-up my running shoes and hit the pavement. And as soon as I took that first deep breath of fresh air that sent oxygen to my moving muscles, I began to calm down. And after I got home and stretched-out really good, I felt like a new person.

            I’ve often had people ask me about the ‘runner’s high’ associated with long distance running. Until now, I’ve always answered with, ‘I’ve never experienced a euphoric experience while running…I’m usually just thankful it’s over when I’m finished.’

            And I still might not get the rush while in the actual act of running, but I now know what it feels like to go through withdraws!

 

It’s been a few days since I began writing this blog, and I’m now only 2 days, 16 hours, 31 minutes and 12, 11, 10…seconds away from my first marathon (thanks flyingpigmarathon.com for adding that extra surge of anxiety); and the amount of adrenaline, endorphins and nervous energy flowing through my body feels unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.

            So, it is my unprofessional opinion that the runner’s high – for me – is felt in the days leading up to the marathon. (I mean, I’ve been up since 3:50 a.m. cleaning house, doing laundry, cooking dinner, running, writing, taking care of my three little girls… like I have the energy and focus of five people.)

      If I could bottle this feeling and sell it I’d be a rich woman – or in prison because I’m pretty sure this is what being on cocaine would feel like.

Am I A Runner?... Maybe I’m A Runner… I’m A Runner!

*This is a blog I wrote the week before the tragedy in Boston. While I didn't want to post it last week, I still wanted to share. This is for all the running moms out there. Let me know if you agree.

Does anyone remember the show Mad About You? Helen Hunt? Paul Reiser? Newlyweds living in Manhattan? I know I’m dating myself, but it was one of my favorites.

Anyway, there was one episode that has always stuck with me…especially during my pregnancies…where Helen Hunt’s pregnant character finally has the revelation that she’s going to be a mother while arguing with her husband. “I’m the Mommy!” she keeps repeating to herself until it finally sinks in.

Well that is how I feel right now about being a runner.

You see, I’ve been training to run my first full marathon for almost four months now – and until recently I really haven’t spoken much about it outside of my running group. Subconsciously, I think I’d convinced myself if I talked about it – made it official – then there was no backing out. Where, if I kept it to myself – nobody would know if I ever actually ran a full marathon.

But the other night while I was lying in bed, unable to sleep due to the throbbing pain in my aching legs & the nervousness in my stomach about race day, it hit me – I’m a Runner!

This revelation finally sunk in when I made the obvious correlation between running and pregnancy. ‘Hey,’ I thought to myself. ‘I’ve felt this way before… unable to sleep due to aches, pains and apprehension…’ I just NEVER thought I’d feel that way again because I’d vowed to never have another baby!

 

The first trimester of pregnancy is a joyous time. You are sooooo incredibly excited you can hardly contain yourself, but – if you’re anything like me – you only want to tell close friends and family because there is always that chance that something could go wrong.

You might be feeling a little nauseous and – in my case – a lot tired…but overall your excitement makes up for it. You find yourself calling every girlfriend you know who’s had a baby and asking her a million-and-one questions to try to fill your brain with as much knowledge as possible. Little do you know, none of her advice will amount to a hill of beans as you blaze your own pregnancy trail…

            Well, this is EXACTLY how I felt when I joined my running group! I was nervous, yet excited. I was a little unsteady on my running feet, but the distances were short so I was fine. And like I said earlier, I was quiet with my news… Let’s face it, there’s a HUGE difference in running six miles & twenty-six miles!

And I asked as many questions as I could of the other women in my running group. What do you eat before the marathon? What do you do if you have to go to the bathroom during the marathon? (BTW - The unknown answer to this question – just like it was during pregnancy about what would happen during childbirth – remains my biggest fear about the marathon!)

 

Then comes the second trimester… my personal favorite! You’re over your morning sickness!!! Yippee! You have some of your energy back, and you can finally start telling people that you’re expecting. (Somehow, just like with my marathon training… this is the part of pregnancy that seems to fly by.)

            I felt great in the middle of training! We were up to about half-marathon distances & I was running negative splits. (I even knew what negative split meant!) I was making friends in my running group, figuring out what foods worked and what foods didn’t (PS - Don’t eat broccoli for dinner before you run! DUHH!), and actually enjoying this process! I felt like I just might make it to 26.2!!!!

 

Then… Tragically, the third trimester must come! Now, I know the importance of this time, I really do… But that doesn’t mean I have to like it! This is the time when your baby is growing strong enough to survive outside of the womb. The lungs are developing, weight is adding protection to the bones and organs, the brain is transforming…It is a true miracle from God how this all happens in such a short amount of time! But on the outside… Poor mom is swollen, her feet hurt, her BACK HURTS! If she’s anything like me, she can hardly eat due to heartburn and indigestion.

You’re so tired you can hardly move, but the second you lie down to rest your mind starts racing about the fact that, ‘You’re The MOM!’ One way or the other, this baby is coming out of YOUR body! There is no turning back! OMG!!!! And as absolutely, completely, one hundred percent terrified as you are about labor and delivery – you want nothing more in this world than to NOT be pregnant anymore!

            Well, my friends, I am at that place! I lie awake at night trying to imagine what is going to happen to me at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday, May 5, 2013. What if it’s raining? What if it’s 90 degrees? What if I am so nervous the night before that I can’t sleep? At the same time all of these thoughts are racing through my head, my body is reaching its breaking point. (I truly thought it impossible that my lower back would EVER hurt as badly as it did while carrying around two six-pound babies in utero, but I was mistaken!)

            While I was pregnant and couldn’t sleep due to the leg cramps, I would carefully lower my heavy body into a warm soothing bath. Now, I’m carefully lowering my aching body into a tub of ice after twenty-mile runs.

The positive thing about having experienced childbirth is that I know – one way or the other… natural, c-section or epidural – the pain is short-lived compared to the joy it brings.

            Don’t get me wrong, I’m not comparing a marathon medal to one of my children – but I’ve heard the feeling is pretty exhilarating. And I’m assuming it must be somewhat similar to birth…because – after all – why would people keep doing it if it wasn’t?