I received one of those new-fangled digital audio players as a gift, over the holidays, and have been listening to some of my favorite songs while running each day. I have noticed that some songs seem to empower me to run faster. Can you recommend a short list of inspirational running music that would be good to listen to while I am training for my marathon? - Musically Endeared
As a responsible columnist (well, a columnist anyway), it is my duty to recommend that you never run with ear-phones plugged into your head. Having said that, it is also my duty to admit that I wear my own MP3 player on most runs. I am that guy that you see out on those snowy New England back roads, with wires dangling out of his ears, bopping along to some audio input, seemingly oblivious to the world on which he treads.
Now, any article written on the subject of "favorite songs to run to" is going to be a subjective study of the authors' musical preferences. It should be the goal of this columnist (so called) to help list those up-tempo tunes which will inspire you to improved locomotive performance. But rather than list for you those songs which might fool you into running faster, longer and harder, let's focus on the real purpose for musical inspiration on the highways and byways of our running lives.
The sole purpose for running around with a set of headphones plugged into your head is to trick yourself into believing that you are the protagonist in some epic movie about a runner who wins some Great Race, confounding the so called experts who claimed that such a win was impossible. You are Rocky Balboa, running up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, you are Eric Liddell running the West Sands beach in St. Andrews, and you are Forrest Gump, running across America and through Monument Valley. This musical score should make your audience cheer, laugh, weep, sigh and fight. Each song and lyric should have some personal emotional connection that makes direct or indirect mention of some aspect of your life's story.
As an example, lets consider Bruce Springsteens' popular tune "Born to Run", a theme found blaring at many an organized road race: "The highway's jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive / Everybody's out on the run tonight but there's no place left to hide". What highway? What broken heroes? Who are these crowds of dejected people on the run tonight with "no place left to hide"? Why and from what are they running? What or who are they hiding from? Each of us can envision a personal instance that puts ourselves within the context of those lyrics.
You can find a plethora of listings of running related musical titles which might inspire you to go the distance. Neil Youngs' "Long May You Run" ("We found things to do in stormy weather...") or Tom Petty's "Running Down a Dream" ("Never would come to me, Working on a mystery, Going wherever it leads...") are popular favorites. Many runners like to associate a tune such as the theme to the movie "Chariots of Fire" or Jackson Brownes' "Running on Empty" ("You know I don't even know what I'm hoping to find / Running into the sun but I'm running behind...") as a means towards faster, stronger finishes.
My personal favorites include Kate Bushs' "Running Up That Hill" ("Be running up that road, Be running up that hill, With no problems...") and The Modern Lovers classic "Road Runner" ("Suburban trees, suburban speed, And it smells like heaven..."). These songs never fail to push me past those physical limits set upon me by natures design.
Heavy Metal enthusiasts might prefer such anthems as Iron Maiden's "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner" (a title taken from Alan Sillitoe's 1959 short story) which includes the lyrics: "I've got to keep running the course, I've got to keep running and win at all costs, I've got to keep going, be strong, Must be so determined and push myself on".
Your musical selections should include both up-tempo, fast beat tunes as well as slower "easy stride" songs for interval recovery. The style of music is not as important as its effect on your mental inspiration.
While I really can't recommend a complete list of songs for you to run with, I hope I've been able to give you some ideas that will help you to create your own moving musical score.
Remember that while you are running, tuned in to your own dramatic theme, the reality of the outside world will not operate in concert with your theatrical script. Beware of reckless automobile pilots who will not know or care that you are reaching some climatic crescendo in your "action adventure".
Run long and taper.