playlist, running

She shall have music wherever she goes…

Running and music are inseparable.

I know people that run without music. I have even tried to be one of them. During my first marathon, I didn’t use music at all in training or in the race. I tried to be a purist, to associate fully with the run, to avoid distracting myself with songs. Five years later, even though I often leave my iPod at home on runs, I still can’t manage to run without hearing music. Even on short runs, even when I’m talking to someone else, I can’t help but have a song in my head.

Honestly, I have some kind of music in my head all day long (yes, even right now: The Goldfish Song by the Laurie Berkner Band.) My brain is my personal Pandora station. The quality of the music varies, but there are (usually) no commercials. (I did have the old “Toys R Us Kid” song in my head for about 3 hours one day last week.)

Unfortunately, my Pandora-brain lacks a Running channel. Sometimes, if I don’t have my headphones and a carefully engineered playlist, I end up with inappropriate music rattling around in my head. It can be a challenge to get rid of it. Take my last long run, for example: I struggled through the first half, partly because of the crazy hilly course George mapped out, but also because of the unhelpful people singing inside my skull (mainly the Beatles with “Carry That Weight.”) Talk about feeling heavy. When George handed me his iPod in the last three miles, it was a relief to let something else (Aretha Franklin and Kanye West, in that case) drown out that song.

Although my taste in music is diverse, I’m kind of a snob about my “regular” music. I don’t listen to commercial radio, and I’m sort of precious about what is on my iPod. For running, though, my standards are totally different. I listen to all kinds of stuff while I’m running that I would be embarrassed about at any other time. Even George has teased me about some of it (um, Spice Girls?). I used to apologize for this. I don’t anymore. If I’m going to run for hours on end, I can listen to whatever I want, even if it’s trashy. No judgment.

With the race coming up on Sunday, it’s time to start assembling my playlist. Here are some highlights, in case you are interested:

Pre-Game (waiting forever in the line for the bathroom while I second guess my choice to wear short sleeves)

  • Shine – Collective Soul
  • Down at the Twist and Shout – Mary Chapin Carpenter
  • Closer to Fine – Indigo Girls
  • To Be Young – Ryan Adams 
  • Forca – Nelly Furtado
  • Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison

The Early Miles (I’m just getting started, here, and I don’t care if you pass me)

  • Roll Away Your Stone – Mumford and Sons
  • Old Time Rock ‘n’ Roll – Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band
  • Touch of Grey – Grateful Dead
  • Meadow Green – Old and in the Gray
  • Crosstown Traffic – Jimi Hendrix
  • It’s the End of the World as We Know It – R.E.M.
  • Love Me or Leave Me – Nina Simone

The Middle (I don’t care if you pass me because this is the fun part, and I’m so happy to be alive!)

  • Ladyflash – The Go! Team
  • Magnolia Soul – Ozomatli
  • Starships – Nicki Minaj
  • Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard – Paul Simon
  • Dog Days Are Over – Florence and the Machine
  • Magic Carpet Ride – Steppenwolf
  • The Horizon is a Beltway – The Low Anthem

The Hard Part (now I don’t care if you pass me because I’m just trying to get to the finish line)

  • Devil’s Dance Floor – Flogging Molly
  • Living in Colour – Frightened Rabbit
  • Hey Ya! – Andre 3000/Outkast
  • Pump It – Black Eyed Peas
  • Highway to Heaven –  Mahalia Jackson
  • Here I Come – The Roots
  • Leanin’ on the Everlasting Arms – Fontella Bass

The Finishing Stretch (I love this song! Oh, I love this song, too! I’m going to get a medal! I will NOT let you pass me now…better watch out- they call it a finishing kick for a reason!)

  • You Can’t Stop the Beat from Hairspray
  • He’s All over Me – Whitney Houston and the Georgia Mass Choir (from the Preacher’s Wife soundtrack)
  • Go Speed Racer, Go – Ali Dee and the Deekompressors

Richmond marathon, 2010 – that’s the finish line up there, right in front of me.

I have amassed a lot of music in the past five years…23.5 hours of stuff in the “Running Music” folder on my iTunes as of last evening. Still, I’d love to have a few new songs to try out and use for this race. What are your suggestions? I’m open to anything – I’ve run to everything from Flatt and Scruggs to the JMU Marching Royal Dukes to the Soweto Gospel Choir to Smashing Pumpkins. So Really…Anything.

Leave me a comment here (click below the post on “Comments,” which will bring up a comment box inviting you to leave a message) or on Facebook if you’d like to suggest a song.

I can’t wait to see what you come up with. Thanks in advance.

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