The Music of Running: Vol. 1

Music and Running: two of my passions in life.   It has, therefore, become a habit for me to attempt to combine the two.  Why not?  After all, Seinfeld’s George Costanza liked to combine his passion for pastrami with, well, you know.

Sometimes music is needed during a run; sometimes it is not.   In fact, sometimes the quiet is better.   I limit the use of the IPOD to one run per week, but when I am in the mood, the combination of the music and running is everything I need in life.  Both activities can be enhanced with the combination of the two.  George Costanza was no runner, but he would approve of this logic.

The following are some songs and song quotes I have collected over the years.   Some are great running songs.   Some songs just have good inspirational running associations for me.  Others have inspired some of my writing themes.  This is the first installment of “The Music of Running.”  It is the back-story to my other writing.

The only thing I’ll ever ask of you, you’ve got to promise not to stop when I say when.“ – Everlong by Foo Fighters

The theme?  It’s about wanting something good to last.  This is possibly the one song that will hold up forever for me as a running song.   When we run, there is a cadence, and this song mimics the cadence (no matter what the pace).   It starts slow, but builds into a metronomic sound that is one with a runner’s stride.  I try to listen to this song closer toward the end of a run because if I hear it too soon, I go out too hard.

The road has got me hypnotized,and I’m speeding into a new sunrise!  – Radar Love by Golden Earring

This is my wife’s favorite running song.   A few reasons: 1) It builds itself up, so if it takes your body a little time to warm up, the timing within the song might be a good match for you, 2) It occupies you for over six minutes (6:27), and 3) Depending on your stride, its pace is sometimes synced to your own.  It’s about driving but it makes you want to run further and faster.

My mind is open wide and now I’m ready to start” – Ready to Start by Arcade Fire

This song has come to be hummed by my inner voice just before a run or the at the starting line of the few races I have done this year.  Thinking about racing, it is so difficult not to be amped up just before the start.  It’s even hard to swallow.  Sometimes hearing a familiar song just before a race can be calming, and help with focus.

If you don’t run you rust.” – Big Weekend by Tom Petty

Self-explanatory.  Plus, my wife and I live by this:  When you stop working out, you lose your fitness and vibrancy. Gotta keep on going.   Also, the song title and theme focus on a weekend road trip.  Let’s face it, the races to which we travel are part of a “Big Weekend.”

Run…and don’t look back.“   – A Sort of Homecoming by U2

U2 is the sentimental link to my childhood, and this song slowly builds and sustains me during a run.   There are plenty of other U2 songs I could write about, but this will be their first song I will mention.  Once in a while, I’ll catch myself looking back to my younger days when a U2 song is played, but you can’t do that too often.  Sort of like you shouldn’t look behind you too much during a race!

Believe in me, help me believe in anything. I want to be someone who believes.“ – Mr. Jones by Counting Crows

This song does not jump out as a running song; however, it was played at the halfway point of the 2008 Philadelphia Marathon, and it totally inspired my friend Jeff and I.  I was helping him finish his first marathon, and Mr. Jones helped us out along the way.   Those “short yet lasting” interactions I sometimes write about can be applied to a song overheard during a race too.  Three years later, Mr. Jones is still there.

I’ve got to keep going be strong, Must be so determined and push myself on.” – The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner by Iron Maiden

This one is not for the faint of heart.  It is a song that used to get much play on the “Walkman” at high school track meets, and it holds up today.  It is 6:31 of built up intensity.  By the time it nears the end, you will be out of breath and running faster.  This tune should not be played on “recovery day” or during a cool down

Is it really all that much to lug around? Better run like hell when you hit the ground.” – This Too Shall Pass by OK Go

The theme of this song is helpful during a run, especially when struggling.   Let’s face it, we’ve all had tough moments, either in races or workouts, and these moments pass.  For me, this song is also symbolic because I listened to it a lot when my father-in-law was diagnosed with cancer.   I kept repeating “This too shall pass” and it did pass….he is cancer-free (knock-on-wood).

Courageous just like the Captain, marching forward with no doubt in his head.” – The Captain by Guster

This is another song about forging on during tough, uncertain moments.  To me, it’s about taking a leap of faith, whether in yourself or others.  Sometimes you need to trust your own running instincts, and not what the countless experts say.  Sometimes you need to be “The Captain.”

And in this perfect weather, we’ll find a place together…Fly on my wing” – The Zephyr Song by Red Hot Chili Peppers

The melodic sounds of this song are a good match for a run on a beautiful day, or any day for that matter. If it is possible for a song to make you feel “lighter,” this is the song.  It helps you feel as if you are running two inches above the ground.  This particular tune helps me focus on the gorgeous settings for some of my runs.  It reminds me how lucky I am to be a runner.

Something strange do you know what I mean?   Something’s upside-down.  When the wrong people never go away and the one’s you connect with, cherish every second, they are here and gone forever….” – Celeste by Huffamoose

This is not a running song but this quote pops into my head when I think about the short yet lasting interactions runners sometimes have with each other.   These interactions are here and gone, but not forgotten.

I think people can be perfect …when they do not think about it…I think people can be perfect.”

For hours and hours…run from the evening…run with the water…from debris, you and me…

Both quotes – From Debris by Matt Pond PA

This is a great song by a talented band from Philadelphia.  The pulsing drums alone will get you going; however, digging deeper, the song is perhaps about being ourselves.   When I run, I feel like myself.   There is nothing to think about, and the act of running feels perfect.

Like any Playlist, that is it for now.   Coming Soon: Volume 2.  The second installment will include more songs and song quotes, but I will also explain why sometimes a slower song can be a good for running too.  I might even discuss why Mr. Spock could have been a good runner.

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