Runner’s High: 8 Songs That Prove Tom Petty is a Runner

Tom Petty is a runner. I don’t care what you say.

I know he wants to “…get to the point” and “…roll another joint,” and he talks of dancing with Mary Jane, but if you dig into his song list, he might just be a runner at heart.  The following songs suggest Tom Petty is one of us runners.

1.    Runnin’ Down a Dream – I will just get the obvious song out of the way.  This is all about freedom and speed:

Trees flew by, me and Del were singin’ little Runaway, I was flyin.”

I felt so good like anything was possible, I hit cruise control…”

While it is a driving song, this will get you running.  Let’s face it, when we are running, we do feel that anything is possible, and Mr. Petty might have some insight into this.  Then again, the same feeling might apply to getting high (I would not know anymore).

2.    Saving Grace – This song is about finding oneself and finding redemption.  Is this not a perfect theme for runners, especially while trying to get over a bad race?  Also, do we not problem solve and work out our daily issues while on the run?  If we don’t do this, at least we get some temporary peace from our daily issues while running.

And it’s hard to say who you are these days, but you run on anyway. Don’t you baby?

You keep running for another place to find that saving grace…”

This is about moving forward, and not stagnating.  We are always looking to improve as runners, and perhaps Tom Petty knows something about PRs.

3.    Running Man’s Bible – This song is about tough times and weathering the storm.  We have all been there during a race. You know that moment in a race or during a workout when you think about giving up but somehow you don’t?

Here’s one to glory

And survival

And stayin’ alive

It’s the runnin’ man’s bible

I don’t speak of the times I nearly died

Sometimes running and racing is a war of attrition, and usually this war is fought against ourselves, our mind vs. our body.  Sure, we sometimes size up other runners at the starting line, but at the end of the day we are truly racing ourselves.

4.    I Won’t Back Down – This song is simply about Badassery.  You can throw anything you want at Mr. Petty, but he will surely stand his ground.  Life sometimes throws curveballs at us, but we adjust, learn a lesson here and there and move on (hopefully).  This also applies to running. Inevitably, there will be a new situation, perhaps during a race that will catch us off guard. It could be a downpour at Mile 5 of a marathon, or bad cramping on a hot day.  This is when we learn about ourselves and how we react in such situations.

5.    Big Weekend – This song is simple: Road trip and weekend fun, and hey, race weekends are big weekends, aren’t they?  Mr. Petty’s attitude in this song is to live in the moment…a use it or lose it mentality…

If you don’t run you rust”

I don’t know about you, but I want to run over a lifetime, and Tom seems to have a point here. Do it as long as you can.  Once you stop, bad things happen.

6.    All You Can Carry – This is about moving on. As runners, we sometimes have trouble moving on. We analyze our races to death, even the good ones.  We are never 100% satisfied.  Well, Tom is telling us to lighten up…not necessarily to lighten our loads…but to move on…

“Take what you can

All you can carry

Take what you can

And leave the thoughts behind

We got to run

Sage advice from someone that could get away with this look:


Remember this video?

7.    American Girl – Come on, can’t you see Tom Petty running out on Route 441 down in his home state of Florida?  Well, maybe not, but perhaps his old girlfriend did, you know…the one raised on promises?

After all it was a great big world

With lots of places to run to

And if she had to die tryin’

She had one little promise she was gonna keep

So, if you know what this song is really about, you’re rolling your eyes right now (or you suddenly want to watch Fast Times at Ridgemont High).

8.    Walls – This one is a stretch but bear with me.  Often, I will describe my runs as either “diamonds” or “rocks,” depending on whether they are good or bad.  Well, this is exactly how Mr. Petty opens this song.  Okay, this is a love song, but it is about endurance and patiently waiting.  Mr. Petty is not writing about the walls we may encounter during a race, but he is taking about holding out for something to believe in…sounds like a distance runner’s mentality to me.

So if you think Tom Petty is singing about the munchies, you might want to dig deeper. Perhaps he is simply fueling up for his next race.  Maybe he’s been talking about Runner’s High all along.


Maybe he is a trail runner?

Top Crying Moments from the 2014 Boston Marathon

 I’m an unapologetic crier.  I’ve said this before.  So, in heading back to Boston to get some closure after last year’s tragic events, I knew tears would be included; however, triggers from something traumatic are strange: You don’t know they are going to be triggers until you start crying, and I’m talking crying out of nowhere.

I cried when we ascended from the T subway and walked toward the finish line, literally moments after arriving in Boston on the Saturday before the race. Plus, my heart rate shot up which threw me for a loop.  PTSD is a real thing.  I can’t imagine what soldiers must go through on a daily basis.  The finish line area was packed with people taking photos the whole weekend which was nice to see.

I cried when Boston by Augustana came on my playlist. Also, It’s Time by Imagine Dragons and Homecoming King by Guster…these songs will always make me cry now, and that’s ok.

I cried during my shakeout run when passing the church which ended up being the makeshift meeting place for catching up with my wife after the bombings last year.

I cried at Easter mass then the priest (who was awesome) asked Boston Marathon runners to stand up. He said a prayer for the runners and the congregation gave all of us a long round of applause.  Tears.

I cried while in line for the Porto-John in the Athlete’s Village during the moment of silence for last year’s victims…thousands of people in Hopkinton, and you could hear a pin drop. This makes me cry as I type this (true).

I cried just before the Start during the National Anthem and Flyover.  National pride and remembrance were collectively swelling in Hopkinton, and throughout the race route.  The crowd support was indescribable. I will never forget the collective spirit of the day.

I cried during the race when I saw a sign that said: “Thank you for coming back!”  and, yes I laughed when I saw a sign that said “No Time for Walken” complete with a photo of the quirky actor.  I needed that laugh.

I cried when I saw my brother, who surprised me with his visit, near the Newton Fire Station (Mile 17ish).  I hugged him, and I warned him that my hamstring was shot and not to worry…I’d just be running the rest of the race slower.  I had one working hamstring, but I still had two legs.  I was reminded this as I passed a runner with a prosthetic leg.  I briefly wondered to myself if that was one of the bombing victims or perhaps a soldier.

And, yes, I cried the whole way down Boylston Street (I always do), and I mean a full on blubbering cry this time. Ahead of time, I planned to run straight down the middle of Boylston Street to take it all in (and I thought I’d feel safer in that space); however, I impulsively went all the way to the left side of the street (the side of the bombings).  I turned to the crowd, put my hand on my heart as I passed the two bombing sites, reflected and remembered. I thought of Martin Richard, who will never turn nine years old. Then, I headed to the finish line because that is always the goal: to finish

Yes, extra hydration was required Boston Marathon weekend.


 Down one hamstring at Mile 17

Your Autumn Running Playlist

Fall arrives Sunday!! Oh Autumn, we love you.  Let’s face it, this is the best time of year to run. To aid in this wonderful time, I’ve compiled a playlist of autumn running songs.  Can you help me add a few?

1. Go Where the Leaves Go by Matt Pond

2. Mr. November by The National

3. In the Wind by Lord Huron

4. Autumn Sweater by Yo La Tengo

5. Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground by The White Stripes

6. Autumn Almanac by The Kinks

7. November Days by The Origin

8. Indian Summer Sky by U2


9. September by Earth, Wind & Fire

10. Summer’s End by Foo Fighters

11. October by deadmau5

12. Forever Autumn by The Moody Blues

The Worst Running Playlist

The Crime: Returning a borrowed Garmin with no charge left.

The Vic: This happened recently to someone I follow on Twitter (@RunnersWit).

The Punishment: The Vic decided that one potential punishment could be to replace the offender’s existing running playlist with the following song on repeat:

Baby by Justin Bieber ft. Ludacris

I admit, I’m out of the pop music loop, but I know enough to understand that Justin Bieber elicits a strong reaction (either very positive or very negative).  So, this seemed like a fun punishment to me.

A couple of us chimed in with additional songs to add to the punishment playlist:

Friday by Rebecca Black

Why? Autotune Autotune Autotune…that’s why.  That will teach the offender!!

We Built This City by Starship  

Why? This was the beginning of the end for a legendary band that might have embraced 1980s technology a bit too much.  “Marconi plays the mambo???”


I went on to add some of my own songs:

Rockstar by Nickelback

Why?  You know why.

My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion

Why?  Because this song will make the offender wish he or she was ON the Titanic.

Hangin’ Tough by New Kids On The Block

Why?  Because there’s nothing tough about this song.

What songs would you add to punish someone for crimes against running?

Top 26 Running Songs by U2

The Joshua Tree vs. Achtung Baby debate inspired me to put together a U2 Running Playlist.  Each of these albums contributes three songs to the playlist.  I didn’t number them because I did not want to imply a rank…

I Will Follow

Beautiful Day

Bullet the Blue Sky

The Unforgettable Fire

Ultraviolet (Light My Way)

Electric Co (Live)


City of Blinding Lights

Where the Streets Have No Name



A Day Without Me

Walk On

Pride (In the Name of Love)

The Fly


New Year’s Day



One Tree Hill

Even Better than the Real Thing

Get On Your Boots


A Sort of Homecoming

Sunday Bloody Sunday (Live)

Two Hearts Beat as One

This list will be debated, and that is great.  Lists were meant to be debated. My response is always this:  Sometimes a great song is not a great running song, and sometimes a lesser song is a better running song.

For example, “Bad” is a great song, but it JUST missed my Top 26.  On the other hand, Discotheque is not U2’s proudest moment, but it’s very run-worthy.


Notes: During the Joshua Tree vs. Achtung Baby debate, someone mentioned “Running to Stand Still” as a great recovery running song. I agree with this, and that is the magic of music: A song about drug addiction can be healing and great for recovery. 

Movie / Musical Pump-Up Mix

Recently, my wife and I saw Wicked on Broadway, and one of the songs from the play stuck with me.  It was called “Defying Gravity.”  It is one of those inspiring songs that hit me hard on many levels.  It got me thinking: “I wonder what kind of running song this would be?”  My next thought was of songs from movies / plays that might be worth grouping into a fun running playlist.

I even asked people on The Music of Running Facebook page what some of their favorite inspirational movie / musical songs were.  I have combined their favorites with some of mine.  Here is the list:

1. Chariots of Fire by Vangelis  (Movie: Chariots of Fire)

2. Edge of a Dream by Joe Cocker (Movie: Teachers)

3. Defying Gravity by Idina Menzel & Kristin Chenoweth (Musical: Wicked)

4. Lose Yourself by Eminem (Movie: 8 Mile)

5. Rocky Theme (Gonna Fly Now) by Bill Conti (Movie: Rocky)

6. Only the Young by Journey (Movie: Vision Quest)

7. Ass Kickin Fat Kid by Titannica (Movie: Run Ronnie Run)

8. I Melt With You by Modern English (Movie: Valley Girl)

9. Running 2 by Tykwer /Klimek/Heil (Movie: Run Lola Run!)


10. Get off My Back by Bryan Adams (Movie: Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron)

11. Hearts on Fire by John Cafferty (Movie: Rocky IV)

12. Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen (Movie: Shaun Of The Dead)

13. Eyes Wide Open by Taylor Swift (Movie: The Hunger Games)

14. Thunderstruck by AC/DC (Movie: The Longest Yard)

15. State of Love and Trust by Pearl Jam (Movie: Singles)

16. Lunatic Fringe by Red Rider (Movie: Vision Quest)

17. Good Times by INXS featuring Jimmy Barnes (Movie: The Lost Boys)

18. Going the Distance by Bill Conti (Rocky)

19. Let’s Go Crazy by Prince & the Revolution (Movie: Purple Rain)

20. Desire (Come and Get It) by Gene Loves Jezebel (Movie: She’s Having a Baby)

21. I’ll Make a Man Out of You by Donnie Osmond (Movie: Mulan)

22. Crash by The Primitives (Movie: Dumb and Dumber)

23. Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me by U2 (Movie: Batman Forever)

24. (You Made Me) The Thief of Your Heart by Sinead O’Connor (Movie: In the Name of the Father)

25. In the Air Tonight by Nonpoint (Movie:  Miami Vice)

I’m sure I’ve missed some (Confession: these are mostly from movies because I am not a Broadway expert by any means), so feel free to send me your suggestions.

Enjoy the running, and enjoy the music!

Dear Running Playlist…

We need to talk.

Seven-plus months.  That’s how long it’s been since our last running date together. It all changes this Sunday when we are reunited again.  So much has changed since I last ran with you…I’m feeling a bit awkward about it.  We haven’t spoken in forever.

If I’m going on my first running date with you in a long time, I can’t just approach it the same as the other dates we’ve had in the past; I’m going to need a new playlist.

Hmm. How do I update my current playlist without offending your tracks?

Let’s face it, the honeymoon phase is over for a lot of our songs.  Our relationship has gotten a bit stale. While your songs have all been wonderful to me, I need to freshen things up.  Don’t worry Foo, you’re still special to me, it’s just, I might need a newer song from you. Bridges Burning? Maybe.

And, I love you Metallica, but I don’t always need my runs to be so intense. You’re always getting me to speed up, which I like, but not always.

Oh Muse, you’re nice but your new stuff is a bit needy. I like the old you better.  Maybe some of those tracks can stick around?

Running Playlist, I’m not asking you to completely change. I mean, Peace Frog by The Doors can stay, and Radar Love by Golden Earring will always be there for me; however, sorry Van Halen, it’s over for you…for now.  Let’s take a break, ok?  There’s a newer song in town from Younglood Hawke called “We Come Running” and I’m curious about it.

Liz Phair, we’ll always have “Baby Got Going,” but I’ve been checking out Grace Potter lately.  She is the Lion, the Beast AND the Beat. I can’t ignore her any longer.

Matt Pond?  You get to stay, even though you have dropped the “PA” from your band name.  Your music is consistently wonderful.

The truth is, I have changed a lot since we last ran together. I hope you will change too. Don’t be scared, we can still reminisce once in a while with an 80s hit like “Run Run Away” from Slade.  Those were good times for us weren’t they?  They produced good running times too.

However, if we are going to make this thing work, I need something new, something fun and I don’t mean Some Nights by Fun.  I just can’t do it.

I hope you understand.  See you on Sunday.




Run Long and Prosper: Mister Spock Denconstructed

Smashing through the boundaries, lunacy has found me, cannot stop the battery.” – Battery by Metallica

This song makes me think of Mister Spock from Star Trek.   “Why?” you ask me as if I have two heads.   Because Spock did not appear to worry one way or the other about too much.  It was almost as if he was a machine, powered by a battery.   Cue Metallica.

I explained the above-quote in an old post, but I felt that Mister Spock or “Spock Mode” needed to be further explained.

During a long run with my wife, I tried to describe to her what it is like to train for and run a marathon in an attempt to qualify for Boston.   I did this because, at the time, she was attempting to qualify for Boston herself.  I told her that you can’t get too high or too low emotionally during the training or the race.

You can’t worry about the weather or your belly.   You can’t retreat during the tough moments of nearly four months of training.  You especially can’t retreat during the tough moments of the 26.2 mile stretch, and yes, expect there will be a few of those moments.   I told her, you almost shouldn’t care one way or the other about a potential obstacle.  Obstacles will be always be there. The key is moving past them without expending much mental energy.

I am not suggesting to run without passion. After all, Spock’s mixed human-Vulcan  heritage allowed him to show yet control his emotions.  I am simply encouraging runners to attempt to be “emotionally detached” from roadblocks or obstacles.  This prevents or limits panic. It’s about energy conservation.

So, during that long run, I actually told my wife she needed to be like Mister Spock.  Highly Illogical?  I think not.  She qualified. She is now a disciple of Mister Spock.  Furthermore, if you read the quote on her Road ID, it will remind you that she is in “Mister Spock Mode.”

“Spock Mode” doesn’t have to be limited to a BQ goal.  Actually, the goal can be anything: Your first 5k, a Half PR, an Ultra, returning from an injury, etc.

John Gorka, a singer-songwriter from New Jersey, wrote a song about his home state and accurately described New Jerseyans; however, the following line from the song is more consistent with my point:

“…If the world ended today, I would adjust.”

This is related to the Spock mentality.  We have goals, and inevitably, something will challenge or get in the way of our goals.

The key is to “move on” from the moment…


Run long and prosper

Aliens, Cowboys & a Sled: A Holiday Running Mix

As I was updating my Holiday Playlist, I realized some of the songs would be fun for running.  So, I extracted many from my collection, and the result is a festive holiday running mix.  Enjoy, and Happy Holidays!

1. I Want An Alien For Christmas by Fountains of Wayne

2. Father Christmas by The Kinks

3. The Cowboys’ Christmas Ball by The Killers

4. Holiday by Vampire Weekend

5. Snow Day by matt pond PA

6. Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses

7. New York is a Christmas Kind of Town by Marah

8. Wonderful Christmastime by The Shins

9. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) by U2

10. Frosty the Snowman by The Ventures

11. Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree by The Smithereens

12. Santa Claus is Coming to Town (Live) by Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band

13. The Christmas Can-Can by Straight No Chaser

14, Tiny Tree Christmas by Guster

15. We Wish You a Merry Christmas by Weezer

16. Holly Jolly Christmas by Old 97s

17. I Want You For Christmas by Cheap Trick

18. Christmas Baby by G Love

19. Lonely Christmas Eve by Ben Folds

20. Christmas in Hollis by RUN DMC

21. A Great Big Sled by The Killers

22. Another Christmas Song by Stephen Colbert

23. Christmas / Sarajevo 12/24 by Trans-Siberian Orchestra

24. Run Run Rudolph by Bryan Adams

25. Carol of the Bells by August Burns Red

Animal Mix: A New Running Playlist

With apologies to Whitesnake and Ratt fans… 

Lately, I’ve found myself gravitating to bands with animal names.  This inspired me to put together a different kind of running mix for you.  Here is my Animal Mix:

1. Middle Distance Runner by Sea Wolf

2. Marathon Runner by Yellow Ostrich

3. Knock Knock by Band of Horses

4. Radioactive by Imagine Dragons

5. Joker & the Thief by Wolfmother

6. These Days by Dr. Dog

7. Hey Man (Now You’re Really Living) by Eels

8. Mr. Jones by Counting Crows

9. Hannah by Freelance Whales

10. Yet Again by Grizzly Bear

11. Backwards Down the Number Line by Phish

12. D is For Dangerous by Arctic Monkeys

13. Ragged Wood by Fleet Foxes

14. Shooting Star by Owl City

15. Stand and Deliver by Adam & the Ants

16. Eyes on You by Shark Tape

17. Hard to Handle by The Black Crowes

18. It’s a War by Trampled by Turtles

19. Come On, Let’s Go by Los Lobos

20. Fireworks by Animal Collective

21. These Old Shoes by Deer Tick

22. Over Under Sideways Down by The Yardbirds

23. Pachuca Sunrise by Minus the Bear

24. Your Savior by Temple of the Dog

25. In the Meantime by Spacehog

26. War Pigs by Gov’t Mule

27. Feel Good Inc. by Gorillaz

28. Lips Like Sugar by Echo & The Bunnymen

29. Life in the Fast Lane by The Eagles

30. Kingdom of Rust by The Doves

31. Blackout by Scorpions

32. Time by Hootie & the Blowfish

33. Tell Me What You Want by Zebra

34.Don’t Drop the Baby by The JudyBats

35. We Gotta Get Out of this Place by The Animals

If you were hoping to see Cat Power or Fruit Bats on this mix, I apologize; however, I do recommend them for a post-race cool down or for some relaxation time by the fireplace. Also, Iron Butterfly’s “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” crossed my mind, but I do not equate it with running. 

Final Thought (or confession): I love The Beatles, but I don’t run to their music.

Feel free to recommend some additions!  Thank you.