Songs For Your Recovery Run…

(For the runs in which you leave your watch at home).

Here are 51 songs for a recovery run, a cool down or for after you’re done.  These songs will help you get lost in the moments of a relaxing run, or they will help you shed your intensity after a tough workout…

1.  Nothing Left to Lose by Matt Kearney

2.  In a Daydream by The Freddy Jones Band

3.  New Hampshire by Matt Pond PA

4.  See the World by Gomez

5.  Holocene by Bon Iver

6.  Kingdom of Rust by Doves

7.  Paradise Cove by Pete Yorn

8.  California Stars by Billy Bragg & Wilco

9.  Have a Nice Day by Stereophonics

10. Just Breathe by Pearl Jam

11. Run Run Run by Phoenix

12. Half Moon by Blind Pilot

13. Summer Skin by Death Cab for Cutie

14. Good to Sea by Pinback

15. Wonderful (The Way I Feel) by My Morning Jacket

16. Let Your Troubles Roll By by Carbon Leaf

17. Champagne Supernova by Oasis (See also Matt Pond PA)

18. Time Is A Runaway by The Alternate Routes

19. Concrete Sky by Beth Orten

20. Better Together by Jack Johnson

21. In the Morning of the Magicians by The Flaming Lips

22. On My Way Back Home by Band of Horses

23. Satellite by Guster

24. Valley Winter Song by Fountains of Wayne

25. Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby by Counting Crows

26. Fire Away by Dawes

27. Lost In My Mind by The Head and the Heart

28. Rise by Eddie Vedder

29. All My Days by Alexi Murdock

30. Nuclear by Ryan Adams

31. Middle Distance Runner by Seawolf

32. Life In A Northern Town by The Dream Academy

33. The Finish Line by Train

34. Lucky Man by The Verve

35. Eyes by Rogue Wave

36. Chicago by Sufjan Stevens

37. Head Home by Midlake

38. The Only Living Boy In New York by Simon & Garfunkle

39. I’m In Love by Francis Dunnery

40. Light & Day / Reach for the Sun by The Polyphonic Spree

41. Run by Snow Patrol

42. Sailing to Philadelphia by Mark Knopfler

43. Breathe by Wheat

44. Specks by Matt Pond PA

45. Pink Moon by Nick Drake

46. Peace Train by Cat Stevens

47. All Kinds of Time by Fountains of Wayne

48. Sail Away by David Gray

49. Windows Are Rolled Down by Amos Lee

50. Zig Zag by Ben Arnold

51. How to Save a Life by The Fray

8+ MPH

Sometimes a workout defies logic. Before a recent run, I didn’t eat well or prep well. It was slushy. It was rainy. My left foot had been bothering me. Yet, it felt effortless. It was one of those “Breakthrough Runs” I’ve written about in the past (see post from 11/1/11: The Breakthrough Run). I didn’t question it…I just decided to enjoy the moment.

I am starting to think I have turned a corner in the 14-month runner’s rut I’ve also posted about. The motivation is back.  The form is back. The desire to race (at my pace) is back.

Speaking of racing, last week I did the Icicle 10 Miler in Delaware. It was my first non-rabbiting race at that distance in over a year. I was not satisfied with my pace, but it was a decent pace for me in January.  However, I was not satisfied.  This is a key sign for me.

Those of you who know me know how I feel about contentment with running performance.  I’m rarely content with my own performance.  At times, I have not signed up for races because of this attitude.  However, after last week’s race, despite feeling a bit humbled, I’m ready for another one.  I am ready to push it again.  This is a good feeling.  This feeling has not surfaced in a while.

Look, I’m not an elite runner (few are).  Second, I’m not a “Back” or a “Middle” of the pack person either.  I am a “Closer-to-the-front” runner. This can be a wonderful but weird place to be: You don’t usually place or get medals (actually, when you turn 40, sometimes you place in your age group), yet you’re not there “just for the experience or the fun of it” either. You can usually detect such a runner because he or she has a certain intense look to them.

I’m one of those people. I generally run over 8 MPH during a typical training run.  In races, I’m usually in the top 5%. Good but not elite.  Good but not “just happy to be there.” Good but not content if it’s not a PR. It can sometimes be a tough place to be. At that pace, people don’t always look like they’re having fun.  Often, they appear to be dissatisfied.

I’ve run marathons at my slower-than-usual pace to help my wife or a friend achieve a goal.  I like doing this.  I tend to become more observant when I am running slower.  I’ve noticed that people at that different pace are often more talkative, and it seems like they smile more. It seems like most of them are having a blast.

I could be wrong. In fact, I’m sure people are intense and nervous no matter what the pace is, but, for me, I tend to have more vivid memories of the races in which I’ve slowed down my own pace.  Perhaps this is because I’m more relaxed at a slower speed?

Maybe others would have the same experience if they slowed down their own pace?

On the other hand, my memory is mush when I run faster.  When I am running my own pace, my wife will ask me afterward: “Did you see this or see that [famous landmark], etc?” and, to be honest, my answer is almost always “no.”  I usually have my blinders on, and I miss a lot of the scenery. This sometimes saddens me. Before you say: “Hey jerk, you expect me to feel sorry for you?”  No, I don’t expect that.  I’m just asking you to understand what goes through my head.

Why speed it up then?  Trust me, I am always tempted to run at that slower pace, but my competitiveness ultimately gets the better of me.

I’m not sure why I’m telling you this, but I think it’s because, despite the temptation to keep it slower, I’m ready to be faster again. I’m ready to go for it again. I’m ready for that “dissatisfied with my performance” attitude again. I think I’m moving out of Rutville.

Stay tuned.

The Taper Chronicles: Philly Marathon 2011

Blisters or Black Toenails?”   This has become my wife’s dilemma as she chooses between two pairs of sneakers for the actual marathon.  “Do I go with the ones that cause blisters, or should I go with the ones that will result in black toenails?”  This is just one of the many nutty thoughts that go through a runner’s head during The Taper.

The Taper: three weeks of angst, psychosomatic drama, tripping over nothing, nightmares and orthopedic mysteries.   I have decided to chronicle my wife’s taper for the upcoming Philadelphia Marathon.  She won’t be upset with me because if you are reading this, you’ve most likely had similar crazy thoughts and experiences too.

My wife, Jill, went with black toenails, as she concluded would be the lessor of two evils.  Good choice if you ask me; however, the running sneaker choice is the easy part.  What we do to fill the (eternal) three-week period to keep from going crazy is another thing altogether.

During the taper, nothing feels good, not our runs, and not what we normally do (not even what we normally wear).   I believe Jill summed it up at one point: ”Every shoe I put on my feet hurts me.“

Shall I move on to the phantom (or real) pains she has shared with me?  In no particular order:

ITB, shoulder (twice), arm, oh and “electricity” shooting up her leg and back.   It doesn’t end there.

This past weekend, I was sightseeing at Red Rocks while visiting family in Denver.   My wife stayed home for a few reasons, primarily because you just don’t want to tempt fate during the taper and travel.  Just as I was being wowed by the amazing rock formations of the serene environs of Red Rocks, my fourteen year-old stepson calls me from 1600 miles away.  The call went like this:

Me: “Hello?

Ethan:  “G, can you please talk to mom and calm her down?  She is crying about her hip.

Me: “Sure

Jill (crying): “I can’t even run as far as Lou’s house (our neighbor two doors down).”

Me: “Everything will be fine, just take another day off.  You will be fine tomorrow or Monday.”

There were some other words of encouragement, followed by the rest, ice, Aleve pep talk, etc, and the next day she was able to run eight pain-free miles.  Another inexplicable mystery during the Taper.

In addition to navigating the pain concerns, the other issues my wife has experienced can be described as “Tripping Over the Invisible” and a “Weather-Obsession.”

In one case, she actually tripped with no obstacle in sight:  ”I just tripped over nothing.   That sounds about right.

Thankfully, the weather is looking good for the Philadelphia Marathon this weekend; however, my wife won’t fully trust the forecast yet.

Finally, there was “The Nightmare.”  I’m sure you’ve had it too: the one in which you missed the race or went the wrong way on the course.  She had that one four days before the race.

The one consistent question Jill has asked me over the last couple of weeks:

I’m going to be OK, right?

As the supportive husband, the only answer is ”Yes.“

So, the next time you’re in the Taper, try to stay sane and try not to trip over anything, even though, based on our experience, it is mathematically impossible.  No matter how nerve-wracking it has gotten for Jill, I still maintain that she is the toughest runner I know. In fact, I predict a Boston Qualifier for her.  Stay tuned.

“Do I still look like a runner?”

 (Written while in a running rut six months after a PR @ the 2010 Philadelphia Marathon)

I keep thinking of what Steve Prefontaine asked his girlfriend (at least the way it was portrayed in the movie “Prefontaine”):   “Do I still look like a runner?”  Now here was the most famous US runner of his time asking such an insecure question.   Obviously, I’m no “PRE” but I ask my wife Jill this question all the time, especially when I am in a running rut.  Yes, I am lost in Rutville.

Some have asked:  “How the heck can you be in a rut?  You just ran your fastest marathon!!”   The truth is, running can be cyclical.    It is difficult to maintain the same intensity throughout the year, and throughout your “running life.”   There are lots of peaks and valleys.   The peaks are tremendously wonderful, while the valleys are tough to shake.

For me, the valleys have sometimes occurred after an intense period of success.  There were many successes for me last fall (my fastest 5k as an adult, my fastest half marathon, and my fastest marathon). Cue the rut: a cold, harsh winter, a hip injury, a transition in employment….life.   The insecurity settles in, and the question arises again:  “Do I still look like a runner?”  No matter what successes we have as runners, doubt can creep into our consciousness once in a while.

Of course, ruts have also occurred after failures  There was the Bonk during my first marathon, in which I went from having a goal of 3:10 to having a goal of “finishing” to having a goal of simply “surviving.”  Second, while I broke three hours last year, it was my fourth attempt.  There were three failures prior to that.

Failure to achieve a running goal can lead to obsessive doubt.  For me, to continue running after a perceived failure, I had to find some kind of positive in each race in which I failed.  In my “bonk” race, my thought was “Hey at least I finally finished.”   For my failed sub-three hour races, two out of three were PR’s, and for the third race, let’s just say the temperature was above 70 degrees.

So here I am in Rutville.   I know I won’t reside here forever.  It is temporary, and I am not pressuring myself to crank up the intensity yet.   I still run regularly, but I don’t wear my watch during every run.

It has been almost six months since my last race.   I have not gone this long without racing since I ran the Boston Marathon for the first time.  I’ll just chalk that particular rut up to the “Post-Boston Blues.”  After all, many of us tend to think of Boston as the pinnacle running goal.  After that it was “now what?”

As runners, we often need worlds to conquer to stay motivated.  We usually need goals.  Sometimes, in order to remain a runner, we need to be dissatisfied with our performance in some way.  It is a progression that can go something like this: Goal 1: Run a half marathon.  Check.  Now what?  Goal 2: Run a marathon.  Check.  Now what?  Goal 3: Qualify for Boston…Qualify for Boston at Boston…Run a Sub 3-hr marathon…and so on…

This is just one example. The “Now what?” can be different for every runner, but it is a question that keeps us hungry to run.

At times, I think somewhere in-between the peaks and valleys is the place to be.  I’ll call it the gentle “rolling hills” of our running lives.     Maybe it’s better to sometimes have a less-intense race goal; to be able to take off our watches once in a while…and “simply run.”  My friend Bob seems to have this mentality, and I admire it.  He rarely races, but runs almost every day.  He “simply runs.”  My intensity about running is often in conflict with this mentality, but I’ve learned to take a step back once in a while before running forward with the next racing goal.

I hope I will ask myself “Now what?” again soon.  As far as the other question: “Do I still look like a runner?”   Hmm, does it matter?   Maybe the question should be: “Do I still feel like a runner?”

Epilogue (10/1/11):  If you’re ever in a running rut, one possible cure is to attend a race as a spectator.   If you’re not coming out of your skin out of a desire to run the race, maybe you’re not ready yet.   If you are coming out of your skin, maybe it’s time to sign up for a race again.   I was a spectator at my wife’s 5K today, and I was coming out of my skin.  Maybe I will move out of Rutville soon.