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Articles & Tips > Music for Running


What's in your iPod?

If you've been a runner for any length of time, and especially if you've made the time commitment to train for a full or half marathon, inevitably you've listened to music on an mp3 player to pass the hours and hours of (let's face it, sometimes dull) training you have to do.

But when it comes to running or athletic training of any kind, not all music is created equal, as we all know. There's types of music that work and types that just don't. I think it probably has something to do with the time signature or the "beat" of the music -- if I knew more about it, I could probably identify whether it's 2/4 time or 4/4 time that is more invigorating and energy-producing for runners, but you get the idea.

The kinds of music that I've always found work best for me are driving, guitar-riff-filled songs that start perhaps a little slow, but accelerate through the opening beats of the song and give me a groove that I can match with my footsteps as I run. While it's tempting to pick a song like AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" (an anthem in sports stadiums everywhere), a song like the Pixies' "Here Comes Your Man" can work just as well if the beat is right for your pace.

There is just one downside to mention when it comes to running while listening to music, however. Running with headphones or with the ubiquitous white iPod earbuds truly does shut out the world around you, leaving you in what medical professionals call a "dissociative" state, which leaves you out of tune with your body as you run. In a sense, when you run with music you don't get a chance to "listen" to your body, so serious runners would be advised to run at least some of the time without music to "hear" what the body is saying.

"Power" songs

That said, I do run with an iPod fairly frequently. And for all the songs that I've downloaded, I keep coming back to the same song lists when I need a pick-me-up to get me going for a training run. Here's my list:
  • "Vertigo," U2
  • "Where The Streets Have No Name," U2
  • "Cinco de Mayo," Liz Phair
  • "Enter Sandman," Metallica
  • "Dancing in September," Earth, Wind & Fire
  • "Thunderstruck," AC/DC
  • "Take Me To The River," Talking Heads
  • "American Idiot," Green Day

I keep thinking that others must have some better suggestions, though -- so what's on your iPod when you run?

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