Everyone seems to always be asking for new music to add to their iPods to get them through a run, so I thought I’d share some of my favorites from my half-marathon playlist. I had a lot more music than just this on there, but these were the ones that really got me going.
Britney Spears – Stronger
“Cause now I’m stronger than yesterday…”
We’ll start off with something pop-y and cliched. This came on as I was approaching mile 10, which was a little more than halfway through the second loop of the course. The longest race I had ever done before was 10 miler, and at the 10 mile mark of the half-marathon I was more than 5 minutes ahead of where I finished in that race! Impressive especially when you consider that I always sprint the last bit for a strong finish, shaving a few seconds off, and I hadn’t sprinted at all in the half-marathon. But what perfect timing – I really was “stronger than yesterday!” This song did make me pick it up a bit, and I remember hopping up onto the curb to pass a few people.
Bonnie Somerville – Winding Road
“Cause it’s a winding road/I’ve been walking for a long time/And I still don’t know where it goes/And it’s a long way home/I’ve been searching for a long time/Still have hope/We’re gonna find our way home.”
This song comes to you from the Garden State soundtrack. Ironically, most of the music on the Garden State soundtrack, including this song, are part of my “sleepytime” playlist because they’re all kind of melodic and peaceful. Hoewver, this song is kind of “powerfully peaceful” if that makes any sense, and it’s uplifting. Not your typical running song, but I like it. It’s good for the beginning of the middle of a race (I don’t know if that made any sense, but like… 1/3 of the way through), where you aren’t dying, but just can use something calming to help you relax and hit your stride.
Daniel Powter – Had A Bad Day
“Cause you had a bad day/You’re taking one down/You sing a sad song just to turn it around”
This one just has some sentimental value for me – I remember it coming on right as I hit the huge uphill in the Boilermaker last summer. It has a really strong beat, and it kind of challenges me a bit. That is, when I hear it, I’m always like “hell no, I am NOT having a bad day… I am going to have a GREAT day because I’m going to run fast and have an AWESOME time.” I’m kind of embarrassed that I just shared my race thinking, but let’s face it, we all think some pretty strange thoughts when we’re in the middle of a long run.
Heather Grant – Proud
“So I step out of the ordinary/I can feel my soul ascending/I am on my way/Can’t stop me now/And you can do the same/…You could be so many people/If you make that break for freedom/What have you done today to make you feel proud?”
This song gives me the chills. First of all, it’s The Biggest Loser theme song, which automatically makes it inspirational to me (I work out while watching TBL a lot, because seeing how hard the contestants work always makes me realize I’m not doing nearly as much as they are). Second, the beginning of the music has this ethereal, lonely quality to it that then picks up and makes you feel like you’re running to a whole gospel choir cheering you on (it’s not gospel at all, but something about it reminds me of that). Plus the lyrics are just awesome. If any song can induce a runner’s high, this one is it for me. I always think of one part of the lyrics as “you could beat so many people if you make that break for freedom,” which makes me attempt to break out of the pack and pass everyone around me. I think this is one of my top running songs.
Mary Chapin Carpenter – Why Walk When You Can Fly
“For the rest of the time that you’re given/Why walk when you can fly?”
This one is really folksy, which makes me think of my mom because she loves that kind of music. It’s also kind of calming, like Winding Road, but more upbeat than that. And come on… the lyrics? Give it all you’ve got baby, you’re only given a certain amount of time to run and to race, so make it count!
Melanie Doane – Bionic
“Never been so strong/Love my six million dollar smile/See how fast I can run/…I’m bionic/I’m supersonic/I am superhuman/I am supernatural”
This has kind of a techno beat to it, which I know is popular with a lot of people for running. I’m not really a techno fan, but the lyrics to this are great and make me really proud of myself, so I love it. It also has some cool reverb-y sound effects that are fun to hear. This is the kind of song that will you make you believe that everyone is admiring how well you can run, and that you don’t look like a huffing and puffing idiot. A good one for the race finish, though I actually have another one that I like to use then, so I used this when I completed the first loop and was going near the finish crowds. Side note: I don’t think I mentioned this in my race report, but everyone at the start was talking about how much it sucks to get lapped by the elite runners because of the double loop. I was dreading it and mentally preparing myself for it… and then I managed to run fast enough that I completed the first loop (7 mile mark) before the elite runners could get there to finish! Just barely, but woohoo, I’m less than twice as slow as them 🙂
OK Go – You’re So Damn Hot
“You’re so damn hot.”
Yeah, I kept the lyric clip short, but that line is really the important part of this one. It’s kind of a punk song (discovered it on The OC… say what you will about how the show went downhill, but it had some really great music), and it has a really strong beat that’s fun to run to. Overall it’s another great song to delude yourself about how awesome you look (at least until you get the race pictures back and learn the truth).
Rascal Flatts – Stand
“You feel like a candle in a hurricane/Just like a picture with a broken frame/Alone and helpless, like you’ve lost your fight/But you’ll be all right, you’ll be all right/Cause when push comes to shove/You taste what you’re made of/You might bend till you break/Cause it’s all you can take/On your knees you look up/Decide you’ve had enough/You get mad, you get strong/Wipe you hands, shake it off/Then you stand/Every time you get up and get back in the race/One more small piece of you starts to fall into place”
I like to make this my second to last song of any race, though it’s also great for uphill segments. Basically anywhere you’re hitting “the wall” (I know I haven’t done a marathon so I haven’t really hit a wall yet, but you know what I mean). Fortunately, mile 12-12.5 was uphill, so it worked perfectly as both an uphill and second to last song. The lyrics are so inspiring, and I love how it starts by talking about how terrible you feel and pointing out that you’ll be all right and you can handle it. I’m actually kind of getting emotional/runner’s high-ish just typing and thinking about these lyrics. Can you tell I cry at the drop of a hat (or at Campbell’s commercials? True story).
Rascal Flatts – Where You Are
“I’m a thirsty man let me drink you in/I am on my way, you’re a mountain top/When I reach for you, your love lifts me up/All that I want to be is where you are”
And now we come to it, my absolute favorite running song of all time. This one has an absolutely fantastic beat, and I know it’s nothing about running but I love to twist the lyrics around to fit my race thinking. “Yeah, I AM thirsty!” “Yeah, this race IS like a mountain top!” “Yeah, all I DO want is to be at the finish.” Cheesy cheesy 🙂 (Though if you really want to talk cheesy, you should run with me and laugh when I get to this one part where the drums suddenly kick in and I always bob my head or drum my hands). The song itself is really fun though, and I think part of why I love it is conditioning. I’ve used it as my final song for several races now, so every time I hear it, it brings back lots of memories of successful sprints to the finish.
What are your favorite race songs? I’m doing the Bronx Half-Marathon in two weeks, so I’m going to need some new material, particularly of the cheesy-lyrics-that-I-can-twist-around-to-running variety 🙂