December 13, 2012

The Music That Makes Me Run

At Saturday’s Rehoboth Seashore Marathon, I pulled out my phone at mile 23 to put on a song that would simultaneously distract us and inspire us to make us run faster: Fun’s “Some Nights.” I am obsessed with this song, and it honestly just makes me so happy whenever I hear it. I love the harmonious voices at the beginning (which remind me of another favorite song, Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek”), the gorgeous melody, and the tribal-sounding drums as the chorus picks up.

When I played “Some Nights” at Saturday’s marathon as we ran down the wooded trail, I got totally into it. Ericka, Steph and I all picked up our pace – and when the 4:37 second song ended, we found that we had covered more than half a mile. Involuntarily, we had sped up to run at an 8:20 pace (unbelievable for mile 23 of a marathon when we had been averaging about 9:40/mile beforehand) – and we all still felt great. That’s the power of music!

For yesterday’s 6am Flywheel class, my favorite instructor decided to shake things up for the arm segment. The Flywheel armwork song is usually about 3 minutes long, but he warned us that today’s was going to be a long one – and he put on Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror.” It took a minute for me to get past the introduction until I recognized the song and realized what was going on. But “Take a look at yourself/And make that change”? BEST WORKOUT LYRICS EVER! I got so excited… and I ended up powering through the entire song without pausing or putting the weights down. Considering that I normally am dying by the end of a regular 3 minute song with the Flywheel weights routine, I was thrilled!

And after the arm segment? I couldn’t believe my luck when “Some Nights” came pouring out the speakers just as we started ascending our last hill. I was so visibly psyched to hear that song that Mark even commented on the microphone “wow, someone’s excited!” You bet I was! We cranked the torq up to 30 (and then 35), and when it came to the “push” parts where we tried to go as fast as possible, Mark suggested aiming for 65 RPMs as a target. But caught up in the song, I found myself pushing 85 RPMs… and loving every second of it. It was the end of a tough class (I had actually hit my highest speed ever at the beginning of the workout), but that song just revived me until I could do so much more than I normally would have thought possible.

Last year, Greatist did a really interesting article on how music can help athletes to increase speed and also distance themselves from the pain/discomfort of exertion. It featured results from a study where cyclists listened to music during the first half of their ride, during the second half of their ride, and not at all. While you might think the point at which they listened wouldn’t matter, listening to music in the second half actually improved performance more than in the first half – indicating that perhaps music’s value add is greater when we’re already tired. (Oh gosh, “value add? You can tell I’ve been working too many hours lately.)

However, I have to say that I disagree with one of the points in the Greatist article: that you have to choose fast music to see a difference. In fact, there are many songs on my “power songs” playlist that don’t have a particularly fast beat, but still manage to inspire me to push myself. I wrote a half marathon playlist a long time ago that shared some of these songs, but I’ve certainly discovered a lot of new ones in the last few years! In no particular order, here are a few of the top motivational songs I’ve added to that list:

Fun – “Some Nights”
Britney Spears – “Gimme More”
Rascal Flatts – “Feels Like Today”, “Unstoppable”
Jack’s Mannequin – “The Resolution”
Miley Cyrus – “The Climb”
Jon Schmidt – “Love Story Meets Viva La Vida”
Philip Phillips – “Home”
Gloriana – “Wild At Heart”

Do you listen to music while you work out? What are your absolute favorites that make you work it harder/better/faster/stronger? 🙂


2 thoughts on “The Music That Makes Me Run”

  1. The song that’s been on my must-have running playlist for like 3 years is Club Can’t Handle Me by Flo-Rida. I don’t know why, it’s just really good to run to.

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