Life needs a soundtrack. Especially when you are running.
When out and about in the streets, most runners these days are sporting headphones. Even in races it is more and more becoming the norm (although music is not allowed in official races, the rule is rarely enforced). Just about everyone is hooked up to a music player.
According to an article I read, studies have shown that listening to music while you are running reduces your perception of how hard you are running by around 10%, thus making running feel easier. No one can complain about that happy side effect.
The purists’ argument is that running with music “removes” you from the run: it prevents you from hearing your breathing and foot strike and from focusing on the task at hand. You are less aware of what your body is doing (bunch of masochists, these purists…). A more practical problem is that it makes you more oblivious to your environment (other runners, traffic, opportunistic Jo’burg criminals…), which could have you end up in a dangerous situation when running outside.
I confess that I find it hard to run without music. Depending on where I am running and whether or not I have company, boredom can become an issue (although this is more of problem on a treadmill). I need to have something to take my mind off my complaining body or to give me that extra boost to really kill the run. Participating in triathlons, where race officials still strictly enforce the “no music” rule, I have gotten more used to the idea of running without music. Now I am at least able to have a decent, enjoyable run when the iPod battery dies or some other technical disaster strikes. If given a choice, though, music will most definitely be involved.
What makes a good running song? I’m actually not sure. Anything lively with a quick beat can work, I guess. But I find that some songs that do not fall within the obvious workout music category work incredibly well. And the right music can mean the difference between a decent run and an epic run.
Some songs have a connotation with something that inspires (think of Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger, Rocky Balboa running up the stairs and punching the air victoriously as he reaches the top). Others push you to go harder with a slower, strong beat and angry lyrics (think Metallica or Rammstein). Sometimes in a shuffled playlist you simply get the right song at the right time in your run, having just the right tempo to push you up that hill at a strong but steady pace or kicking you into a sprint on the flat to the finish line.
Here are some of my favourite running songs (in no particular order):
- Faithless – Insomnia
- Limp Bizkit – Rollin’; Break Stuff (dedicated to my favourite clients)
- Kula Shaker – Hush
- Prodigy – Breathe; Smack My Bitch Up; Firestarter (these guys really rock your run)
- Liquido – Narcotic
- Republica – Ready To Go
- Coyote Shivers – Sugar High
- Basshunter – Russia Privjet (horrible Euro dance crap, I know, but it is just so awesome for a workout!)
- Bryan Adams – We’re Gonna Win (this one will get you to the finish line first)
- Enya – Book Of Days (who would have thought that Enya could be on a running playlist)
- Bon Jovi – Lay Your Hands On Me
- My Chemical Romance – Welcome To The Black Parade
- Evanescence – Bring Me To Life
- Apollo 440 – Stop The Rock
- Jan Blohm – Tangerine
- Muse – Supermassive Black Hole
- Queen – Don’t Stop Me Now
- ZZ Top – La Grange
- Bloodhound Gang – Kids in America
- Drowning Pool – Bodies
- Safri Duo – Played-A-Live (The Bongo Song)
- Spiderbait – Black Betty
- Rage Against The Machine – Bullet In The Head
- Billy Idol – White Wedding, Pt. 1
- Muse – Supremacy
Do you run with or without? What are your favourite running songs?