Music has always been a driving force in my life. I could make up some cool story about being a young child and listening to some inspired tunes that shaped the course of my life, but I’m a terrible liar. Guess this is a good thing. My earliest musical memory is sitting in the wooden pews at the First Baptist Church on Sunday nights when the congregation got to request hymns to sing for the service. My sister and I each had our favorites that we would request if we were lucky enough to get selected.
As a teenager, I would spend hours listening to the radio waiting for the DJ to play my favorite song so I could push pause and the cassette would record my selections. I spent nights sleeping on a cold sidewalk outside of the shopping mall, waiting for tickets for my favorite concert to go on sale. I spent hours putting workout tapes together for my aerobics classes I taught, making sure the beat and the moves were perfectly timed. (Think leotards and leg warmers). I can still remember the moves to some of the songs when I hear them to this day.
When I drove solo across the country as a 20 year old newlywed, I made a couple of “Road Trip Tapes” to get me from Denver to Virginia to join my husband. And when I started running in 2011, I knew I would have to have a list of special songs to run to. I don’t know what inspired some of the songs I put on that list, but I remember them getting me through the Beat Beethoven 5k in 2012 . My first running playlist included:
Any Way You Want It by Journey
Set Fire to the Rain by Adele
Sexy Back by Justin Timberlake
Rock this Party by P.O.D.
DuHast by Rammstein
I Like Big Butts by Sir Mix-a-Lot
And it probably didn’t need to be much longer than that for as far as I was running then.
Since then, I’ve made several playlists and they keep getting longer and longer. Some songs keep making the cut, like “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor, but each list has it’s own flavor and feels attached to it. I don’t know how other people feel about their running songs, but I kind of get emotionally attached to them. I analyze them and apply the words of the songs to my life or to running.
Some songs motivate me into thinking that I can do anything I set my mind to – Lose Yourself by Eminem and Right Now by Van Halen. Some make the list solely for the bad-ass component, like Smack My Bitch Up by Prodigy, or Bodies by Drowning Pool. Some are what I refer to as ‘sexy mama’ songs – So Hott by Kid Rock or Fergalicious by Fergie – maybe shallow motivation, but hey, whatever works.
Some songs have a certain person or place attached to them – #Selfie by The Chainsmokers is Brice, 19-2000 Soulchild Remix by The Gorillaz is Chelsea, Dog Days are Over by Florence + The Machine is Christina, Sexy Back by Justin Timberlake is Jolie, and When Worlds Collide by Powerman 5000 is Wayne. But some songs are more than just beat and bad ass. Some of them strike a chord in my heart and soul, like Foreplay/Long Time by Boston, Fight Song by Rachel Platten, and Big Bad Wolf by In This Moment.
If running is my therapy then music is my therapist. It asks me questions and gets the deep thoughts out of the darkness and into the light. It encourages me and reminds me and keeps me focused. It asks me questions and gives me answers. Sometimes it makes me cry and sob and scream at the top of my lungs. It drives me and comforts me and gets me through rough times; it makes me dance and laugh and pick up the pace. My therapist is always available – day or night. There’s no co-pay or any negative side effects. Excuse me, but I have an appointment I need to get to.
What is your favorite running song? Why? I’m always looking for new suggestions.