Many runners like to psych up for a race or even a hard work out by listening to music. Some like instrumental music with a driving beat to get them pumped up, other prefer lyrics that inspire them to greatness.
I used to listen to music before every race in high school. I wanted to get as pumped up as possible so I could go out and destroy the competition. When I was a junior, I discovered Van Halen’s 5150 album and the title song “5150” became my anthem. This was before CDs were recordable, so I recorded the song on a tape eight times in a row so I would not have to rewind. If you have never heard this song, go listen to it! The lyrics “always one more, you’re never satisfied” sounded to me like “always WANTING more you’re never satisfied” Then, when the song builds to a full head of steam with, “Going wide, Running Long, Feeling lost, But not for long” I could see myself blasting around the track. That year at our conference meet, I was running the mile. The top three finishers qualify for state, and I was so amped up from this song that I almost can’t contain myself. In fact, I didn’t contain myself. A first lap of 58 seconds at altitude is not a good idea. The second lap of 65 put me through the 800 in 2:03, and I was certainly not going to run a 4:06 that day. The last two laps were pure agony as I held on for 2nd place in 4:26. Not the fastest race of the year, but definitely the most painful, and I blame it all on Van Halen! After that I gave up music before a race but to this day I always have a song in my head while running.
I am the opposite of Tim. I have lived most of my life amped up naturally, so I used to listen to music to calm me down! Before races, I would be so energized I looked for relaxing music to listen to while I visualized the race. As soon as I went out to warm up, I put the music away and I focused my mind on racing.
Now working out is another story. I am not always excited to get a training run in, so music can help. When I am driving to my favorite places to run, I always have the stereo blasting out rock or alternative tunes that work their way into my brain, and keep me company for the entire run. On days where I am injured, or need to do some cross training in the basement on the elliptical or Alter G treadmill, cranking out aggressive music is the only way to alleviate some of the boredom of running inside. For while, when I was hurt, and forced to cross train all the time, I liked the song “Soldier” by Eminem because it was angry and so was I! I could twist the words and meaning in my mind, to represent running rather than what the song is actually about. The chorus
“I’m a soldier, these shoulder’s hold up so much, they won’t budge,
i’ll never fall or fold up,
i’m a soldier,
even if my collar bone’s crush or crumble,
I will never slip or stumble,
i’m a soldier”
spoke to me and motivated me to keep going. So music for me has served different purposes over the years.
So how about you? Do you listen to music before you run? What are the best/worst psych up songs you know? Best lyrics for running? Best beat? Let us know in the comments below.