Music for Another Run

Before the widespread adoption of mp3 players, I loved making mix CDs (and tapes before that).  A few of my friends probably still have some of the ones that I made for them and vice versa on my end. What amazing little time capsules, they are!  I found one a few months ago that had Finch on it and I hadn’t thought of Finch in years (and it’s probably better that I haven’t).  At any rate, playlists have taken over where the mix CD/tape left off.

When I was on the plane headed to Florida and the Royal Family 5k, I sat and made a playlist for the race.  Most of the time when I was running before that, I’d listen to podcasts (the Joe Rogan Experience and Radiolab being big favorites) or the random album here or there.  Eminem’s Recovery was in regular rotation as well as my other favorite hip hop songs.  Ever since that race, though, I have been on the hunt for good running mix songs.

Today, I present to you what I have so far, and in no particular order because I love shuffle.

Fun side note: “Comeback Kid” was the song I crossed the finish line to in Florida. It holds a special spot in my heart and will hopefully remain my race finishing song.

I’m still hunting for more songs full of motivation and/or good beats. Know any?

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Motivation v1.0

A friend recently asked me about motivation. It’s hard to say one single thing that got me into all of this running and gym time. The gym came partially because of the encouragement from my boyfriend. He has been full of support and knowledge about a lot of things that I had no idea about. For instance, he was the one that finally convinced me that girls don’t bulk out from lifting weights and educated me on why lifting was so important.

I started looking at resources for women’s lifting and came across videos of girls doing 300lb deadlifts. I was so impressed that that became my goal. I wanted to be as awesome and impressive as these girls. The girls were often young, not bulky, but strong. Oh, to be so strong! So I started lifting. I started with basic lifts with the barbell: squat, deadlift, row. I was pretty weak to begin with, so the 45lb bar was enough for me at first. I slowly worked my way up. Three months in, I hit 100lbs and kept adding weight. That was unfortunately when I think I started to get less careful and ended up with my herniated disc.

I had been seriously into my lifting goal. I was working with my trainer once a week and working out besides. I don’t know when I ended up back at the gym after my back injury. It was actually before I was diagnosed with the disc problem. I stopped the gym entirely when I started physical therapy three days a week. I have slowly integrated the gym back in and am regularly back in it, but I will probably never lift heavy like that again.

So my goal of 300lbs was dashed. What next? Somehow running came about. I wish I could remember exactly how it started. I hated cardio. Why do cardio when you can lift things? Lifting was my favorite and the deadlift especially. But then came running. It may have been that I could do much less of the other things at the gym that I just ended up on the treadmill more and more. Someone at my gym suggested the elliptical since it was lower impact all around, but I really hate the elliptical.

I looked up beginning running programs and found Couch-to-5k. The goals associated with that really helped get me going. Every time I got on the treadmill, it was a new challenge and I had a real attainable goal. There are other beginning programs, obviously, and I didn’t stick with c25k the whole time. I really recommend finding something to guide and challenge you like that. Eventually, I decided that I wanted to do a race, so there was another goal!

You may be catching onto something here: goals. I would say that’s the real answer to the motivation question. Lots of people have the goal of losing weight or “toning up,” but those types of goals might not motivate you. While those things are bonuses to what I’m doing (and let me tell you, I totally geek out over how my arms look lifting dumbbells now), I think finding a really attainable goal that you can have measured incremental success at will probably get you on the right track if the general goals don’t work. Lifting weights was something I could see improvement at every time I went in. I could add a little weight or know that I was working toward it. With running, I add new distances and I’m in a competition with myself for other things like speed. Races are a great goal to have since you have something solid to work toward by a deadline. You also have to pay entrance fees and that can motivate you all on its own. No one wants to give away their money.

My other motivation for keeping up with the gym and running is how I feel. Regardless of the extraordinary feeling of doing something you didn’t think you ever would, it feels good. I am 100% more aware of my body and how it works. Something as silly as going up stairs is a strange new experience because now I’m paying attention to the way my knees bend or appreciating how my body can do simple things like that. You might think that after over year in the gym, I’d be seeing crazy results. I’m not. I have maintained almost exactly the same weight since I started working out. I have been told that’s impressive in and of itself. I can tell some differences in my body(arms!) or the way it operates (those stairs!), but it’s not like my motivations are coming from a drastically shrinking waistline.

My advice when you’re searching for motivation: find goals.  Find things you enjoy.  If you don’t like working out or can’t find something you like to do right off, you might have to tough it out like I did with cardio until something just catches right (though you may not all of a sudden love running like I do).  Ultimately, you have to find your own good reasons for doing it and make sure that those reasons will drive you.

A Runner by Any Other Name

“I often hear someone say I’m not a real runner. We are all runners, some just run faster than others. I never met a fake runner.” — Bart Yasso

I successfully did a pace of 12:00/mile for all of about a minute the other day.  This would be the fastest that I have ever run. Ever.  Yesterday, I did 2.03 miles, which is my longest distance.  I’m averaging a pace of about 13:57 through my runs.  Not shabby, but not fast.  The longest time that I have run consecutively so far is five minutes.  And I could only do that once during the entire first day of Week 4 on Couch-to-5k. It asks you to do two runs of five minutes.  I broke up the second run into two different parts.

Five minutes is the longest run I’ve done in my whole life.  It wasn’t fast and it wasn’t easy. Of course, I also felt that way about running three minutes at a time, but that seems like nothing compared to the five! Watching the other people around me running for tens of minutes at a pace much higher than mine could be discouraging.  Sometimes it is.

The title “runner” seems like an achievement. When do you get it?  After your first race?  When you can successfully run for more than five minutes? When your pace reaches a certain level? Or does it start with intention?  The most recent example of this I can think of is Kevin Smith.  He has repeatedly said that he started out as a filmmaker by acting like one first.  So maybe that’s how you become a runner.  You get up every day, you put on your shoes, and you go.  Whether you feel like a runner or not every time, no matter the pace, if you’re behaving as a runner… It’s the old “if it walks like a duck and talks like duck bit,” right? And of course this can apply across the board in your life: to get that promotion, you act like the job you want.  To do anything that requires practice to become, you practice and then you are that thing.  Maybe it sneaks up on you in the middle of the night.

So the quote above has become kind of important.  I’m not fast. I’m not going very far. But I’m going.  Almost every day. That seems like something, maybe even something a runner might do.