May 21, 2015

Refresh your running playlist

Heading into your weekend race and need a jam or two to get you through the why-am-i-doing-this-and/or-when-will-this-be-over times? And don't forget the heat and humidity if you live near me. It will be a blasted almost-90-degree day for my Memorial Day trail race. So I will be packing extra fluids for sure. Not that it won't get worse later this summer, but right now my body is still trying to remember what it's like to sweat like a fire hose.

To prep for this race, I've been alternating between skipping weekend long runs to sleep in and hang with my family (this weekend was a total run bust -- but I swear to my coach that I otherwise followed the plan!) and wearing myself completely out with hilly runs in my neighborhood. Now I'm ready to sit back and rest up my legs for race day.

Because this race is basically straight up and straight down a mountain, I'm going to need music to keep me moving up the hills and to make me feel like flying on the way down.

So for my fellow runners seeking musical pain intervention, here are the latest additions to my race playlist.

1. Don't Drop That Thun Thun by Fanatticz. Just like the title suggests, this song doesn't really make any sense, but I heard it in a movie a few weeks ago and could not get it out of my head. The beat is just so dang catchy, and you can basically convince yourself that "thun thun thun" means whatever you want. Like don't drop that trash onto the ground because that's littering especially in the forest, or don't drop that Hammer gel because you need to eat it, or don't drop that hammer (as in fast running) too soon, or don't drop that pace or do because you went out too fast, or don't drop that electrolyte tablet because it's really hot and you already had heat stroke once this century so give it a rest. See what I mean! It means anything and everything just when your weary mind needs it.

2. Cecilia and the Satellite by Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. "If I could fly, then I would know what life looks like from up above and down below." Songs that include nature references just work for me. It's also kind of romantic and stuff, so for you love birds out there, your eyes can gloss over with romantic visions, but not so much that you trip. "For all the things my hands have held, the best by far is you." I mean, get a room.

3. Shake Me Down by Cage the Elephant. When he sings, "I'll keep my eyes fixed on the sun," it's like a rocking motivational banner waving to my weary trail runner soul. And he repeats "not a lot of people left around" about a hundred times. Which could be the anthem for the second loop of every Southeastern Trail Series race. The swinging from calm to angsty energy makes it just like running and worth adding to your list. Also I added their song Cigarette Daydreams to my playlist -- more mellow, but just as lovable.

4. Who Gon Stop Me by Jay Z and Kanye West. If you want a song for soldiering forward when you're in a dark place, this is the one. Like most Kanye songs (or just Kanye in general), there are some controversial lyric choices, but, dang, it helps me march on when I'm feeling low.

5. Get Low by Dillon Francis and DJ Snake. For when you need to get in a rhythm with running. It literally says the same thing over and over and over again. No need to think when this song comes over the headphones. It's freaking addictive and also perfect for impromptu dance parties -- on sidewalks, in parking lots, in your living room, while cooking, all around your room while your husband is trying to go to sleep (that may or may not have just now happened).

6. Fire It Up by Modest Mouse. Besides the fact that they sing "fire it up" again and again, which is my favorite, it also includes the made-up word etceteraenough. I support made-up words when they are sandwiched between sweet guitar riffs. But mostly it's just a chill song that makes running through the trees feel magical.

7. GDFR by Flo Rida. Pretty much the opposite of the chillness of Fire It Up, but perfect for when you want to buckle down and get your serious race mojo on. I'm sure they don't mean running when they say "it's goin' down for real," ahem. But I made it that in my mind. "I know what you came here to do [run, right?]. Now bust it open let me see you get loose [as in loose because otherwise you will hurt yourself running so fast down a hill]." See, pretty much all about running.

8. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Part 1 by The Flaming Lips. Back to chillness. See how that works with alternating hype and chill songs for race day balance. This song just makes me laugh because it's all about a girl who fights evil robots. So +1 for girl power and +1 for robot battles. "She's gotta be strong to fight them, so she's taking lots of vitamins. Cause she knows that it'd be tragic if those evil robots win. I know she can beat them." All with perfect space-agey electronic beats. 

9. Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars. This song always makes me smile because of the memory of a bunch of kids at my gym who flash mobbed to it. Right in the middle of the night-rush-packed weight room. Is it super cheesy? Of course! But it is totally addictive with an awesome beat. If you hear this song and don't dance spontaneously, you might as well go home, wrap yourself up in your Snuggy, tune in to a Netflix marathon of Melrose Place, and fart yourself to sleep. Wait, that actually sounds like something I might do after the race on Saturday. Everyone on the internet, look away -- nothing to see here. 

10. I Bet My Life by Imagine Dragons. I am in love with songs that alternate between slow and easy and rock-splosion. If you've heard this song you know what I mean. If not, listen now. 

11. Come Get It Bae by Pharrell Williams. Nothing in this song can even pretend to relate to running or enduring pain, unless you count standing around acting seductive as an endurance sport. It probably is hard. That's what she said. Oh, and the song has a great tempo. Or something like that. 

12. I Lived by OneRepublic. Ok, back to a song that may actually have lyrical ties to running and the pursuit of happiness (instead of just pursuit of Pharrell -- not that that's bad, if you're into it). And, yes, the song. These are the lyrics that speak to me. "I owned every second that this world could give. I saw so many places, the things that I did. With every broken bone, I swear I lived." Ahhh, it just screams, go out to the woods and run until you can't stand up anymore! But dang, it kind of bothers me that they don't separate One from Republic with a space in their band name. Can we just agree that those two words would be better off separated? Like Al and Tipper. 

13. Riptide by Vance Joy. Another fun, happy, loving-life song. Nothing deep or mysterious here. Moving right along. 

14. Needing/Getting by OK Go. Just this song. I love it so much and listen to it about 100 times a day, so it just makes sense that it would be on my running playlist. "Needing is one thing, and getting, getting's another." 

15. Rolling by Soul Coughing. I had to reach way back into the vault for this one. This song is older than all of my children. Possibly all of them added together. But it is also the perfect hill descent song. Perfect as in a couple of steps below Jesus. There is no way to slow-boat it down a hill with Mike Doughty's "i'm rollin', i'm rollin', i'm rollin', i'm rollin' now" in your eardrum. "I've gotta slip it up until the rush gets gone. I've gotta feel it with the hot mind on now." I can't promise much on this blog, like entertainment value or factual information. But I promise that this song will turn you into Kilian Jornet on the your next descent. 

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So do you prefer slow chill beats or dance-y funk beats for your running jams? Gotta go with a mix on that one. To match the highs and lows of racing.  

What percentage of songs on your current running playlist are from the 90s? I'm going with 15% because of the Beastie Boys. 

And just a public service announcement that everyone should watch What We Do in the Shadows.