“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything”
I began exercising regularly in high school, before the days of ipods and iphones. I went to the gym on a regular basis (with my Walkman I might add), but it was in college that I developed a passion for running. Fortunately, I had several very close friends who were into running as well. We trained together for our first marathon, and many more after that. Luckily I was able to continue running with my amazing group of friends for years.
Like many things do, that changed a bit when I had children. Although I still do get to run with them some of the time, I had to run a great deal by myself through the years in order to get my miles in. I wasn’t able to drive and meet my friends anymore during the week and I had to start earlier than most people cared to anyway. So…. my new running partner at times became my music. I have always loved music, but running with it gave me a new appreciation for it. There is nothing in this world that can replace the value of friendship and the truly therapeutic effects that talks with friends can have on you during a run. I wouldn’t be the runner I am today if it weren’t for them. However, I later discovered that for me and my running, music is the closest thing.
Music is so incredibly motivating. It makes running fun, relaxes your mind, and definitely can elevate your mood. I have read numerous articles about the brain’s role in the breakdown a body feels during running. Most experts agree that the brain senses fatigue, even before the body is actually spent. Most also seem to believe this is a way to protect the body from injury or harm. Since music has specific motivational qualities that fight fatigue, it can improve your performance by allowing you to push your physical limits further. So if research shows that our brain controls us physiologically even during exercise, is it mind over matter? I would say absolutely, yes.
Some people say it’s the pace of the song or the beats per minute that stimulate a runner’s mind. While I do believe that, I say it’s also about a chord that a song strikes deep within in an individual. I try to find songs I associate the people in my life that make me want to be better, like my family and my friends. When you make that connection, your mind can take over and you can soar to new heights.
I found this quote by the great author Hunter S. Thompson and I thought it was such a perfect metaphor for running and music.
“Music has always been a matter of Energy to me, a question of fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel. I have always needed Fuel. I am a serious consumer. On some nights I still believe that a car with the gas needle on empty can run about fifty more miles if you have the right music very loud on the radio.”
Isn’t that the truth?! It sounds a lot to me like that dreaded “wall” runners can hit. Music is a powerful force in breaking that wall down. I believe in finding power songs, songs you can play when your fuel is gone and you have miles to go. It can be just as important and energizing as the calories you need to consume. If I ever doubt how much I need music, I remind myself of the St. Louis marathon I ran years ago. My ipod locked up at mile 5 and never came back on, that was the worst 21.2 miles of my life.
There are different types of runners, and there are many ways we find motivation. Running with music may not be for everyone, but it definitely is for me. Music is healing, motivating, and inspiring…… and so is running. What a perfect combination! So find music that motivates you, find songs that you connect with, and build the soundtrack to your run.
Here are a few websites that have music suggestions and lists of the top running songs….