Beats for Jay

My Sennheiser PMX680i Headphones

I don’t often listen to music when I run. Most of the time, I prefer to keep that time for more reflective and meditative activities. Without music I find myself becoming more immersed in my surroundings and observing much more of the world around me. However, there are a few occasions where I find that music really fits. For example, a half marathon race or a speed session on the track or treadmill. In both cases, adding a fast beat and deep bass soundtrack has helped me push myself beyond my comfort zone.

For the longer runs or sessions, I typically opt for a Group Therapy Radio podcast from Above & Beyond. ABGT is a weekly radio show that highlights some of the best trance and progressive music around. Each episode lasts about two hours, and there are very few gaps between tunes so the intensity level rarely drops. That’s great for a fast race and I have set a personal record once or twice while listening to these shows.

For shorter interval sessions, typically speed work on the track or treadmill, I tend to opt for a handful of individual songs that get me motivated. I’ve used to find songs that match a specific beat or pace. Over the years, as I come across songs that inspire and make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, I’ve added to them to my list.

  • The Archers Bows Have Broken – Brand New
  • Everlong – Foo Fighters
  • You Could Be Mine – Guns N’ Roses
  • The Middle – Jimmy Eat World
  • State Of Love And Trust – Pearl Jam
  • Voodoo People – The Prodigy
  • Adios – Rammstein
  • That’s Not My Name – The Ting Tings
  • It’s Time to Party – Andrew W.K.
  • Hey Man, Nice Shot – Filter
  • She Bangs the Drum – The Stone Roses
  • Living on a Pray – Bon Jovi
  • Lose Yourself – Eminem
  • Working for the Weekend – Loverboy
  • Runner – Manfred Mann
  • I Love It – IconaPop
  • The Spark – Afrojack

Of course, music preference is a totally subjective thing. If you were to ask ten different people what their favorites are, you would probably get ten different lists. These are just a few of the songs I like to listen to for short burst exercises and speed work sessions. What are yours?


why_001When I tell people I am planning to run a marathon, one of the most common questions I am asked is why? This is not exactly a common endeavor, and certainly something that most people fear because of the commitment and effort required.

For as long as I can remember I have always had a desire to test myself against one of the most extreme challenges a person can undertake. Over the last year, as I have become more comfortable running and improved my abilities, that ambition has returned. A few weeks ago, Jess and I watched the New York City marathon and I remember looking at many of those individuals and thinking to myself, “if they can do it so can I.” There is no doubting the physical challenges associated with running 26 miles and 385 yards. The strain on the body must be incredible, and I am only beginning to find out exactly what is required to get myself ready as I research different training plans.

But there is another side to the challenge, one that gets far less coverage but that is probably just as important. There is a significant mental and emotional burden on the runner, over the course of the training and marathon itself. According to some runners and coaches, this can have as much, if not more, of a bearing on the runners performance as the physical preparation. I recently read the excellent Accidental Athlete by John Bingham (link) and was delighted to see the author dedicate time to this area.Even now, as I challenge myself to run ever increasing distances and take part in my first races over short distances, I am beginning to become aware of the need for proper mental preparation.

So why am I doing this? There are the obvious and aforementioned reasons, but primarily because a few years ago I never would have imagined or envisioned myself accomplishing this feat. I want to know what it feels like to cross the finish line after covering that legendary distance – to be able to look myself in the mirror and know that I achieved a long-term goal of mine. I don’t care that I won’t finish first – finishing is what matters – completing the run and proving to myself that I can do something if I set my mind to it.