I Won’t Give Up (On Finding the Perfect Playlist)

I have been meaning to write about my running playlist for a while. I finally found the impetus to do it when Bob Gabordi, Executive Editor of our Tallahassee Democrat, runner, and Move Tallahassee enthusiast, blogged about his list and asked, “So what’s on your playlist to keep you moving?”

Music ImageMy list is not static.  Songs that make me feel incredibly pumped up and motivated for weeks suddenly grow stale and find themselves replaced. But for that period that they’re “in,” they have a combination of great beat, musical novelty, and contagiousness that gets me through many miles and various workouts from my coach that have me running all kinds of combinations of heart rate zones and distances.

The WarmUp Song

I am pretty sure Empire State of Mind by Jay-Z featuring Alicia Keys will always be my warm-up song. Its beat is “medium” enough for a warmup and each time I play it, it’s a little tiny homage to my favorite place. Ironically, I miss my favorite place so much right now that I can’t bear to listen to the song so I’ve been going straight to the fast stuff.

Tunes I Love

Shake Señora by Pitbull featuring T-Pain and Sean Paul

Jump by FloRida (The Chocolate Puma full vocal mix)

Scream & Shout by will.i.am featuring Britney Spears

Can’t Hold Us by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Ray Dalton

Magic by B.o.B. (featuring Rivers Cuomo)

Universal Mind Control by Common

Till The World Ends by Britney Spears (The Bloody Beatroots Extended Remix)

Run by Flo Rida (featuring RedFoo – Bonus Track)

Run to the Hills by Iron Maiden

Be Good To Yourself by Journey

Timebomb by Kylie Minogue (Extended Version)

Turn Up the Radio by Madonna (Offer Nissim Remix)

Include Me Out by Robbyn

T.H.E. Hardest Ever by will.i.am (featuring Mick Jagger & Jennifer Lopez)

Lose Yourself by Eminem

Electricity by Ashley Jana

What I’ve Done by Linkin Park

For Cool Downs

Just Give Me A Reason by Pink featuring Nate Ruess

I Won’t Give Up by Jason Mraz

But Wait!! There’s More!!

When I got back into running (in 2008) and started searching for music, I relied quite heavily for a while on “beats per minute” mixes. Now, I primarily use those when I am doing speedwork at the track or when I particularly want to focus on form and consistency. The ones I have used and recommend include:

Beats Per Minute Music

Podrunner Podrunner is the first “beats per minute” podcast service I subscribed to. DJ Steve Boyett (who is also an author!) works hard to create this free podcast (there are technical considerations, music licensing negotiations, and a whole host of things besides slapping together catchy tunes).

Motiontraxx Motiontraxx has added a lot of options since I began downloading their podcast a few years ago. There are now apps for iPhone and Android, and there are mixes/coaching cues for HIIT workouts and other activities besides running.

BeatRunning I don’t have as much of a “relationship” with BeatRunning as I feel like I do with Podrunner and Motiontraxx; I just bought some of their mixes off of iTunes. They’re the ones I happen to use most frequently now — a solid 180 bpm of something that I can try to attach my cadence to.


I love audiobooks. I go through them rapidly. If I have a long Zone 2 (conversational pace) run planned, I will frequently listen to an audiobook. The miles can go back a lot more painlessly if you’re wrapped up in a biography or great fiction story.


There are so many fantastic podcasts out there. It was through podcasts that I have ended up with some of my favorite running connections.  The first running podcast I ever listened to was Chris Russell’s RunRunLive (fortunately I wasn’t too thrown off by the first five minutes being about mountain goat hygiene services (Chris has a quirky sense of humor). I was introduced to it by Ann Brennan of Ann’s Running Commentary. She now has her own running podcast at Ann’s Running Commentary. Both of these podcasts have my highest recommendation.


I would be remiss if I didn’t give a bit of credit to running without earbuds, without someone else talking or singing into your ear. And of course this doesn’t actually mean you’re listening to “nothing.” If you are working on your running form, you have a chance to listen to your “light fast feet” (or the fact that they’re not as light and fast as you thought!). Birds, traffic, animals, other people, the thoughts bumping around in your head. Sometimes it’s best to leave all the music/talk at home and just run.

A Note About Safety

While I love running with the various songs, books, and podcasts mentioned above, I want to remind you (assuming teacher/mom/coach voice here) that safety is key. This article has a few tips about running safely with headphones (some of which I defy on a daily basis but they’re good food for thought).

But Enough About Me

What are your faves? Let me know in the comments!


Thoughts As I Close in on 60 DWR*

*DWR = Days Without Running

When I look back at my training logs, especially from the perspective of the time that has elapsed, I can pinpoint my injury to early July 2010, when I decided to do some homegrown speedwork.  What I thought was plantar fasciitis ended up being more of an ankle joint/tendon injury, and like many runners, I kept on running in hopes of “working it out.”  I actually had a pretty fun summer of running, despite the regression in my times and the circuit of chiropractors, doctors, ultrasound treatments, and inserts.  Finally, after the Miller’s Landing Madness 8K on August 28, I accepted and decided to act upon the sound advice I had received from several reliable sources:  it was time for a break from running.

Miller’s Landing Madness 8K (8/28/10)
Photo credit:  Herb Wills
It was at a PiYo (fusion pilates/yoga) class 24 DWR that some of the information those reliable sources had been imparting to me started to click — information about how our core really provides “a solid base upon which all other muscles can work upon to initiate movement,” as described at the Virtual Sports Injury Clinic.  When I took my shoes off, entered the downward dog position, and felt my achilles, calf muscle, and hamstring all stretch in unison, something loosened up in my brain a bit too regarding my approach to running and fitness.

Here’s a breakdown of my DWR journey:

17 days on my old but still fundamentally sound (enough) bike
11 rest days
9 swimming days
9 walking days
RealRyder days (2 of which included a TRX workout)
5 PiYo/Yoga days

I have had some fantastic guides along this unexpected (but quite rewarding) journey.  One influence has been a RunRunLive podcast in which Chris Russell interviewed Jessi Stensland of Movement U.  She talked about the core and her work with athletes in many different disciplines.  Her comments echoed those of Jeff and Ann Bowman of RevTriCoaching, my swimming coaches, who pointed out that your core has to drive the motion of your arms and legs, or else you waste energy.  Kim Bibeau and staff at Sweat Therapy Fitness have introduced me to the RealRyder challenge, to TRX (which made itself known to me for DAYS afterwards), and by offering a few complimentary sessions of PiYo helped me get acquainted with something I clearly needed.  Journeys in Yoga has helped me extend my interest in yoga, stretching and strengthening my body as well as my spirit.  Jeff and Diane at PRSFit shared their experience,  knowledge, and wisdom with me. 

I wrote Chris when a friend was starting her “DWR Journey” a few weeks behind me.  I was searching (and failing) for something to say that would make her feel better and less defeated.  Here’s what Chris said:

Running is such a large part of your life, a personal part, losing it is like losing a friend. You will go through the cycle of grieving. Denial (your friend), Anger, Sadness, acceptance and learning. Once you know this your big brain can cope. Once you set your immediate goals aside and take the long view you can move ahead in a positive manner. I like to think of time off as a “great gathering of strength”. Time off allows not only physical healing but allows you to put this thing, this running, this gift in perspective.

Now that I am approaching 60 DWR, I am so happy to be more in the “learning” phase than the “sadness” and “anger” stages.  Over the past two weeks, there have been times when I can almost physically feel the area that had been so painful and tender throughout the summer knitting itself back together.  I suppose I owe my body the courtesy of giving it a chance to put itself back together, right?  I also owe it the courtesy of preparing the “solid base” of a core from which all of the other good, fun, challenging exertion can come.  To those of you who have helped guide this journey, thanks!  When I eventually cross a 5K finish line in less than 30 minutes, there may only be one runner but a bevy of virtual “teammates.” 


My Chaotic Dreamy Chaos (A Mama Kat Writing Prompt)

Springline windows are beautiful to me. Here’s what they look like:

If I were designing my dream home, I would incorporate at least one springline window. One would be sufficient. The home would have a red brick exterior, an “open” layout with lots of high ceilings and room to roam (and, of course, a circular path that little children can make laps on – they always seem to make their own if one isn’t obvious!). The yard would be well-maintained — professionally, with an emphasis on Florida friendly plants which do not suck down sprinkler water but instead utilize the resources available to them. As far as location, I have that one pretty much “down” – we waited years to get into this neighborhood, one with large lot sizes (around 3 acres), with one road in and one road out, lovely homes and a relaxed homeowners’ association.

Honestly, though, even if I had unlimited resources at my disposal, I don’t think I would pursue something drastically expensive and showy. For one thing, there are so many people in the world who have so very little as far as living arrangements. This is why I will never buy an exorbitantly priced rug, for example, and tend toward decorative touches that make a statement more than taking up room.

When I ruminated over this post since the random number generator dropped it in my lap on Monday (thanks RNG), what I kept coming back to was the fact that my dream home would be one with less CHAOS. Now, CHAOS means one thing to Flylady followers (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome), an acronym that implies the impending arrival of company or, God forbid, a drop in visitor, sends the homeowner into a tizzy of damage control.

Chaos also means something broader. When Chris Russell, host of the “runrunlive” podcast, closes out his podcast, he often ventures away from running technique and into philosophy (runners can be that way). In the episode I was listening to last night, he started talking about chaos in our lives. At one point, Chris said “A life well lived is on the border of chaos and order.” For my home, regardless of the color brick or the shape of the windows, it is my dream to migrate from the far fringes of “chaos” more toward the middle ground of order.

In her book, An Altar in the World, Barbara Brown Taylor writes about reframing the way we look at the task of housework. She chooses to call these tasks “the domestic arts, paying attention to all the ways they return me to my senses.” She writes about the beauty of cleaning baseboards to get back in touch with yourself. Among other things, it gets you down on your knees!

Why, in at least a year (probably longer), has no one in this four person family tackled this kind of thing?:

No time like the present (back in a moment):

Home is feeling less chaotic and more dreamy already.

I Hope I Look Spent

(photo credit: Jackisue/Flickr)

I love 5K races that do not involve waking up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday.  This Memorial Day weekend, I had the exquisite opportunity to sleep in late yesterday (Saturday) morning.  I also had the exquisite opportunity to have Friday off due to our Executive Director’s decision a few months ago to add the Friday prior to Memorial Day as an official office closure day (thanks, Rich!!).  I don’t know why he did that, but this is one situation where the “why” is pretty insignificant.

When I planned tonight’s blog, I planned to post my review of “You’re Not the Boss of Me — Brat-Proofing Your 4-12 Year Old Child” by Betsy Brown Braun.  Since I am not done with the book, and my review can be posted as late as Tuesday, that idea got jettisoned.  I have a commitment to blog weekly, though, and for me that is every Sunday night. 

When I was listening to a RunRunLive podcast this week, the host (Chris Russell) conducted an interview with Erskien Lenier.  At one point in the interview the two were discussing the condition in which runners cross the finish line.  I think it was Chris who commented about how totally spent the elite runners look when they cross the line.  Spent, as in at the point of collapse.  The point was that these runners leave it all on the course.  And he went on to ask of us listeners:  how much are you holding back when you race?  Are you leaving it all on the course?  Is there something else you can pull out of your arsenal as the race elapses that can help you more effectively reach your goals?

Most of you know that my running-related goal is to run a 5K in less than 30:00.  I started training for this in December 2008 and have felt somewhat “plateaued” over the past month or two.  I have seen enough athletic training (including a zillion hours watching young gymnasts train when my daughter was a gymnast) to believe that an athlete should be exceeding in practice what they want to demonstrate in competition.  So, since I have not broken 30:00 in my usual workout routines, it’s not going to happen tomorrow night in Bainbridge.

BUT, what I can do is pledge to myself to leave a little more out there on the roads of Bainbridge.  And I can tell all of you that that’s my plan so that you can help hold me accountable! 

I read a great quote that sums up my feelings about tomorrow night’s race:

Every person’s work…is always a portrait of that person. – Samuel Butler
The work I do tomorrow night in Bainbridge will hopefully convey a portrait of perseverance. 
I’ll drop in tomorrow night after the race and provide a follow-up comment.
Then I’ll “run” into you all again on Tuesday, for my review of “You’re Not the Boss of Me”!