The final countdown

As the Fairfield Half-Marathon approaches and I go through the pre-race rituals, I'd thought I'd share my playlist (also, this was a request from Laura). With that, I'd like to set the mood with arguably the best techno-rock song to come out of Scandinavia in the mid-80s:

Great, now that we're all totally stoked about bad music, let's get onto the playlist. Here is the process I've developed over the years:

1. I get excited! And why shouldn't I? It's a week before a race and the end of training is within sight.
2. I set aside an hour (although it sometimes becomes two) to go through all the music on my computer and pick out only the best of the best running songs. Those songs go onto the playlist. (I've also learned that I gravitate toward newer songs that I haven't worn out yet.)
3. Now that I have a short list of songs to play with I start the delicate process of ordering them and weeding out the songs that just don't work. To do this I assign a rating to each song on iTunes according to the following system:

  • One star - The starter songs. These songs help set the pace early in the race because they are fast and really fun. These songs make me happy--which hopefully carries over on race day.
  • Two star - The ease into the groove songs. These songs are a slower pace than the one star set, but equally as important in maintaining pace as the initial energy wears off. They also help transition to the next set of songs.
  • Three star - The workhorse songs. At this point in the race I'm well into the miles and need to just concentrate on keeping one foot going behind the other. These songs are slow and remind me that it's ok to slow down because by this point I've established a comfortable pace and just need to maintain it.
  • Four star - The "ok, let's start picking it up" songs. These songs are scheduled to start about 75% of the way into the race. When I hear these songs that means that the finish line is getting closer and that I should start pushing out of the comfort zone. No fireworks, but just a slight increase in pace.
  • Five star - The gravvy songs. If there is anything left in me, these songs can get it out of me because they're just that inspirational/bad ass. When I hear these I know that I have to whip out the gravvy and start pouring it on.

4. Once the songs are in these five groups, then I order them according to what songs lead well into the following song and what is appropriate for that approximate point in the race.
5. Once the playlist is done I try to take it for a test run. (Didn't happen this time around, oh well.)

Yesterday I went through this process and here is the finished product, ready for racing--and maybe even a PR--in Fairfield:

  • One Star songs
  • Proud Mary; Tina Turner (this is always my first song and I only listen to it on race days, it just gets me in the right mood--no idea why)
  • Rhythm Bandits; Junior Senior
  • Let's Dance to Joy Division; The Wombats (I am currently obsessed with this song)
  • Out Here All Night; Damone
  • Reptilia; The Strokes (Good choice for this section since it contains the line "don't slow me down if I'm going too fast")
  • Soulchaser; Caesars
  • Two Star songs
  • Coconuts; Junior Senior
  • Check Yes Juliet; We the Kings
  • This River Is Wild; The Killers
  • Your English Is Good; Tokyo Police Club
  • Take Me Out; Franz Ferdinand
  • Can I Get Get Get; Junior Senior (maybe this should be renamed the Junior Senior Half-Marathon playlist--they are the only band on here thrice [yes, I said thrice])
  • Three Star songs
  • Only You; Caesars
  • Freedom 90; George Michael
  • For Reasons Unknown; The Killers
  • Save Room; John Legend
  • My Moon My Man; Feist UPDATE: replaced with Barracuda by Heart
  • She Don't Use Jelly; Ben Folds Five (I always laugh at this song and by this point in the race I'll take anything that can make me happy)
  • Wreckless Love; Alicia Keys (Alicia seems like a really slow choice for running music, but some of her songs have a very fast beat if you listen for it) UPDATE: replaced with Roxanne by The Police
  • I Turn My Camera On; Spoon (I first heard this song on a Jaguar commercial and haven't been able to get it out of my head since, it has an easy beat to match my pace to)
  • Four Star songs
  • Black Cadillacs; Modest Mouse (Nothing says get your ass in gear like Modest Mouse screaming "Done done done with all the f*** f*** f***ing around")
  • Sea Lion Woman; Feist
  • Steven's Last Night In Town; Ben Folds Five UPDATE: replaced with Shockwave by Black Tide
  • Times Like These; Foo Fighters
  • Juicebox; The Strokes (This has become my "passing" song because there is a line in the chorus that screams "Why won't you come over here?" Well, if you won't come over here I'm just going to have to pass you, aren't I?)
  • Five Star songs
  • I Don't Feel Like Dancin'; Scissor Sister (Because I indeed don't feel like dancing by now) UPDATE: replaced with Stronger by Kanye West
  • The Devil Went Down to Georgia; The Charlie Daniels Band (It's cheesy, but it works)
  • The Pretender; Foo Fighters (awesome song, it immediately got Five Star designation the first time I heard it)
  • Move Along; The All-American Rejects


Updated: 6/21


Marcy said...

Really? George Micheal in there? Not saying it's bad, it just surprises me LOL Very eclectic mix, homie!

Kevin said...

Interesting mix of tunes. Definitely will keep you moving

KimsRunning said...

Being a music fanatic myself, I'm so surprised not to know most of your songs! I know all your 5 star songs (I love Scissor Sisters "I Don't Feel Like Dancin'")Have you heard sawyer Brown's " The Race Is On"? Good one for the finish line! The crazy in me adds up the times and tries to put that song in when i think I'll be finishing a run......

Laura said...

Thanks for sharing! I'll try out a few of those for my own playlists at some point.

Ted said...

Man... you got an interesting mix. I am hooked to my new iPod. May I throw a few of em at you? You might want to test it..

Violent Hill - Coldplay
Again - Alice in Chains
The Pretender - Foo Fighters (oh man, you already have that one)

and lastly and most fitting for the last called Marathon by Rush (a classic one)!

rundangerously said...

omg, i loved your list. it made me feel really, really OLD - haha. i only recognized the first song ... yikes!

how about the dead's "fire on the mountain?" "long distance runner get out of the door..."

or something from the pretenders? "back on the chain gang?"

if you see someone in a yellow mm singlet this weekend give a shout. i'll be running fairfield too.

Meg said...

Hey, I ran across your blog from Laura's at some point. Great playlist! I definitely downloaded some of those songs, they're pretty energetic. I tried the gravy visual this morning, but it didn't really work for me. :)

Debbie said...

Wow, you have quite the race song methodology. I actually run to Turn My Camera On quite a bit.

Jess said...

That's a diverse range of music! Glad to see you placed The Pretender as a 5 star song! It rocks the running. I love the Foo.

The Laminator said...

Hey, sRod...lots of luck on the half-marathon. I'm looking forward to hearing your awesome speed be manifested in your best 13.1 yet. I'll run my own 13.1 miles in the city on Sunday to cheer you on. Let me know how it goes.

Nitmos said...

I've been trying to sync up Queen's "We are the Champions" to my expecting finish of a marathon but so far, no luck.

Michelle J said...

Let's dance to Joy Division - Love it!! I'm obsessed with it too dude!! Great job by the way!!!

FLYERS26 said...

Flagpole Sitta, by Harvey Danger
Semi-Charmed Life by Third Eye Blind..

When i run to them songs, they remind me of the movie American Pie.. good stuff!

FLYERS26 said...

here's one I forgot.. It's a great cover of a Police song:

Next to You by The Offspring

It's a hidden song from their greatest hits albumn, but you can find it on limewire.