Music and Running

…Go hand in hand as far as I’m concerned.  I remember the first 10k I signed up for; I read through all the information that was sent out, but one thing stood out like a 3-legged llama at Miss America contest:

…no headphones…

Say what?!  How can anyone run without music?  What madness is this? Is pretty much, thought for thought, the result of reading those two words.  This race, no joke, would be torture.

I can remember reluctantly tucking my mp3 player into one of the ‘secret’ compartments of the rucksack I’d lock to my bike and heading towards the crowd.  I hadn’t left myself much time (translation: I woke up hung-over after a Eurovision Song Paty) so everyone was assembling at the start line.  And in 90% of ears at the start line?


Hung-over, and with just the sound of panting and feet padding along the road, I was totally not feeling the vibe.  I guess I saw it as a kind of initiation – a hazing from ‘The Running Monster’.  I mean, I would have preferred a swift aerodynamic paddle to the ass once or twice instead, but whatever – I’m over it.

Anyway, the only time since that painful day that I have run without my jammin’ beats was the Bupa Great Edinburgh Run this year, because it was pissing down with rain and I (quite sensibly) decided not to risk damaging my quite expensive (to me) mp3 player.  Oh, and of course the rain stopped 5 minutes into the run.  I have since purchased a cheap ‘back-up’ mp3 player for such occasions.

I find that any music, even the radio, is fine for running if you’re taking it easy (like my Sunday run), but there are some songs that never fail to get me totally pumped.  They cover a range of genres (I used to be all about rock, but I’m sullying my style by adding some generic pop, dance, cheesy 80’s stuff and dub step.  A few of my failsafe tracks at the moment for psyching me up (and I’m not even ashamed!) include:

Example – ‘Midnight Run’

Nero – ‘Me and You’

Boston ‘More than a Feeling’

Saul Williams – ‘List of Demands’

Alice Cooper – ‘School’s Out’ (I’m a teacher, this never fails to lift my spirits)

Flux Pavilion – ‘I Can’t Stop’

So what songs give you an instant adrenaline rush?  And are you one of the ‘weird’ people that runs without music?  Let me know, not least so I can nick some song choices!

Christmas Canter 10k for Mencap

Sunday, 4th December, 2011

Sunday morning

Despite having been out the night before for a Christmas meal, I was up bright and early on Sunday to make my way down to the beach – solo (boyfriend was having a lie-in).  It was a bright and sunny morning – but freezing!  The streets were pretty deserted on the way to the Beach Leisure Centre.

Long winter shadow

As I approached, I noticed an assemblage of ‘serious’ runners – hi-tech running gear, hardcore stretching, running tights, gloves.  I was feeling pretty hip with my new Garmin, so I gave a sly wrist flash (I say sly, you should envisage someone unnecessarily exposing half her arm and leaning on a railing looking ‘casual’), but nobody seemed to notice, so I sauntered over to the coffee-drinking runners and asked where to register.  I was directed downstairs.

Race number

In the dungeon of the Leisure Centre I was met with cheery and alarmingly alert faces.  I gave my name and was given a number, some safety pins and an XL t-shirt that could double as a tent if weather conditions deteriorated throughout the race and I needed shelter (apparently mediums disappear quickly!). I had a quick change, dumped my belongings into a locker and went back upstairs to wait for the start.  The route was pretty straightforward: run along the beach of the sidewalk, turn, run back to Footdee, turn, run back, turn, run to the finish line.

The route

Just before 10:30, all the runners were summoned to the sidewalk.  Headphones went in, and as I crossed the start line, I also started the timer on my new Garmin for the first time!

The cold breeze was less than enjoyable for my poor bare hands, and I did feel a pang of jealousy as a woman passed me bedecked in cozy gloves. Luckily, after the first turn, we were shielded from the wind a bit, only to be blinded by running directly towards the low hanging winter sun.
After reaching Footdee (which I only recently realized is pronounced ‘Fittie’), we turned back onto the main sidewalk (and back into the wind).  I noticed that I was creeping up on one of the serious runners – let’s call her Silver Ponytail – that had previously been a speck on the horizon to me.  I also noticed glove woman who overtook me at the start.  Instantly, without wanting it to happen, I became competitive.

As I closed the gap, the low sun cast my 30 foot long shadow onto their feet, so they knew someone was approaching.  When I reached them, Gloves dropped behind, but Silver Ponytail switched into second gear and would not leave my side.  ‘That’s cool,’ I thought, ‘I’ll just run with her to keep a good pace and then sprint at the finish.’  And so, merrily I ran, matching Silver Ponytail stride for stride, soaking up the sun and the atmosphere.

But hold your horses there, cowboy! What is this?  The Silver Pony was actually a sly fox.  I was being shamelessly used as her windbreaker!  The ‘coastal breeze’ transformed in my mind into a ‘bitter wind’.  Hateful, venomous words rattled around my head and I thought ‘Screw this!’ and sped up.  She tried to hang on, but I was not having that redonkulous behaviour.  As I made the final turn of the race, I noticed I’d managed to create quite a sizable gap between us, so calmed down.

The last leg of the race was relaxed and sunny.  I overtook two more people (one male – always a mood booster!) before going for a short sprint finish.

My overall time, according to my Garmin, was 54:08 (no chip time or anything due to the ‘no frills’ style of the race).  An improvement on the dreadful Great North Run of October, thankfully, and less painful as I wasn’t really pushing myself too hard.  I’d like to get back down to the 40’s for 2012, but charity fun runs are less pain, more steady enjoyment.  I plan on doing it again next year.