Running To the Beat


by Alina Gatowski, Thursday night track leader and superstar

Disclaimer: Alina submitted this blog when it was actually still dark and cold at 5pm. Now that Daylight Savings has come, I know I am feeling a bit more eager to be outside. However, it’ still full of great tips for compiling your playlist if you choose to run with music, especially for those who have a marathon coming up or lots of long runs they plan to do this summer!

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that running on a treadmill sucks. But, facing impassable sidewalks and fleeting daylight, it can be the only option for an honest tempo run or interval workout. The key to sanity in this situation is a solid playlist -the right music can turn an indeterminately long slog into a triumph, a conquering synchrony of you and the beat.

Taste in workout music differs (wildly, if the tunes bleeding from headphones at the gym are any indication), but there are a few general guidelines for crafting a good workout playlist:

1)      Pick music you like: this may seem obvious, and it probably is. But it’s easy to find a premade playlist that’s ok, harder to create one that’s just right for you. Your playlist should have those songs that make you stop what you are doing, strain to hear, and say “hey! I like this song.” It helps if you know all the words, know instinctively when the opening chords change, the beat drops, and the vocals begin. The songs you can’t help but sing out loud to in public? Those are good. But, all a song really needs is to pass the toe-tap test. As you listen, pay attention – do you find yourself tapping your toes, bopping your head, lost in the song? If so, great! Add it to the list.

a.       When in doubt, throw it back: If you are staring at an empty playlist, waiting for inspiration to strike, take a trip down memory lane. The hit track off the first CD you every owned? The song you and your friends made up a dance to in middle school? The opener to the first mix you ever burned? All go on the list. Let the wave of nostalgia propel you through your workout.

b.      Everyone likes Taylor Swift: shame is a concept that does not exist when it comes to workout music. The pop-industrial complex manufactures music to be catchy, driving, upbeat – perfect for a workout. Don’t fight it.

2)      Order matters:  remember PEMDAS? Well, order is just as important to your playlist as it is to dear Aunt Sally.  You want slower songs for the warm-up, faster for the workout. The energy should build as yours flags, even if your pace stays the same. Keep it chill to start – longer songs you can zone in and out of – getting progressively shorter, bigger, and louder towards the end. Always have an arsenal of emergency music at the back, for when things get desperate – your secret-weapon, anguish-vanquishing songs.

3)      More is better: sometimes, you will get really, really bored. Your mind will refuse to settle, transfixed on the little red numbers moving ever-so-slowly on the display. The songs that killed it last week will barely register. When things get dire, sometimes the only solution is to keep flipping – try to hold on for a minute or two, then on to the next. For this to work, you need a lot of songs – it’s not the most efficient, but sometimes it’s the only way.

And that’s it, really, the secret to a good workout playlist! Here’s a recent one of mine, to get you started:

Super cool playlist!

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