The first rule to Making the Perfect Running mix: you do not talk about Making The Perfect Running Mix.
The second rule of Making the Perfect Running Mix: don’t quote stupid fucking movies– just make a mix.
(Yes, we all know that’s it’s really a “playlist” in popular parlance, but I won’t be hamstrung by your politically correct nomenclature. It’s a mix and it always will be.)
I’ve given this subject a lot of thought this summer because over 75% of my runs have sucked so bad I almost took up Zumba. I blamed the weather. Then it cooled off, so I blamed my uterine lining. Other culprits: gas, grief, El Nino, Congress, imaginary cancers eating my muscles, early on-set Ebola virus.
Then it hit me. My music sucked. I was running to the same playlist (composed in August 2012) every single time, which might work for individuals who more highly prize routines and predictability, but it was not working for me.
Of course you have to update your music– just like you’re supposed to retire your shoes after 500 miles (which may be a conspiracy on the part of shoe makers to get us to buy more). If you’ve listened to Fun. for over 300 miles, it’s time to visit your local iTunes account and make yourself some new magic.
I spruced up my music and now I’m running better. Faster. Longer. No more daydreaming about how I probably have a rare strain of chronic functional abdominal pain or an undiagnosed tumor that manifests as a side stitch and a bad attitude. Now, I’m running like the goddamned wind.
So to anyone suffering from shitty music syndrome, here’s some tips for Making the Perfect Running Mix.
- Don’t Try To Be Cool. Look, it’s your playlist. It’s private, like your sex log or your scab collection. No one’s gonna see it so don’t include music you think will impress others.
- Sentimental favorites. You loved the Wham Rap? Milli Vanilli? Carly Simon? Old school MJ? Put it in there, because the combination of nostalgia and endorphins will get your higher than a funny mushroom you can buy from that greasy guy who lives behind your cousin’s garage. Tony Bennett reminds you of your parents slow dancing in the living room? RuPaul reminds you of losing your virginity on Shenandoah Lane in Highland Park? What are you waiting for? Put it on there because you may need it at mile 3 when your fatigue hits.
- Rebellious Anthems. Let’s see: Maybe you teach feminist theory at the local college, but you love Blurred Lines, even though it suggests that (1) good girls don’t like sex and (2) that “girls” are animals that need to be domesticated. Or maybe you are an officer of the law but you love cop killer gangsta rap. Maybe you are a homophobic right-wing preacher but you love Cher in that forbidden fruit kind of way. PUT THOSE SONGS ON YOUR MIX. The thrill of rebelling against who the world thinks you are as you run with the music piped into your ears will help you cover many a mile.
- Cheese Out. When all else fails, add in some Chariots of Fire or that Natalie Merchant song where she’s all “thank you, thank you” for being Kind and Generous. Maybe some Whitney singing about the children or Elton John singing to the gone-too-soon Princess Diana. You’ll be surprised how a little schmaltz will send you flying to the finish line.