The rhythm of life


I am a music person. Music is my thing. Exercise, well, perhaps not.  But with the festival season approaching and the denim shorts and wellies combo a-calling, what’s a girl to do?

I have set myself the (perhaps slightly overambitious) challenge of the Glasgow half-marathon in September. At the time of writing this was a mere 121 days, 16 hours and 9 minutes away, give or take a few seconds.  You might be thinking if I’m not an exercise person, why on earth do I think this is a good idea? Well, I have discovered that running is the best time to listen to new music. I am one of those people that when listening to an album for the first time, I have to give it my undivided attention, start to finish, with no interruptions. When you’re out running by yourself, you can turn those headphones up full blast and listen away. I’ve also found it’s a good technique to distract myself from the actual exercise, there’s nothing better than immersing yourself in new musical goodness to take your mind off aching legs. At my current distance, I can finish an album easily and this week plan to break in new offerings from Cage the Elephant, Does It Offend You, Yeah? and the debut from Jamie Woon.

However, I’ve had a thought. For the half-marathon, I’m likely to be running for over two hours. What if there’s no new albums released that week? How on earth am I going to manage that length of time?

I decided to conduct a bit of research and find out what really is the best type of music to run to?

A quick google search gives you thousands of opinions. Everything from hardcore to reggae appears in the results.  I didn’t find this very helpful.  I don’t have time to trawl through thousands of people’s answers on forums so I decided to look closer to home. A shout out on facebook seemed the obvious answer. Again, results were mixed. Rock seemed to be popular. I can understand the heavy bass and crashing drums could certainly spur you on. Dance was also up there because “it gets you going”. My problem with that though is that I find it samey. My mind instantly turns to other matters such as “I can’t breathe”, or I find myself trying to run in time to the music. With dance music, that kind of speed isn’t ideal for that kind of distance- a sprint, maybe?

I decided to turn to the experts at Runners World magazine. They suggest that the optimum soundtrack to your run should consist of songs that exceed 120 beats per minute such as Reach by S Club and Rossini’s William Tell Overture. Hmm… Other [markedly better] options are songs which are lyrically and musically motivational such as Lose Yourself or Eye of the Tiger. If choosing individual songs is too much hard work, then bands whose music consists of relentless hard-driven rhythms are also recommended such as The Strokes, Foo Fighters and QOTSA.

Then there are those who prefer to run with no music at all. A friend who recently completed her first half-marathon managed so without the use of an iPod.

For me, this isn’t an option and going by other people’s music tastes isn’t really either. My highly scientific research has shown me that, at the end of the day, it’s best to stick to what you know. Indie bands and Northern Soul it is for me then!

Bring on the race.


Anna McDonald


Image credit – ion markel argazkiak