14 Songs For Running


This immaculate creature is my dog, Sadie. She’s named after The Beatles’ song “Sexy Sadie” and she lives up to it. She and I work very hard to keep up on lookin’ sexy, and the biggest part of our program is running. We’ll do 2 or 3 miles at a go, and we’re going farther and faster as we train.

Our running is heavily bolstered by good, upbeat music. Here are some of the tunes that keep us going when we otherwise might give up and fall flat on our sexy faces.

“Be Above It” – Tame Impala

Okay, too-personal story time. Once, at the height of my depression, I checked myself into a psychiatric hospital. I quickly realized this was a horrible idea, and it’s not one I recommend to you. Once I was booked, though, they wouldn’t let me go for a little while. I had to find some way to pass the time, so I started walking up and down the hallway. Having surrendered my iPod at admission, I only had the songs I could sing to myself to walk to. Two songs quickly set my pace: “Optimistic” by Radiohead (particularly the line “The best you can is good enough”), and this banger from Tame Impala. I had seen them play at Lollapalooza twice (when they were still playing the noon slot, instead of headlining as they are again this year), and I loved them. This song has a perfect walking rhythm, and so I started muttering under my breath as I walked down the hall, “gottabeaboveitgottabeaboveitgottabeaboveit…” By the end of my mandated week in captivity, the other folks in my unit had the song stuck in their heads, too, and it became an unofficial slogan of all my friends in the hospital.

“Dreams” – Van Halen

Sammy Hagar is cheesy, yes. Van Hagar pales in comparison to David Lee Roth’s tenure. But damn it all, this music video is what dreams are made of! Few images are more inspirational to me than the focus and exactness of these Blue Angel pilots in sychronization! Sadie and I fly down the roads when this one plays.

“The Distance” – Cake

There’s palpable melancholy in the lyrics of this song- how can you miss “bowel-shaking earthquakes of doubt and remorse”? Then that charged guitar line in the chorus forces us to keep biding and fighting and riding on our horse. Not to mention, if this melodica player can make it onto alternative radio, anyone can.

“I’ll Make A Man Out Of You” – Mulan

One of my favorite Disney movies donates one of the ultimate go-get-em anthems. “Once you find your center, you are sure to win!”

“One Vision” – Queen

Weird noises! Driving guitars! Freddie! And after all the single things that make us go, we get back to what we really do it for, why we really keep struggling through this life: Fried Chicken. 

“Heat of the Moment” – Asia

King Crimson, Shming Shmimson. We’re here because of The Buggles, obviously! My father had the cover of this album drawn on one of his high school binders, and I asked myself, “Why?” and then put this song on and remembered why.

“The Heat Is On” – Glenn Frey

They ran this commercial in 2012 during NASCAR broadcasts, and forever this song will take me back to that. It makes the beads of sweat in my eye more rewarding.

“Get Up” – R.E.M.

I had this album on cassette in my old car, which had one of those auto-flip tape players. Sometimes, it wouldn’t leave my deck for weeks at a go. Later, Automatic For The People would take its place (and get me through my first semester as an engineering student), but this shorty is the song that really gets my legs moving.

“Black Rose” – Volbeat

You can substitute just about any Volbeat song here, and it’ll still do the job. “The taste of good memories” that it brings me is bitter, and makes me want to fight harder.

“Pressing On” – Relient K

Just some good ol’ fashioned pop-punk. Uplifting. “To go back to where I was would just be wrong – I’m pressing on!”

“Blackout” – Breathe Carolina

I’m pretty sure, when he says “I’m only getting started – I won’t blackout,” he’s talking about surviving a night of drunken antics- but hey, I can pretend he’s singing about running, if I want to.

“Don’t Stop Living In The Red” – Andrew W.K.

The ECHL Allen Americans hockey team from Allen, TX, play this song whenever they score a goal. They have made the correct decision. Almost any other song from the wonderful I Get Wet album could be substituted here.

“Warrior” – Kesha

This song is one of my ultimate guilty pleasures. The chorus is actually really good, and the first 46 seconds are basically perfect. Then, our gal Kesha comes in with rap-singing that’s pretty dang cringe-y. This song came out at the climax of dubstep bridges in pop music, and made in my opinion the second-best installment in the series, behind only “Bubble Pop!” by Hyuna.

“Dance Yrself Clean” – LCD Soundsystem

It takes a long time to build, but that’s actually one of this song’s strengths. By the time you’re into it, it blasts you with this stomping rhythm that’s irresistible. I’ll never forget this one time when I did a 20-mile bike ride, and in the middle, I listened to this and their previous album, Sound of Silver, both albums I’m very familiar with. I could hear my heart pounding, and then the damnedest thing happened: the music slowed down. As I’ve improved my metabolism, it’s become harder and harder to induce this exhilarating experience, but it’s a high I strive for, harder to come by and more rewarding than anything I’ve felt on any drug.

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