Last Tuesday, I did something I hadn't done in a very long time: I dragged my body outside of my apartment and went for a run. (I also deleted Tinder in a fit of self respect, but that's not what this post is about.)
It's such a cliche, but the stupid one-mile jog made me feel better than I had felt in a really long time. I hadn't run in about half a year, and my form was probably terrible, but bolting around my neighborhood for ten minutes reset me in a way that copious amounts of booze can't (shocker).
Obviously, this is a habit that should be encouraged, and an excellent playlist can be a very encouraging thing. For me, a good running song has to be more than “something with a good beat.” Sure, it should be peppy and make me want to move, but I need something that helps me zone out and get into a kind of meditative state. The following songs distract me just enough from the discomfort of physical activity while still keeping me mindful of what I'm doing with my feet.
“Ambling Alp” — Yeasayer
The video is a little much, but the song is oddly inspiring and uplifting.
"Come Around" — M.I.A.
This is actually my favorite M.I.A. song of all time. It's a little slower than “Bad Girls” or “Paper Planes,” but that actually keeps me from burning myself out.
“Take Your Mama” — Scissor Sisters
I'm pretty sure this song is about a dude murdering his wife so he can fool around, but I still played it during the garter toss at my mom's wedding. It's a real groovy tune, and I always end up imagining elaborate dance routines while running.
“Only The Good Die Young” — Billy Joel
I used to really hate Billy Joel for no real reason, then I heard this song. “Only the good die young” is kind of a weird thing to say to a girl that you're trying to bone, but it's a fairly valid point.
“Midnight City” — M83
This song makes me want to walk through a wall (in the best way possible).
“Bitch” — The Rolling Stones
This song, which is actually about love being a “bitch” and not a woman, has a lot of horns and a lot of moxie. It's a pretty accurate description of love, and I've always enjoyed the direct reference to Charlie Watts, as if he has the power to cure the lovesick. (He probably does, to be quite honest.)
“And She Was” — Talking Heads
The Talking Heads are just good running music all around, but this song helped pull me through the last mile of my half marathon last year, and for that I am forever grateful.
“Walking My Gargoyle” — The Gothic Archies
I never read “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” but I absolutely love all of the music Stephin Merritt wrote for it, and this happy-sounding song about a hideous man and his pet gargoyle always puts a spring in my step. (I also think it would make a really cute wedding song.)
“Suffer for Fashion” — of Montreal
Man, I really miss of Montreal being good. It's almost impossible to sit still while listening to this slightly manic song, and the lyric “we've got to keep it physical” is pretty perfect for, you know, physical activity.
“Sister Golden Hair” — America
Man, this song is the pinnacle of fuckboy nonsense. Like are you actually serious with the “I do agree there's times when a woman sure can be a friend of mine”? Like, thanks bro for granting me the privilege of being your “friend.” Somehow, in spite of these shenanigans, I really love this song. The harmonies are good. The drums are good. And I think the infuriating lyrics fill me with anger, which fuels me to run longer.
Do you listen to music when you run (or workout)? What's on your playlist?