Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Brain Training (Running Songs)

Brain-training is something that is hugely important for long-distance runners, and one tip that is consistent is to run each mile of your race for someone else (as it's a lot easier to keep going if it's "for someone").

This post looks like it's about to get all scientific-y. (Don't worry: it's not.)

I've tried that before, but my ADD generally gets the best of me, and after the first mile, I generally forget to think of other people and instead think the following things (often all at the same time):

  • "Just get up the hill. Just get up the hill. Just get up the hill."
  • "Only like 30 seconds more and you can walk. Come on, Em. Only 30 more seconds."
  • "This sure seemed like a lot more fun about 12 miles ago."
  • "There has to be a water stop just around the corner. There has to be. No? Ugh."
  • "Seriously, calves? Can you just make it another couple of miles before you totally crap out?"
  • "Ooooh! Squirrel!"

Yep: instead of thinking about the amazing people who have helped me become the runner -- and, more importantly, the person -- that I am, I generally tend to think about how much fun I'm really not having.

And then the miles seem to take for-ev-er.

So, for this upcoming race season (in which I'm running not one but five half marathons and a host of other races), I thought of a different strategy:

I would think of those important people in my life when their song started playing.

A few weeks ago, I listed five songs that I have on my playlist, five songs that have inspirational and motivational messages along with killer beats.

Today, I want to list a few songs that remind me of people, individuals who have shaped me into the woman that I am, individuals who will -- just by me thinking of them through their songs -- get me through these miles.

Without any further ado, here are my songs:

Wild Montana Skies -- John Denver

I know not many people have John Denver on their running mixes, but there is no way I could not not have John Denver on mine.

Nothing says run your heart out like this guy.
I have both Wild Montana Skies and Eagles and Horses on this particular list, and both remind me of my mom and my nana, two people who will get me through my race.

My mom gave me John Denver's Wildlife Collection when I went to college -- because her mom, my nana, gave her a John Denver album when she went to college. Frankly, I'm glad that MP3s exist because I'm pretty sure that album would be rendered unreadable by now based on how many times I have listened to it, thinking of my mom and my nana.

Call Me Maybe -- Carly Rae Jepsen

I'm not going to lie: I'm getting super annoyed with this song playing every single time I run. However, I just cannot delete it from my playlist because it's the song I have for my sister.

And now it's stuck in your head. You're welcome.

We rock out to this song on every single car trip we have together, and I specifically remember driving to my brother and sister-in-law's wedding (to set up, I think) and pretty much missing our turn and getting lost because we were too busy jamming to Carly Rae Jepsen -- complete with choreography.

Bad Romance -- Lady Gaga

This song will never fail to remind me of my sister-in-law, Aly.

Lady GAga.

When we were getting ready for the wedding, we had this song on repeat and were rocking out in the limo from the hotel to the ceremony. There is a line where Gaga says, "I don't want to be friends," but since it was after a French phrase, Aly thought Gaga said, "I don't want to be French." And since she was the bride, that is how we sang it. And from then on, that is how I have continued to sing it.

So whenever Bad Romance comes on, whether it's during my race, during a road trip, or whenever, I think of Aly and her wedding day.

Party in the USA -- Miley Cyrus

As goofy as it is (and as much as Katie will probably roll her eyes), this song reminds me of my BFF.

Oh, Miley: what happened?

Several years ago, Katie and I were at Wellman's, one of our favorite local establishments, enjoying a nice cold one by ourselves on the patio. It was a quiet, peaceful evening -- until a busload of fraternity boys rolled up and infiltrated our bar. They were so ridiculously obnoxious and ruining our evening. So, we decided to try to get them to leave, and one of our tactics was to blast annoying music on the jukebox. The first song we chose was Party in the USA, and instead of scattering like mice, the frat boys began to sing along -- at the top of their lungs.

And they proceeded to sing and dance to all of the obnoxious tunes we played. Mission: failed.

Shoop -- Salt-n-Pepa

This is another one of my bestie's (Alicia's) song.

If this doesn't scream early 90s, I don't know what does.

Some people wait until karaoke to belt out a song, but give Alicia a microphone -- with or without backup music and/or vocals -- and she will rock out Shoop in its entirety. Regardless of whether we're at a karaoke bar, in the middle of trivia, or at a wedding, Alicia will bring it.

And, since I've heard this song nearly 18,000 times on my training runs, I will likely be able to join her next time.

Countdown -- Beyonce

Interestingly, this song reminds me of my guys, Shaw and Eric.

Beyonce? Kim Kardashian?

A few years ago, when this song first came out, not only did the two guys know every single word to Countdown, but they also choreographed (or maybe just made up as they went along) a dance for it. At countless parties throughout that year, the boys entertained our friend group with their best Beyonce impressions.

And I will never not think of them when this song comes on.

These songs and these people -- in addition to many others (both songs and people) -- will get me through countless miles over the course of the next six months. I am indebted to my motivators -- and am crossing my fingers that my iPhone doesn't shut down in the middle of a race.

What songs get you through a tough workout? What are your tricks to maintain mental strength when the going gets tough?

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  1. I nominated you for the Liebster Award!! http://kflabuloustofabulous.blogspot.com/2014/04/and-nominees-are.html

    1. Oh my gosh, Kaela! Thank you so much! I'll have to work on this when I get back in town! Thanks again! :)

  2. This post totally made me cry. There is something about music and what it does to you emotionally. I love that you have songs for people and I love my song! I think of you every time I hear it when running and my wedding day. Great post. If you need an Alex song, you can add Born to Run.

  3. "Call Me Maybe" is also on my running playlist, and if I wasn't trying not to die while running, I would definitely try to do our dance moves...