A lovely 10k, music, and how to deal with earworms

A lovely 10k, music, and how to deal with earworms

I ran a stonking 10k the other day (only my second 10k, ever) and I’m sure one big factor in this (apart from the tasty pre-run pain au raisin) was having the right music to boost my mood and keep me going.

Recently I’ve been doing some ‘naked’ running – in the aural region, that is – but find I get earwormed by utterly random choons that lock into the rhythm of my feet and breathing. For example two things my brain has tortured me with recently include the theme song from American Dad, and ‘Ev’ry Valley’ from Handel’s Messiah. Bizarre. It’s like in Touching the Void when Joe Simpson writes about not wanting to die to Boney M. Except I’m not alone and lost on a glacier dragging a broken leg, obvs.

I find it’s just easier to do longer runs with music to replace the brain-twitter. So I made long playlist of catchy, feelgood classics that would make me smile and want to move (eg anything upbeat by Earth Wind and Fire) or transport me back to my yoof (808 State’s blissful Pacific State).

I started on my run and set the playlist on shuffle, and serendipity played some splendid tricks. The first track on my circular route around Richmond Park was Daft Punk’s Around the World. Perfect! A bit later on, Art Garfunkel warned me to ‘Slow down, you move too fast’, but in the next track, confusingly, Supergrass advised me I should be ‘Moving, just keep moving’. When I reached the crest of the hill in the middle of the park where there are undulating green views and big skies all around, I was treated to the immortal Jimmy Webb-penned Up, Up and Away (one of my guilty pleasures). Then when I ran over a footbridge on the way to Roehampton Gate, guess what came on? Yes, Red Hot Chilis’ Under The Bridge…

How does everyone feel about running with or without music? Or running to a beat? Personally having tried the Stepping Stones and Speed podcasts I prefer to let my feet find their own cadence – I hope that’s not because I’m lacking in rhythm (I confess I have a music-related job!). How about running to audiobooks or spoken-word podcasts?

Here’s a map and breakdown of my run (OK, technically it’s only 9.82k but what’s 180m between friends?). It took me ages to stuff my phone into my armband at the start and get going, and I stopped at a drinking fountain at 7k. I also appear to have fallen down a -28m rabbit hole at around 4.75k – absolutely no clue what happened there!

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18 Replies

  • Cool.

    What program is that you have used?

  • Endomondo - free version, on my phone, but then I logged into the account on my Mac and it gave me all that extra info.

  • Joe Simpson's comment about dying to a Bony M song struck a real chord with me. That was an amazing film/documentary.

  • Totally agree - that's a great moment of gallows humour in an incredibly harrowing story.

  • I find that music makes a massive difference to me, I always do better with ear phones in! I did my fastest mile last week with the aid of Iron Maiden run to the hills etc! I find that the brain twitter as you put it can turn to "you can stop now, no one will care, you can't finish, is that your tummy gurgling again, oh dear, etc etc" but I can completely forget all that with headphones in. I am planning a half marathon in Oct, and this is one of my biggest concerns- how will I do it NAKED!

  • Agreed - I think listening to music that makes me want to dance along translates into more relaxed and energised running, which may on a good day be faster! Hopefully in a group/race situation with lots of other runners the adrenaline and background sounds will carry you along - I quite enjoy a naked parkrun, so to speak!

  • I'm really impressed by how quickly you got out of that rabbit hole ;) !!

    Endomondo does odd things to me too - on my circular route it sometimes tells me I descended something like 184m and ascended 32m. I can assure you that it feels like the other way round.

    I find running to the beat incredibly hard (played flute in amateur orchestra, so like you hope it's not in any way related to musical ability). I often run to podcasts or audiobooks and find it great for having that feeling of freedom and just being able to run, but I do think I run faster with music.

    Looks like you had a great run - definitely living up to the first part of your name these days :) . Think you'll have to ditch the tortoise part!

  • I'm still very much a tortoise compared to many runners - but it's all relative! re musical ability I studied singing at music college back in the day and there are SO many jokes about singers not being 'real' musicians, eg 'How do you know when there's a soprano at your door? Because she can't find the key and doesn't know when to come in' - Boom Boom!

  • great route - I run in Richmond Park too, but have not done 10k yet. I'm running 'naked' at the moment, just focussing on steady breathing, but I've a 'spottify' list I want to download onto my iPod with masses of great music.... just need to have the time to do it. but I like listening to birds too. great run!

  • I love the birds and wildlife - even the screechy green parakeets. Do you do the Richmond Park parkrun? I suspect there are a few on this forum who do - we should totally organise a C25K parkrun meet one day.

  • Ran 'naked' for the first time yesterday and surprisingly found it ok! Podcasts (esp. Desert Island Discs - huge back catalogue available) are my usual run companions and I do love the distraction. Besides the obvious physical challenges of running I've been so surprised how much of the challenge is in the mind and learning to 'speak back to myself' has been hilarious at times...

  • I've found that as my breathing has become less desperate and raspy when I run, (which it is, at last!) listening to myself huff and puff puts me off less. But I still like the distraction of something to listen to. I admire those club runners who casually glide past while chatting quite normally to each other though.

  • I like your music picks and can imagine that guilty pleasure...

    ....is great fun to run to. I'm not one for running to the beat either, prefer upbeat, sometimes relaxing classical music. More recently though I've been listening to the radio, so my playlist is chosen for me.

  • up, up and awa-hay in my beautiful, my beautiful balOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOON!! :)

  • Ooh -- I don't know how you can do it -- run to your own beat while listening to another beat. It's like trying to do a Foxtrot to a Walz tune !!! :)

    I wonder what it would be like to run - and listen to Parliament ???

  • Most pop/rock/disco is around 120bpm and nowhere near my running cadence so I don't find it bothers me - it's only if I walk to 120bpm that I start trying to strut my funky stuff like John Travolta at the beginning of Saturday Night Fever. Which is not really a good look in a 40-something lady. ;)

  • I run to old time American detective show podcasts from the 40's and 50's. I love them and the time whizzes by when I'm immersed in an episode of Dragnet or Philip Marlowe. I've also got a tiny radio so that if I'm out between 5-6pm I cam listen to PM with Eddie Mair.

  • I'm a big fan of Eddie Mair, also like Radio 4 in the car - keeps me sane when stuck in traffic!

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