W4R3 What do you listen to when you’re out run... - Couch to 5K

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W4R3 What do you listen to when you’re out running?

That’s another week completed and some more to think about.

I find myself thinking about upcoming runs and there are parts of them that I really like. I really like Laura telling me to slow down and have a break and I absolutely love it when she tells me I’ve finished and that I’ve run further than ever before. It’s getting harder but I’m doing it and that really is the point. I am in awe of graduates and what I think of as ‘real’ runners who do 5k, 10k and more but the most important comparison is between me now and how I was before. Every post on this forum is a celebration of achievement; just getting off the couch is a big deal and reading how people cannot believe how they can now run and if they can do it anyone and so on, is brilliant.

A few experienced runners have mentioned how they are able to relax and think about things or contemplate the environment as they are running. I’m too busy puffing and waiting for the next break and I find that music helps me to forget how hard a struggle it still is. I tend to play the same album and it’s become almost my lucky charm. I’ve found it harder each week but I’ve done it. (I like saying that to myself). I can estimate how much longer I've got to go by where I am on the album too. So do you listen to music? Do you play the same tracks or do you listen to your own thoughts?

32 Replies

Week 4 crushed!!! Woohoo!

I am currently using the c25k podcasts, so that's all I can listen to, as it has (not great) music built in.

In the past I've listened to house music podcasts when I run or do other exercise. I like one called Above & Beyond: Group Therapy. I like that the tracks all have a good beat, there is only a bit of talking, no break between songs and it changes from sort of darker to lighter. Listening to the darker tracks I feel like I'm in a movie montage where the protagonist is doing all the hard work that's going to pay off to their eventual achievement of the goal. Listening to the lighter tracks sort of buoys me along. Now and then you get one that perfectly fits your mood or surroundings, feels really nice.

There are also podcasts with different speeds (BPM, beats per minute) of music designed for running (PODRUNNER is one) but I think those are more suited for after graduation when you may do a shorter faster run or a longer slower run as the idea is to run to the beat.

Ajn66 profile image
Ajn66 in reply to Amandana

I downloaded a couple of running albums

And have just created a playlist of some of my favourite tracks, I tend to shuffle them tho so I don’t know what to expect 😊 I’m on wk8 and love running to music

in reply to Amandana

Podrunner sounds interesting. Worth checking out for later, thank you.

IgaT profile image
IgaTGraduate in reply to Amandana

I've just checked out the Podrunner. It looks amazing!!! I was searching for such a thing that I will be able to pick music to rpm. I downloaded the mi for W5R3 of C25K from there (130-140rpm). I think it is faster from my regular one. But I really want to check it out.

Thank you for sharing!

DNB2512 profile image

I listen to the birds, the wind, the traffic, my feet on the pavement and my breathing. I really can't understand how canned music could possibly increase enjoyment of running. But I hear it's very popular.

IgaT profile image
IgaTGraduate in reply to DNB2512

I don't have a Fitbit or other Garmin to vibrate or tell me when I need to walk and when I need to run, so I rely upon headphones and all sorts of apps. As I already have headphones on that mute partially surroundings, music was obvious choice for me. I'll probably switch for 'naked' running when I will be doing lonbruns, not intervals on the programme ;)

emily-m profile image
emily-mGraduate in reply to DNB2512

If you don't have it on really loud (which you probably shouldn't for safety reasons anyway) you can kind of do both. I love being outdoors and hearing what's around me. 😎

I started off without music, just the app, but then I found it helped me feel less self-conscious, which was a bit of an issue for me in the first couple of weeks. I could probably do without it now, but the distraction's welcome sometimes, even if a lot of the time I find I'm not really listening to the music much. If I did parkrun, for instance, that'd be without earphones so maybe I'll get used to it eventually.

in reply to emily-m

Thanks emily-m

Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Mix Tape Vol.1 - even had a dance-off at a run event in London with my sister to one of those tracks.

Having said that if it's a nice area outdoors I like listening to nature as well.

UnfitNoMore profile image

Great post... great job on another week down!

I used to listen to music, but recently I’ve been using guided runs on Nike... the headspace ones were where I forgot about running almost completely, I was meditating as I’m used to but with eyes open and legs moving, completely relaxed and totally aware of me and how each but of me was feeling and my environment, the leaves the way they moved in the breeze etc... it was a pretty surreal experience and I certainly ran slow and steady. I’ve used some of their others too including a couple of legends and my graduation run was guided by the legend that is Mo. Spoken word in general has made me less aware of my breathing, as I’ve been focused on the words... maybe I can do that with music too in future, if I didn’t know the tracks.

in reply to UnfitNoMore

I like the sound of headspace. I've often been told that I've got room to spare up there...

UnfitNoMore profile image
UnfitNoMoreGraduate in reply to


Headspace has got me through some bad times and made quitting smoking easy... when they started putting runs on my app they just annoyed me as I wasn’t running 25 minutes at the time 😂

Well done on completing week 4. Nearly half way to graduation already. I also like the podcasts on Nike Run Club but as far as music is concerned it’s gentle classical music that floats my boat particularly first thing when I want to ease into the day.

in reply to newrunnerbrewood

Thank you for your reply.

Bry64 profile image

Well done on completing week 4. 👏👏 The person who inspired me to start C25K said that she listened to music as a distraction from listening to her laboured breathing which once I started I could understand. So I created myself a running list on Spotify which I tweek as new tracks come to mind or I get bored with others and I put them on shuffle to mix it up. I’m sure listening and enjoying my music has helped me to keep going and not to think about how hard it sometimes feels. Recently I had to add more tracks cos my first 9 k was actually longer than my list so the last 1k was run in silence with me very aware of my breathing . For me part of my pleasure of the run is loosing myself in the music which are all loud tracks with a strong beat and usually a memory of a time and place as they span several decades 😂🤣. My eldest daughter heard it recently and said it was an odd mix,very eclectic but then she’s not familiar with the sex pistols 😂😂

in reply to Bry64

Yes it's that 'losing yourself in music' that I find helpful at the moment. Better than gasp! pant! please let it stop!

Hi Poole4752

I always run to music 🎧 I have a large playlist on my phone of ‘running tracks’ basically anything and everything I like that has some tempo or cheers me, and I add to it all the time. Tracks range from the 60’s to current and I always put it on shuffle- I genuinely don’t know what’s coming next! Spencer Davis Group, followed by Ed Sheeran, Tears for Fears followed by Walk the Moon & honestly everything in between. Shuffle makes each run different even if the routes are sometimes the same. Happy running.😊🏎🏁

in reply to FormulaRun

Thanks for your reply.

mrrun profile image

I couldn’t run without music at all during C25K. All l listened to was my favourite music and l never, ever focused on the beat. Basically, I’d never let a drummer dictate my own tempo.

As the runs got longer the music became optional. Long runs at lead to tiredness, mental as well as physical, and the last thing you’d want would be more info hitting your brain.

If your thing is a nice, shortish, relaxed run, please put the music on, the experience can only get better. Once you start spending longer time out there, you will know exactly what to do.

in reply to mrrun

At the moment all I can do is a shortish run! I aspire to a calm zen-like serenity over a longer distance in the future.We shall see. Thanks.

I’ve been playing my house / piano anthems - they’ve helped so far !

Shakywakey profile image

What a great read. You are doing really well 👏👏

I listened to music on C25K. All Ministry of Sound stuff. Now I’ve graduated I’ve actually started to listen to Podcasts.

in reply to Shakywakey

Thank you. The podcasts sound like an idea for the future

seaspaniel profile image
seaspanielGraduate in reply to Shakywakey

No such thing as a fish is rapidly becoming my favorite podcast.

IgaT profile image

What an amazing post! Full of positive vibe, thoughts, and feelings that I can relate to on such a deep level :)

I do listen to my best track that has comfortable rhythm to run to. But sometimes I shake things a little and change tune, or put Laura with her music on. Few times when I was running in pure nature, I took my headphones off, and just listen to the surroundings. Once I've tried Headspace and once I've tried running meditation. I may come back to the last ones when I will be on longer constant runs instead of the intervals.

Happy running!

in reply to IgaT

Thanks for your reply IgaT.

My runs are fifty/fifty with/without music and I really appreciate both, giving very different experiences. I would hate to run all the time with earphones in, since my thought processes are much clearer without. Running is highly productive thinking time.

My music is everything from rock and reggae to world music, classical and jazz all on shuffle so I never know what is coming next. Running has created some amazing new associations with my music.

in reply to IannodaTruffe

Interesting, thank you. At the moment I think I'll stick to the music as I need the distraction from the effort. Hopefully it will become less of a struggle and I can put my legs and breathing on automatic and let my mind wander.

Katnap profile image

Playing the same album becomes a sort of mantra. Gets you into a zone. You know what's coming. Maybe an earworm keeps on replaying in your head afterwards.

It seems to be working for you so keep going? 😸

emily-m profile image

I listen to music but usually random, unfamilar stuff. Sometimes I listen to back editions of Radio 3's Late Junction, which is not your typical running music probably, in fact sometimes it can be a bit out there somewhere! But the unfamiliarity helps my mind to wander a bit when I need it.

As for styles of music, dub and reggae seem really good for me. They have that laid back beat which you can't really run to, exactly, so it's quite relaxing.

I listen to the birds, the river tumbling by, the sheep and cattle... I listen to nature.

No Garmin or Fitbit, just a watch with a timer and occasional at it glances to see how long there is to go...

seaspaniel profile image

I do a mix of music, problem solving in my head and sometimes naked running (running without technology). With today's digital technology there are so many options. Spotify is my favorite at the moment.

I am looking to break a certain time barrier for the 5k and so I put together a playlist where at about 2 mins before that time Spandau Ballet's Gold starts. My only concern is if my Bluetooth headset battery runs out and suddenly the music plays loudly as I stagger to the finish line in a parkrun. Plonker wouldn't be the word for it.

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