Growing up, I always found runners to be a peculiar bunch.
Having played football, basketball, baseball and a little hockey, I thought the cross country kids must have had some kind of chemical imbalance to make them want to run through the woods or through a random field somewhere.
No ball? No score? Nothing?
“So let me get this straight, you just ... run?” I would inquire of them, baffled by the whole pursuit.
My outlook on running has changed. I get it now.
In the past 12 months, it has become something I never would have envisioned — my source of regular exercise.
I’m not sure what prompted that change, but running has given me a chance to be outdoors, to clear my mind and push myself to the limit.
Let me be clear, I’m not setting any land speed records, and I have absolutely no interest in running marathons or half marathons or anything of the sort.
Seriously, a marathon? Do you know why they call it that? In about 490 B.C., some Greek guy named Pheidippides ran 26 miles from the site of a battle in Marathon to Athens.
Then he dropped dead.
I’m not into sports with casualty rates. And I’m especially not into sports that killed the first person to ever try them.
But I have to say, I feel an overwhelming sense of satisfaction when I return home, sweaty and utterly gassed from a great run. Turns out, those cross country kids knew something I didn’t — there’s gratification in exhaustion.
But that level of physical exertion, like most occasions, requires the appropriate musical accompaniment.
Researchers in England recently spent years looking at the links between exercise, heart rates and musical tempo and found that uptempo music — songs with about 125 to 140 beats per minute — can improve your athletic performance.
To put it more plainly, it is unlikely that throwing on the latest Bon Iver or She & Him record is going to produce your best mile time or bench press weight.
This week, songs to help you push through the pain and help you on those sluggish mornings when watching “National Treasure” on cable sounds better than going for a run or heading to the gym.
Just get out there. You’ll be glad you did.
• White Rabbits, “Percussion Gun” — The drums on this track are relentless. Learn from them.
• Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, “In the Hall of Mountain of the Mountain King” — Featured in the rowing scene of David Fincher’s “The Social Network,” Reznor and Ross’ remix of Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg’s classic will leave you feeling epic.
• Does It Offend You, Yeah?, “We Are Rockstars” — Will this song put a little extra skip in your step? “Yeah!”
• The Go! Team, “The Power is On” — Wisely used by the NFL in one of its recent public service campaigns.
• Kanye West, “POWER” — A march masquerading as a pop song. Kanye is a genius.
• Jay-Z, “On To The Next One” — Jay-Z helps you keep the pace. Rhythmic and entrancing.
• TV on the Radio, “Wolf Like Me” — A song that makes you feel out of control in all the right ways.
• Queens of the Stone Age, “No One Knows” — A swaggering, aggressive, in-your-face rock song. Every workout playlist needs one. Or five.
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