Having recently thrown the gauntlet down to all those non-believers who not only run without the mighty iPod ringing in their ears, but also dare to bitch and whine at those of us who are in thrall to Steve Jobs’ meisterwork, I felt myself compelled this evening to mentally compile a ‘greatest hits for runners’ as I plodded along the sea wall.
Admittedly, this wasn’t one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever undertaken, as I’ve been honing and refining my ‘running’ playlist for several years now. While some tracks fall off every now and then, and the very occasional newbie makes it onto the iPod, there are some tracks that just make great running companions, no matter how many years go by.
And so, without any apology for the ageing nerdiness of my fave running tunes, here’s my all time Top 10 To Run To.
1. Edge of 17 – Stevie Nicks. That driving beat. Those soaring vocals. The dreadful association with ‘School of Rock’s’ most cringe-worthy scene (and let’s face it, there’s a bunch of them to choose from).
2. Life is a Lemon and I Want My Money Back – Meat Loaf. Superb, repetitive rock riff. Pounding drums. And it’s also the only rock song ever with a defining philosophical ethos that I’m totally in accord with.
3. Monster – The Automatic. Great intro. Great driving riff. And this was also the song that my son loaded onto my iPod when I last ran the GNR and which totally got me over the hill at mile 7. “What’s that coming over the hill?” Er, me, actually.
4. Into the Night – BB King. Another great pounding riff. Especially good for those of us so ungainly we do most of our running under cover of darkness.
5. Ride Like the Wind – Christopher Cross. OK. so this may make you speed up for a minute, but it’s still one of the great plodder’s anthems.
6. Burnin’ For You – Blue Oyster Cult. Another great pavement-pounding beat for those slightly faster parts of your tempo run.
7. Hollywood Nights (LIve) – Bob Seger. A great driving beat, uplifting vocals, and several nods to my state of mind when I’m on a 10-miler (“He knew right then he was too far from home”). What more could you ask?
8. Jump – Van Halen. Yes, it’s that pounding beat again. Can you see a theme emerging here? The most shamelessly uplifting running track since Eye of the Tiger (which even I’m not unhip enough to include here).
9. Kashmir – Led Zeppelin. Oh alright, so some rap bozo hijacked this once upon a never mind. But who cares, this is a brooding, relentless track that’s kept me going through mile 20 more than once or twice.
10. Dreams I’ll Never See – Molly Hatchet. Yes, I know that the Allman Brothers’ original is far more hip. But the brooding, staccato riff really does the job when fatigue kicks in.
And there we have it. Not just a bunch of great songs to stick on your running playlist, but also a damning indictment of my dreadful old-fartiness.
But there is just one other thing I have to admit – beyond the fact that for me, music reached a zenith in the early 80s and that it’s been mainly downhill since then. I have, in fact, in recent years, acquired another playlist that I embarrassingly think of as my ‘ignition sequence.’ It’s a couple of ‘get your heart started’ songs that I am wont to play in the, well, in the 7 minutes and 59 seconds before the gun goes.
‘Start Me Up’, by the Stones, followed by ‘The Boys Are Back in Town’ by Thin Lizzy…
Trust me, if you can get your heart started with these two, you’re going to be more fired up at gun time than a caffeine-sensitive psychotic after 15 double espressos. The only downside of which is that most races feature inevitable delays which will invariably leave you feeling all revved up with no place to go, should something cause a pre-start hiatus.
All revved up with no place to go? Hmm. Might give that one a try tomorrow night…