What’s Your Workout Jam?

So the question of the day is | what music do you workout to?

Early on when I started running, I trained myself to run without music. That might seem odd for somebody who grew up around music and has worked with music for most of his adult life, but I did it because most races, at the time, didn’t allow runners to wear headphones. I figured that I better get used to going without.


I came to find some other advantages to running without music | while most people might find a nice escape in the music, I deal with music all day, so silence is a nice escape for me. I also run with friends a lot, and it seams rather rude to put in ear-buds and ignore them while we run.

That said | I did do my first few runs with an iPod and it was nice to have the music.  Since I was new to running and couldn’t run long distances yet, I would make deals with myself | “Run through the next song…and then you can walk for a song.” That might seem like a fair deal, but I swear every time I’d make the deal, a 12 minute Grateful Dead song would come on for the run portion…and then a 1:57 Ramones song for the walk portion. Two problems with this | 1) I really needed the walk time and 1:57 wasn’t enough to get me ready to run again, and 2) the Grateful Dead tune was usually a slow song, more suited to walking, and the Ramones song would be a frantic pace, more suited to running.

Even after training myself to run without music, I still had music in my head during runs and rides. Sometimes the songs in my head would relate to what’s going on around me | riding through a thunderstorm (don’t do this), the soundtrack in my head would be “Riding the Storm Out” by REO Speedwagon (weird, that’s twice in the last week that song has come up), during hill repeats it might be “Running Up That Hill” from Kate Bush, and sometimes songs just pop into my head for no reason at all.

The worst soundtrack came during Ironman Wisconsin in 2008 | it was one of those times that the song got in my head for no reason…and it wouldn’t leave!  “Truckin'” by the Grateful Dead was the song of the day (weird | that’s the second time the Grateful Dead have come up today). I got on the bike and started singing it to myself…all the way out to Verona and then through the first half of the loop.  Over and over and over again. As I climbed the Old Sauk Pass hill and rode through the crowds that gather there, I finally cleared my mind of the song.  And then it happened…as I rode down Timber Lane and across Mineral Point Road, there was a guy standing by the side of the road, holding up a big sign that read…

Keep on Truckin’

I thought about getting off the bike and punching him, but was able to let it go | probably figuring that by that point in the race, that would take way too much energy. Eventually I got off the bike, changed into my run gear and hit the run-course…to a little Tom Petty | “Running Down a Dream.”

So, do you workout to music? If so, what’s your favorite? What pumps you up? What motivates you to push harder?