I’ve whinged on before about how my funny ears and tremendously sweaty head make running with headphones somewhat problematic. But many other people – with normal-sized ears who don’t sweat out eight-tenths of their body fluid through their cranium amidst a gentle 4-mile training run – enjoy a little music as they knock out the miles. So, in a vague attempt to be a bit like one of those blogs that people read and think ‘bloody hell I’ve learned something there Keith, I might try that next Tuesday. Isn’t the Internet wonderful? Keith. Keith? Are you listening, Keith? Keith. Keith? Urgh, I hate you and I want a divorce’ I thought I’d list 10 motivational tracks that I’ve stuffed into my earholes and enjoyed whilst running.
With the list come a few disclaimers. After all, musical appreciation is subjective. What I like might not be the same as what you like. Because we can’t all be right. Right like me. For starters, there’s a heavy emphasis on film scores and soundtracks, because I like them. So there. As a result of this, not all of these tracks can be found loitering on the ‘hit parade’, nor will they likely be banging out of a contemporary young-persons drinking establishment on Ibiza. Hmm, that makes this list sound like an aging, weird, cinephile’s obscure vinyl collection. But I’ll let you be the judge of that.
Of course, the utilisation of the motivational magic contained within these selections need not be just confined to running. You could bang them on to get pumped up before a big night out. Or before robbing a post office. Or defrosting the freezer.
Track 1. Say It Like It Really Is by Public Enemy from the album ‘The Evil Empire Of Everything’
I think its fair to chalk this one down in the column ‘when the song was penned, the authors were not considering if it would spur on a polite English chap in yellow lyrca at the 3.7 mile mark’. Also, I’m not much of a hip-hop fan outside of this and a few other, select tunes. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever typed the word(s) ‘hip-hop’ before, and its left me with a rather awkward feeling inside, like hearing your grandparents talk about sex. Anyway, there’s no denying this track’s mix of anger, defiance and urgency at a pace you can set your stride to.
Track 2. Fairwell To The Fairground by White Lies from the album ‘To Lose My Life…’
Nothing too complex here – it’s a pacey, haunting track that mentions running. More specifically, the lyrics are ‘keep on running, there’s no place like home’. The aural equivalent of performance enhancing drugs. And a tad more motivational than the Spencer Davis Group’s 1966 effort Keep On Running which frankly makes me want to keep on running only until I reach the wheels of an articulated lorry.
Track 3. In Motion by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross from the album ‘The Social Network’
Some years ago, I went to Disneyland Paris in the winter with my wife and children. At that time, I was a hefty chap who was furiously intent on losing weight. Disneyland – not the weight-loss capital of Europe. However, I decided to counter-act the inevitable avalanche of calories by getting up at ridiculous-o-clock every morning of the holiday and running around the vast hotel complex in the freezing darkness, with the soundtrack to The Social Network in my ears. Now, if you’ve ever wondered ‘How many people go running at 6am in the dark and cold when they’re on holiday at Disneyland in February, Keith?’ I can tell you that the answer is ‘nobody’ apart from ‘that big, mental English chap’.
Track 4. Marathon by Junkie XL from the album ‘300: Rise Of An Empire (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
The track Marathon is an aggressive, blood-pumping instrumental that’s considerably more enjoyable than actually doing a marathon. And you’ve got that running tie-in again. I’m listening to it again as I type. Oof, it’s enough to make me want to get out there and try to slay an 8 foot tall, golden God-King. As long as I don’t have to run 26.2 miles in the process…
Track 5. Tick Of The Clock by Chromatics from the album ‘Drive – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack’
My Dad would offer three – and only three – different review categories for films. It was either ‘a bloody good film, that’ (usually debatable), ‘too dark to see what was going on half the time…why do they make them so dark?!’ (Goddamn you Hollywood with your day-for-night filters *shakes fist*) or ‘well…nothing happened!’ And it is this latter category that some may transfer similar, musical criticisms to when discussing Tick Of The Clock. But I love its monotonous, electronic, pumping drive. And even if you’re not a fan, I urge you to explore the whole album. Particularly if you’re an angry, angry person, as with tracks like They Broke His Pelvis and Kick Your Teeth and Skull Crushing, there’s something for everybody.
Track 6. The End (Assault On Precinct 13) – Disco Version by John Carpenter (Single)
I’m not often one to criticise the musical tastes of others, but if you don’t find yourself funking [F-U-N-K-I-N-G, just to be clear…] along to this catchy, thumping disco beat with a smile on your face you’ve got a heart of stone. Well, ears of stone. Well, stone somewhere. That said – and in the interests of transparency – I must confess that my wife hates this. And no part of her is made of stone. To my knowledge. As an aside, if you’ve not seen the 1976 classic Assault on Precinct 13, I thoroughly recommend it. It does, however, contain perhaps the most shocking ice-cream van-related scene in cinematic history. You have been warned.
Track 7. Disco Science by Mirwais Ahmadzaï from the album ‘Snatch – Original Film Soundtrack’
Another catchy, pulsing, electronic beat to get you moving. In the film, it plays as a hare is pursued by a greyhound, whilst an incompetent criminal is perused by gangland goons and a pack of angry dogs. Both sound reasons to get running. Use that motivation.
Track 8. Finding The Bomb by The Dust Brothers from the album ‘Fight Club (Original Motion Picture Score)’
There’s something about the organised anarchy of Finding The Bomb that reminds me of the justifiable ridiculousness of running. Plus, the furious undertones, jarring chords, quickening beat and pulsing pauses can be interpreted (by over-analysers such as myself…) as similar elements to those found in the longer, undulating run. The whole album is a good ‘un for running to, with a mention in particular for the last track, This Is Your Life. Those familiar with the film may recall Tyler Durden’s (de)motivational speeches which are sampled in this track. I can tell you, I’m definitely spurred on by phrases such as ‘YOU ARE NOT THE CAR YOU DRIVE!’ and ‘YOU ARE NOT THE CONTENT OF YOUR WALLET!’ and ‘YOU ARE NOT YOUR FUCKING KHAKIS!’ But then that’s just me…
Track 9. New Dawn Fades by Moby from the album ‘Heat – Music From The Motion Picture’
Again, lets not overthink this one – it’s a positive, propulsive, peak-building track, sampled in the movie during a pursuit scene where monomaniacal cop Al Pacino chases after and pulls over Robert De Niro. Great scene, great track. Great running music. Just…well, great.
Track 10. More Than A Feeling by Boston from the album ‘Boston’
Being a father, I felt it apt to end with a favourite of Dads everywhere. Whilst I acknowledge the serene verses may not spur on the flagging runner, once that chorus kicks in men of a certain age everywhere become unstoppable – if slightly impeded by their own flailing air-guitar rendition. Frankly, it’s the kind of musical high that can see a chap start to give the wink and the gun to passing strangers.
On a final and somewhat different note: remember World Vegan Day and that run/diet challenge thing I did? THE MEDAL CAME! And it’s a beauty. Health? Fitness? Wellbeing? Pfft – medals: making running worthwhile.