I don't run with an iPod -- probably never will.. Earbuds are a hassle, and I don't like being cut off from the environment around me when I'm running. And while I know many people enjoy the distraction of music playing, I think it's just that -- a distraction. I run better when I'm concentrating on what I'm doing and getting in tune with my body's rhythms.
That doesn't mean music doesn't factor into my runs. Quite the opposite in fact. Almost every time I run some tune will creep into my consciousness. I don't know where they come from -- I don't consciously wish for them -- but once a tune gets started it usually carries through the entire run, playing on an endless loop in my head.
Here, in no particular order, are some of the songs that have been in my mental mix tape recently.
"The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" -- The Band.
This one's been pretty common lately. I think it's the tempo, since it matches the cadence I'm trying to achieve with my feet. As a history major, certain lyrics bug me -- "Virgil, quick come see -- there goes Robert E. Lee." Was Robert E. Lee ever in Tennessee after the Civil War? I'm not sure...
"Crown Imperial, A Coronation March" -- William Walton
British march? Check. Pipe organ? Check. This one tends to show up when I'm starting to tire and my mind needs a mental boost. Once it gets rolling I'm more than ready to keep running. I'm ready to conquer a small country.
"Wish You Were Here" -- Pink Floyd
This tends to show up when I running well, gliding along in a sort of runner's high. Kind of ironic, considering I was usually pretty high when I listened to this in college. "Can you tell a green field, from a cold steel rail?" -- always liked that lyric, even though I'm not sure what it means.
"Highway Star" -- Deep Purple
If I'm running tempo or doing speedwork, the driving beat of this rocker is almost certain to show up.
"Bell Boy" -- The Who
Love the driving beat of this Who classic from the Quadrophenia album. Seems to come up most often after a rough day at work. Give it a listen and you'll understand why.
"The Stars and Stripes Forever" -- John Phillip Sousa
I had the trio from this march on a continuous loop for almost the entire duration of a 90-minute run recently. If I'd seen a piccolo player during that time, I'm not sure what I might have done to them...
I've probably missed something, but that's the nature of the beast. The tunes are transitory, often fragmented, and the play list is constantly shifting from day to day and week to week. But it's never boring, and I don't have to worry about carrying something with me while I run. It's all in my head.