Best Running Music Ever – Week 4

headphones4Best Workout Songs
Arctic Monkeys – I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor – Easily my favorite song by a band that has a bunch of good songs to run to.

Drake – The Motto – This song is very brag-adocious which, if I’m having a good race or workout, will help catapult me. I know I’m not fast, but I sometimes feel like Mo Farah (albeit fatter and whiter) listening to Drake bragging.

Foo Fighters – Pretender – A running playlist of 20 of the most uptempo Foo Fighter songs would work for me…

Gym Class Hero – The Fighter – Another song that does a good job of building you up. Love the “…there goes a fighterrrrrr” chorus when you are the middle of some intense intervals.

Kanye West & Jay-Z – HAM – When this album came out, I thought it was strange they had a song entitled “Ham.” Love the acronym, though.

Metallica – Fuel – I challenge you to listen to James Hetfield scream “Give me fuel/give me fire/give me that which I desire” followed by the opening riff and not feel instantly pumped up.

Qemists – Stompbox – A song that was featured in my movie – For Three, this song instantly gets me going. I don’t even want to know what the BPM count would be but if you are looking for the most strikes of a snare drum in a song, this song will do it for you.

Refused – Refused Are ____ Dead (EP Version) – This track is another that has gotten me going for years and years. I really like the rock version as well, but the electronica version gets me into the zone for a good, hard run.

Thrice – Cold Cash and Cold Hearts – Riley Breckenridge, besides being a dude that seems really cool, plays some incredible drums on this hard rock tune.

Waka Flaka Flame – Hard in Da Paint – When I first heard the name “Waka Flaka Flame,” I thought instantly this was most ridiculous rap name I’ve ever (and it still is). This song gets me pumped, though. I noticed last year the Celtics used this as their intro music.

Best Easy Running Songs
Barry Vorzon – Theme from “The Warriors” – This song definitely is from the era it sounds like it’s from (late 70s). I love the movie and strangely the song has been a good running song for me, as well.

Childish Gambino – Heartbeat – This song is a strange collaboration between R&B, hip hop, and whatever genre Skrillex would be considered.

College – Critical Mass – I’m not sure if this song is featured in the movie “Drive” or I just heard it because College sings other songs that were featured in the movie. Really good song for some medium tempo days.

Imagine Dragons – It’s Time – Good to see these guys blowing up. I wouldn’t want to race quarters to this song, but it’s a good song for a putting in the miles day.

Mogwai – Auto Rock – Strangely moving. This song has tremendous momentum. It starts as almost nothing. It builds an amazing song around one really simple piano loop that becomes bigger and bigger until and epic finale.

Mona – Lines in the Sand – Another band, like the Foo Fighters, where I can run to nearly every song. They are a newer rock band that remind me a little of a cross between Kings of Leon and AWOLNATION.

Orbital – Halcyon – And On and On – This is a techno song that goes back. I think I first heard of this song nearly 20 years ago when the movie Hackers (which has aged horribly) came out.

Best Steady State Songs
Against Me! – New Wave – I’ve been running to this song for years. Never my favorite song on the playlist, but never a song I skip either.

Arcade Fire – Neighborhood #3 (Power Out) – The steady drum beat makes this alt rock classic a perfect running song for those medium tempo days.

Audiovent – The Energy – I’ve heard this song about a million times because it was featured on one of the Madden games when I was in college.

Avicii – Levels – You’ve no doubt heard this song pumping on a radio or playing in a Hollister or Abercrombie (or whatever clothing store is trendy with the kids these days).

Blink-182 – Dumpweed – The first song off of “Enema of the State” has been a running staple for years. The verses are pretty tame, but the rapid fire chorus is great to run to.

The Bravery – Unconditional – I’m incredibly bummed that this band (seemingly) no longer exists as they made a bunch of stuff I liked to run to. This might be my favorite by them, though.

Daft Punk – Robot Rock – Much better than the latest Daft Punk, that’s for sure…

Editors – Munich – A criminally underrated song by a band that has a surprising amount of good songs out there…

M.I.A. – Galang (Serj Tankian Remix) – Love the regular version of this song, but the guitars in the chorus give it that extra something that makes it a great running song.

N.E.R.D. – She Wants to Move – A great hip hop song that doesn’t fit the mold of typical hip hop songs. The remix is actually pretty good to run to, as well.

P.O.S. – Drumroll – Short and certainly not sweet, this P.O.S. gem will get your legs going and your heart pumping.

Teriyaki Boyz – Tokyo Drift – Featuring in the Fast & Furious movie that most people either have forgotten or don’t care for, but I really like the Asian sound incorporated in this hip hop song.

Vendetta Red – Shatterday – I don’t think these guys are around anymore, but the last half of this song is fantastic for a steady hard running day.

Weekly Running Report – June 10-16, 2013

Monday – Off

Tuesday – 10 Miles in 1:13:37 [7:21 per mile] – First run in my new Saucony Kinvara3 shoes. Felt really light and nice. My last pair has nearly 900 miles on them, so it was time to go…

Wednesday – 10 Miles in 1:16:00 [7:36 per mile] – Workout day again. Ran the same workout as last week (12×400 w/ 400 meters jogging rest). Ran it an average of 3.5 seconds faster than last week and felt much easier! Feeling absolutely great about that! Felt really strong and never was really pressing too hard. The goal was just to run 1:31s (match what I did last week), but I wound up going 1:29, 1:29, 1:28, 1:26, 1:29, 1:27, 1:27, 1:27, 1:28, 1:26, 1:27, 1:26. Next day, no real soreness whatsoever…

Thursday – 6 Miles in 46:34 [7:45 per mile] – Easy run just getting in some easy miles around the bike path

Friday – 8 Miles in 55:10 [6:53 per mile] – Felt really easy. Ran on treadmill so I could run fast but not kill the legs. Feeling really strong.

Saturday – 13 Miles in 1:47:00 [8:13 per mile] – Was plenty hot and I didn’t have enough water. Did the long run intentionally slow since I burned last week’s long run. Couldn’t have run super fast in this heat. Dropped down to 8:20-8:30 for the last three miles but was mostly between 8-8:10. Rough. Need to recover from that one…

Sunday – 8 Miles in 59:15 [7:24 per mile] – Felt really easy despite having a head cold. Spurs spanked Miami in GM 5. Highest mileage week in a long time and got some quality work in, too…

Weekly Mileage – 55
Monthly – 126.1
2013 – 781.81

Overall, another really good week. Had three quality runs and three runs where I got the mileage in. More than anything, I was really proud of my consistency. This week will be a little trickier because I’ve got a lot of things going on (we’ll call it “life”). Hoping I can schedule around some of the busy things we’ve got going on to get some more goods run in. More than anything, I just want to strive to be consistent as possible. Hoping to run a 10k at a respectable clip. I’ve run the race probably 6-8 times and I’ve not once had a good race on this course, so it’d be nice to run a decent race. I ran almost 9-minute/mile pace two years ago (!!!) although I was about 350+ hours into making a movie at the time and had a daughter that just turned 1 year old, so…

Best Running Music Ever – Week 3

headphones3

I’ve been a runner since February of 2002. Over that 11+ years (and counting), I’ve run a lot of miles. I’d guess that 85-90% of those miles have been solo miles. My training partner has been my iPod and my numerous running music playlists. Or rather, my numerous iPods (that I seem to burn through every 6-12 months). The circumference of the Earth is 24,901 miles. If I were to estimate, I’d gather I’ve run the equivalent of halfway around the entire earth with an iPod on listening to running music. When you run that many miles, you can’t listen to “Eye of the Tiger” or “Don’t Stop Believing” on repeat over and over again. Running that many miles requires a variety of running music. After years of doing this, I’ve decided to come up with what I consider the greatest running music playlist ever. The “Best Running Music Ever” playlist is going to be 100 new songs each week for a complete 12 week training cycle. Each week has a collection of slower songs for your easy days and some more adrenaline pumping songs for those tough workout days. I’ve spent hours and hours putting this together, so I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.

If you don’t already have Spotify, head over to Spotify and download the software for you Mac or PCs. If you want to use Spotify on mobile devices (which I highly recommend), there is a $10 monthly subscription.

Best workout songs
Bloc Party – Flux – One of my favorite uptempo songs by one of my favorite bands…

Brand New – Jude Law & A Semester Abroad – Angst-y songs usually equal really good running songs for me

Doomtree – No Way – Something about this baseline reminds me of “Battle Without Honor or Humanity” from the Kill Bill movies. Spectacular song by the Minnesota natives.

Foo Fighters – The Pretender – I have proclaimed Bloc Party as the greatest running band of all-time. The Foo Fighters definitely would have a bone to pick. They would sit at number dos on my list.

Helmet – Unsung – Another in a long line of 90s rock songs I didn’t catch on to until the mid 2000s. Great running tune, though.

Linkin Park – No More Sorrow – Minutes to Midnight is quite possibly my favorite Linkin Park album (which is saying a lot). This song has a fantastic workout pace. Slow intro (but not too slow) followed by a really intense intro before getting slammed with the chorus.

Metallica – Master of Puppets – There are radio stations out there still playing bits like “Mandatory Metallica” for good reason. As weird as they might be (see the doc Some Kind of Monster), they make really good aggressive music.

Motorhead – Ace of Spades – If you are looking how to drop about 5-10 seconds per mile in the last half of a race, listening to Lemmy’s voice certainly is a good start.

Silversun Pickups – Panic Switch – Love this band. They are incredibly consistent putting out a lot of really good material over the past few years.

Sparta – Travel by Bloodline – I don’t know if this is my favorite Sparta song (I think that goes to “Cut Your Ribbon”), but it’s my favorite “running” Sparta song if that makes any sense.

TI – Bring Em Out – I can’t count how many times I’ve yelled “…it’s hard to yell when the barrel’s in your mouth” on a remote dirt road to nobody in particular. One of my favorite running rap songs.

White Stripes – Seven Nation Army – Are you kidding me? Just one of the great songs of the past 20 years. You’ll hear this at sporting events 40 years from now… mark my word!

Best easy running songs
Angels and Airwaves – Surrender – I love AVA’s spacey sounds for an easy run.

Arcade Fire – Keep the Car Running – A beautiful song by my favorite band that seems to have 14 members who all look like extras from Little House on the Prairie.

Coldplay – Vida La Vida – I remember when Puff Daddy ran his marathon, he talked about listening to Coldplay. I can’t listen to Coldplay on long runs or hard runs, but I really do enjoy them on easy days.

Explosions In The Sky – First Breath After Coma – If you want to go for an epic run, find a really cool nature trail, put on some Explosions in the Sky and just experience life.

Florence + The Machine – Drumming Song – My favorite female Englishwoman (is that a word) has a ton of really good songs to run too.

Grouplove – Tongue Tied – Love the group dynamics with this chorus. Strangely, songs that seem like singalongs make for great running songs even if you don’t actually sing along.

Mae – This Time Is The Last Time (Donnie Vs Reggie Mix) – The combination of the spacey keyboards along with the steady bassline and drumbeat along with a really good chorus make this a really good running song.

Passion Pit – The Reeling – Glad to see these guys seem to be “making it” because when I first listened to them, it seemed like nobody knew who they were. If you are at all a fan of 80s music, their retro sound will be appreciated. This song would’ve fit in really good at a prom dance from 1988.

Phoenix – Run Run Run – As a general rule, any song with that has the word “run” in the chorus is generally a decent running song.

A Tribe Called Quest – Electric Relaxation – A personal favorite. Probably my favorite song by my absolute favorite band of all-time.

Wolf Gang – Lions in Cages – A staple on alternative for the radio for the past few months.

Best state running songs
AFI – Girl’s Not Grey – Prior to this record, AFI was just a little untouchable for the mainstream. They toned it down a little and gave us a classic record. I believe this was the first single, but it’s my favorite “running song” from the album.

The Black Keys – Howlin’ For You – The Black Keys are strange… they are a fantastic rock group that doesn’t necessarily make a ton of songs that are great to run to. This one does the trick for those “just putting in the miles” days, though.

Blink 182 – Anthem – I could run to the entire “Enema of the State” album.

Bravery – Hate… – Love the dark sound and the constant drumbeat. Plus, the lyrics are pretty negative which, strangely, I seem to respond to while running. I don’t want a song that’s speaking to me about butterflies and rainbows. I want a song that screams at me “I will show no mercy for you… you have no mercy for me.”

Dead Prez – Hip Hop – Best hip hop baseline of all-time? How can it not be?

Fenix TX – Something Bad Is Gonna Happen – For their second album, Fenix TX got a lot darker. I really enjoy the metal influences on this punk rock band. I’ll run to these guys any day.

Japandroids – Continuous Thunder – Last year’s phenomenal album provided more than a few good running songs. Who says rock is dead?

Lil Wayne – Ground Zero – I could see this song being quite polarizing. Not a ton of people were into Lil’ Wayne’s attempt at making a rock album. I love running to this song, though.

Megadeth – Symphony of Destruction – Dave Mustaine may still not be over the fact that he’s not in Metallica, but this is still one good running tune.

Midtown – Find Comfort in Yourself – It’s a shame these guys broke up to form whatever poppy band they formed. This was pop punk perfection.

Nine Inch Nails – Head Like a Hole – I used to think NIN (much like Tool) was a band that crazy kids listened to. It seemed like only the crazy kids at school wore black NIN or TOOL shirts. Little did I know how much I would enjoy Trent Reznor’s work many years later. In 1999, if you would’ve told me I’d listen to Tool and NIN weekly and haven’t listened to any songs by Master P in about 5 years, I would’ve called you crazy.

Outkast – Rosa Parks – ATLiens seemed to be their breakout album, but this is the song that brought this band to the next level for me.

Pearl Jam – Why Go – I actually like P.O.S.’s cover version (search YouTube for it) better, but this song is one of the more under appreciated songs by Pearl Jam.

Rage Against the Machine – Sleep Now in the Fire – One of the greatest guitar riffs by a band that has many of them.

The Rapture – House of Jealous Lovers – Dance rock is generally a pretty good genre as a whole to run to…

Sims – Burn It Down – Very catchy yet unique rap instrumental hits you with the beats per minute before the epic chorus.

The Smashing Pumpkins – Zero – Before they started making really weird music, Smashing Pumpkins used to be the kings of aggressive, yet unique sounding rock.

Von Bondies – Cmon Cmon – This song is like an inner voice telling me “you aren’t running very fast.” Coincidentally, I hear that voice a lot.

The Who – Baba O’Riley – If you are someone who thinks “they” first starting making music somewhere around 7 to 10 years after you were born, do yourself a favor and go back and revisit this epic running tune.

Weekly Running Report – June 3-9, 2013

I’m going to try to make a habit out of posting these each week because I used to post these on my blog. I came across come 5 year old posts that were really helpful and entertaining to look back on.

Monday – 10 Miles in 1:09:20 [6:56 per mile] – Watched the Pre Classic on tv during a late night 10 miler on the treadmill. Sub-7 pace started to feel like it used to a few months ago.

Tuesday – 4 miles in 30:00 [7:30 per mile] – Easy running day. Was working on trying to fix my somewhat wonky stride.

Wednesday – 10 Miles in 1:15:25 [7:32 per mile] – Workout day. First actual interval workout I’ve run since November (?!?). The goal was 12 x 400 somewhere between 1:32 – 1:35 pace with one lap jogging rest. Ran 12 x 400 meters in 1:32, 1:33, 1:33, 1:30, 1:30, 1:27, 1:30, 1:30, 1:34, 1:30, 1:32, 1:32 (1:31.0 average). Wasn’t physically difficult, but I had some mental issues I had to work through on the run.

Thursday – 6 Miles in 45:00 [7:30 per mile] – Easy 6 miler watching game on of the Finals on the treadmill. Legs were feeling a little bit of the workout, but not horrible.

Friday – Off

Saturday – 12 Miles in 1:24:00 [7:00 per mile] – Felt pretty comfortably tough. Was plenty warm & humid on the treadmill. Went through 2 shirts- yikes. Calves a little sore but overall not bad.

Sunday – 8 Miles in 1:00:00 [7:30 per mile] – We had a birthday party that afternoon, so this was an early morning run in the rain. Felt surprisingly refreshed.

Weekly Mileage – 50
Monthly – 100.35
2013 – 786.31

Overall, really good week. I had three hard(ish) runs and the rest of the runs I was very conscious to take really easy. I’m trying to make sure I don’t schedule any back to back difficult days if at all possible. This is my second straight week of 50 mpw. Hoping to maintain that kind of consistency all summer. I’m busting out my new shoes (Kinvaras) this week. I’ve been married to the NB 1400s for the past two years, so this will certainly be new to me. No races until the Perham Turtlefest 10k in two weeks. Would be nice to challenge my PR of 41:16 which seems to be right in the ballpark that I could be shooting for. I haven’t set a new relevant PR in nearly 5 years!

Best Running Music Ever – Week 2

headphones2

I’ve been a runner since February of 2002. Over that 11+ years (and counting), I’ve run a lot of miles. I’d guess that 85-90% of those miles have been solo miles. My training partner has been my iPod and my numerous running music playlists. Or rather, my numerous iPods (that I seem to burn through every 6-12 months). The circumference of the Earth is 24,901 miles. If I were to estimate, I’d gather I’ve run the equivalent of halfway around the entire earth with an iPod on listening to running music. When you run that many miles, you can’t listen to “Eye of the Tiger” or “Don’t Stop Believing” on repeat over and over again. Running that many miles requires a variety of running music. After years of doing this, I’ve decided to come up with what I consider the greatest running music playlist ever. The “Best Running Music Ever” playlist is going to be 100 new songs each week for a complete 12 week training cycle. Each week has a collection of slower songs for your easy days and some more adrenaline pumping songs for those tough workout days. I’ve spent hours and hours putting this together, so I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.

If you don’t already have Spotify, head over to Spotify and download the software for you Mac or PCs. If you want to use Spotify on mobile devices (which I highly recommend), there is a $10 monthly subscription.

Best workout songs
The Almost – Say This Sooner – The former drummer (???) of Underoath formed a side band which turned into his permanent band after he was kicked out of the band (???). I believe this all to be truth, but it’s been a while since I’ve read the story. A good heavy-ish song that isn’t so heavy that you can’t run to it… if that makes any sense.

Arctic Monkeys – Brainstorm – I’ve listened to this song probably 500 times while running and it still hasn’t worn off it’s magic. I can move to this song…

Beastie Boys – Sabotage – Another classic. Images of this music video featuring Cochese, Bobby, and Sir Stewart Wallace guest-starring as himself. Another song I’ve heard a thousand times, but it still gets the adrenaline pumping a bit.

Breaking Point – One of a Kind – If you aren’t a WWE fan, like myself, you may not recognize this song. It was used for a long time as the entrance song for Rob Van Dam. Truth be told, I’m pretty good at running to this song on my treadmill and doing the RVD point during the pointing part of the songs.

Filter – Hey Man, Nice Shot – I love, love, LOVE this song as a workout song. It’s fantastic for mile workouts when coupled with another short song. The first minute and a half of the song is mellow before building into a loud, chaotic, anthemic chorus.

Finch – What It Is To Burn – Finch is another band that hits the “running sweet spot” for me. I don’t listen to them very much outside of running. The right combination of melodic screaming and just all-out yelling just pushes me to run harder.

Kid Rock – Bawitdaba – I have no illusions that Kid Rock’s music belongs in the same sentence as Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, and (fill-in-the-name-of-whatever-rock-band-you-think-is-historically-great-here). His music certainly does serve a purpose. Just like “Piano Man” or “Don’t Stop Believing” tricks your mind into thinking it’s time to order another round (or “Who Let the Dogs Out” or “Walking on Sunshine” tell you that this is the slapsticky-fun part of a rated-PG comedy), Bawitdaba does something to bring some aggression inside you to the surface. Probably not a great song to run to on mile 2 of your marathon playlist, but it definitely does the trick coming down the homestretch.

Metallica – One – I’ve got two versions of this song in my iTunes – one them is the full version and another is a song that skips the first 50 seconds of the admittedly slow intro. If you can get through the guitars and guns intro (not as exciting as it sounds), what you’ve got is a song that progressively builds until it builds into a double-bass, guitar-solo calamity of musical chaos.

Papa Roach – Last Resort (Live) – Much like Kid Rock, don’t look for Papa Roach on any “best of” list put out by Rolling Stone. The chorus is a fantastic running chorus, though.

Smashing Pumpkins – Tarantula – Mark this song down as the only good song the Pumpkins have made in the past 15 years.

Stone Temple Pilots – Sex Type Thing – This song might be 21 years old, but it still wails like a newborn rock song. Maybe one of my favorite guitar riffs of all-time…

Thrice – Under A Killing Moon – Besides drummer Riley Breckenridge being one of the nicest dudes of all-time, Thrice made some phenomenal aggressive music. This may border on too hard for many of you, but it does the trick for me.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Heads Will Roll – A-Trak Radio Edit – Just the right combination of electronica and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs…

Best easy running songs
The Arcade Fire – Rebellion (Lies) – Easy to get lost in a lot of songs by this band.

AWOLNATION – Kill Your Heroes – Hard to think a song with “kill your heroes” in the title is a good mellow song, but it is…

Blue October – She’s My Ride Home – One of my wife’s favorite running songs. Heavy on echoing guitars, but with just enough gruff in the chorus to make it very run-able.

Bruce Springsteen – I’m On Fire – One of my all-time favorite Bruce songs

Coldplay – Talk (Junkie XL Remix) – Most regular Coldplay is just a tad to mellow to run to, but this electronica-infused remix is good for those slow-to-medium paced runs.

Kid Cudi – Day N Nite – Might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I find this beat very hynotic on a slower run.

Massive Attack – Unfinished Sympathy – As is the case with a lot of Massive Attack songs, this has a really big, cinematic sound.

The Postal Service – Such Great Heights – If you’ve ever watched a television commercial in the past five years, you can’t possibly claim to have never heard this song.

The Roots – The Seed 2.0 – My favorite song by Jimmy Fallon’s sidekicks…

Tom Petty – Runnin’ Down a Dream – The coolest song with “running” in the title/chorus? I typically find Tom Petty a little too mellow to run to with the exception of this song…

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross – In Motion – Trent Reznor has made a fine post-NIN career making really cool and unique music for awesome movies.

Voxhaul Broadcast – Leaving on the 5th – Saw these guys open for Airborne Toxic Event. They definitely have the current alt-radio sound if you are into that sort of thing.

Best steady state songs
30 Seconds to Mars – Vox Populi – The indie music fanboy in me would like to say I don’t like the band that’s fronted by Jared Leto… but I can’t help myself. That’s one damn handsome dude with a good set of lungs. Wait, what?!?

Airborne Toxic Event – All At Once – TATE’s got some great easy day to medium-tempo running songs. The steady drumbeat along with the ever increasing intensity/volume of the guitars will keep you going mile after mile.

Angels and Airwaves – The Adventure – I was bummed when Blink-182 broke up, but the subsequent albums by AVA have more than made up for the few years of lost Blink material. I consider myself a huge fan of both. This song sounds like U2 singing the Cure.

The Ataris – Teenage Riot – I have no idea if this band is around anymore (quick Wikipedia check – yes, they are), but if you were a single, somewhat jaded dude in the early part of the 2000s, this was your band. They got famous for covering Don Henley, but they are/were much more than that…

Bloc Party – Banquet – Bloc Party is a band I could listen to every single day and not get tired of. In fact, most days, I do. For me, this might be the greatest “running” band of all-time. Expect a healthy dose of Bloc Party on the upcoming playlists.

The Darkness – I Believe In A Thing Called Love – If you first heard this song, you’d think it was more from 1982 than 2002. These guys haven’t really hit it big since this great song, but this song is proof you can still make the classic rock sound in the modern era.

Dropkick Murphy’s – Fortunate Son – The Dropkick Murphy’s aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. They might be a little too gritty and scream-y for some, but I love this cover of the CCR classic.

Good Charlotte – The River – Good Charlotte might be the first band I’d ever “heard of” before they got remotely famous. I was a big fan before they ever had a cd released. I got to meet them at a concert at the Quest (now Epic) Club in the Cities. Despite the fact that most of their fans were teenage girls and they wound up more famous for being in US Weekly than their music, they were incredibly nice guys. They still are on my list of favorite guilty pleasure bands.

Green Day – Welcome to Paradise – One of my favorite live bands ever, Green Day’s energy infused punk rock is fantastic for running. However, a listen to their four latest albums has taught me a simple math equation. Green Day’s older music >>>>>> Green Day’s new music

Guns N Roses – Sweet Child O’ Mine – It’s almost comical these guys can’t put their differences aside. Could Axl Rose decide to show up to concerts on time and the remaining “real” members of GNR (Slash, Duff McKagan, Matt Sorum) decide to put their dislike for Axl aside, their is literally $500 million sitting on the table in a year long stadium team. The band is the perfect 80s rock band and this song is flawless.

Kele – Tenderoni – Kele’s side project feature much more electronica-influenced music than his main band – Bloc Party.

LL Cool J – Mama Said Knock You Out – “Don’t Call It a Comeback!” is a lyric that is nearly 23 years old and still hits hard.

The Matches – Sick Little Suicide – This is a fairly good song by a fairly unknown band. I’ve long maintained that it’s hard to not feel good while listening to some ska-influenced music.

Midtown – Still Trying – It was incredibly sad to see this great band break-apart only to eventually form Cobra Starship. For my money, “Living Well Is the Best Revenge” is as good of a pop-punk album as you’ll ever see.

Motley Crue – Dr. Feelgood – Much like Kid Rock, Motley Crue doesn’t rank incredibly high on the lists of intellectual rock, but something about this band still gets you going.

My Chemical Romance – Sing – This band just broke up this year. I was bummed. While they were never my favorite band, I knew they were going to consistently release 3 songs per album that were going to be fantastic additions to my running playlists.

The Offspring – The Kids Aren’t Alright – I was introduced to this song in 2000 thanks to my purchase of the “Woodstock 99” dvd. A year later, I saw the Offspring in concert and was blown away with how good they were live. They’re still around and kicking (playing 90 minutes from my hometown later this summer!) Basically, they are doing what I hoped My Chemical Romance would do (having 3 decent songs per album that I can run to).

Pearl Jam – Even Flow – It’s hard to imagine that at one point, it was Eddie Vedder and company versus Kurt Cobain and company to determine who was the single biggest band on the planet. As Rolling Stone said, Pearl Jam spent literally a decade trying to tear apart their own fame. It’s tough to beat Ten, Vs. and Vitalogy, though.

Reggie and the Full Effect – Congratulations Smack + Katy – Listening to this song, you can hear some influences to the direction pop-punk took over the next decade.

Slaughterhouse – My Life – Right now, Slaughterhouse hits my rap music sweet spot. This song featuring Cee-Lo is almost a throwback to a better era in hip-hop. I really like the thought of Cee-Lo as the new Nate Dogg. Let’s make this happen…

Third Eye Blind – Graduate – This is kind of a forgotten 90s radio song (strangely, as is a lot of 3EB’s work…), but it’s got enough tempo and grit to make it a really good running song.

TV On the Radio – Wolf Like Me – This is one of those bands that was always showing up on critical year end lists. I didn’t quite get it. I liked them, but I didn’t think they were anything remarkable. Then I heard “Wolf Like Me.” For reasons unbeknownst to me, I’ve connected with this song.

U2 – Mofo – This is by far the most un-U2 sounding song I’ve ever heard. The Pop-era of U2 features much more pop and dance elements than you are used to hearing. I really enjoy watching the ZooTV tour dvd which features this song as the opener.

Wolfmother – Joker and the Thief – It’s funny that this is the song off of Wolfmother’s debut album that has sort of “stuck.” It’s the sixth (!!!) single off their debut album.

Athletic Republic Half Marathon – Race Report


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Coming into this race, the goal was really to have no real goal. Just improve on my 1:40 half marathon I ran two weeks ago in Fargo. Even a 1:40 would’ve been considered an “improvement” by me just based on the course profile (very hilly versus Fargo which had a whopping 8 feet of uphill/downhill in the last 8 miles). I prepared for the race exactly how you shouldn’t – stayed up too late, ate hot dogs instead of pasta, hydrated so-so, and showed up 20 minutes before the start of the race not having picked up my race packet and not ever really knowing where packet pickup was.

Mile 1 – 7:07 – Two weeks ago, the goal was to go out in about 7:20-ish. I ended up running a 7:07 which coincidentally was the exact same I ran this mile. Overall, though, I wasn’t too disappointed. It’s not like I ran a 6:40 or anything.

Mile 2 – 7:19 – Intentionally backed off just a touch. Last race, I ran a 7:03 here with a 10 second shoelace break. So I was pretty happy with the 7:19. So far, the course was constant hills as advertised.

Mile 3 – 7:05 – Feeling really strong here. At this point, I’m hoping to keep this going because I feel entirely different than I did during my last race.

Mile 4 – 7:22 – Really upset because my shoelace came untied here. I’m debating whether I want to run 9 more miles with a shoe untied or suck it up and tied it. Cost me about 20 seconds to double knot both of my shoes. Was disappointed in myself because I made this mistake last race, too. Note to self: when I’m trying to break 1:30, TIE YOUR FREAKING SHOES!

Mile 5 – 7:00 – This was largely a really pretty mile through downtown Fergus Falls. Not a ton of spectators for the race, but there were enough to make it kind of fun. Just a really pretty course, though.

Mile 6 – 7:10 – For the first time in the race, I was starting to feel the legs a little bit. There was one point we took a right and went uphill and into the wind. Was pretty pleased when I saw this mile – which felt like it was slowing quite a bit – was still 7:10.

Mile 7 – 7:16 – Hit the marathon relay at this point. Was really starting to feel it. Hit the halfway point in 46:2x. Doubling that would be a 1:32:40. I didn’t think that was going to be possible. Mentally, I thought if I could maintains 7:30s and finish around 1:36, I’d have been thrilled.

Mile 8 – 7:36 – This was a really tough mile for me. I had forgotten, but this is the most uphill mile of the course. It hurt. Luckily for me, I had a guy that I had passed (and then he passed me – we repeated this process about 6-8 times from mile 3 to the finish). He passed me every uphill (and then I’d get them on the downhills) but I managed to stay close. Without him here, I may have fallen off a bit.

Mile 9 – 7:03 – Got done with the hills and I was just thrilled with how I felt this miles. At this point in Fargo, I ran an 8:07. In this race, I now feel like I’m attacking the course. My legs feel like they’ve got some pop.

Mile 10 – 7:09 – As I hit this mark, I knew that I was capable of running a good time. I actually saw my wife and daughter for the first time here which was a big boost. More than anything, I’m running with a sense of elation simply because I feel fit and I feel like myself. After 6 weeks of taking beta blockers, I was really struggling feeling sluggish. Every single run felt like it was at the highest altitude I’ve ever run at. Now, I’m feeling strong and getting stronger because every mile I feel like I’m gaining confidence.

Mile 11 – 7:10 – Starting to meander back through town. My Grandparents are from Fergus Falls (about 45 minutes away from my hometown), so I grew up sitting in the backseat of the car driving around these streets while my Grandma went and got groceries or while my Grandpa was headed out to the golf course. There was something kind of neat about running a race in a town I’m quite nostalgic about.

Mile 12 – 7:42 – This was the “wheels fall off mile” to a certain extent. I felt really initially catching two runners I’d been anywhere from 25-100 meters behind for about 7-8 miles. I passed the first guy in the initial part of the mile. I could tell he was hurting a bit as his pace had slowed pretty considerably. The second guy had bothered me the whole race. He was an older guy who was running without a shirt on. About a mile or two into the race, he was ahead of me when he stopped, pulled out his camera and took a picture. He proceeded to do this (no lie) 30 or 40 more times during the course of the race. Every time, I’d make up about 5 seconds on him, but he was constantly ahead of me. It just bugged the crap out of me getting beat by a guy who was stopping to take nature pictures! I finally passed him while he was taking a picture on this mile. Although this mile was my slowest and toughest of the race, it was also the prettiest as you ran 1 mile around a little lake that sits in the middle of town.

Mile 13 – 6:58 – Right after I hit the 12 mile marker, we started to make our way back towards the 1 mile straight home. About 300 meters into the mile, I started running into the back of the 5k walkers. While it started off as just a few of them, it turned into literally hundreds of walkers. I know some people have horror stories about dodging 5k walkers, but they had the road completely shut down, so walkers stayed in the right lane and runners stayed in the left. It was actually awesome because all of the walkers starting cheering you on as you went by. I had the music cranked up to 11 at this point, but I could still hear the people cheering me on. My legs were heavy and I was struggling, but I can’t begin to describe how ecstatic I was to find out I ran the fastest mile of the race as my last mile. It’s been sometime since I’ve run a sub-7 mile at the end of a half-marathon.

Final Time – 1:34:08 which was good enough for 8th place overall and first in my age group. I don’t know if that won anything as I had to almost immediately head out to go to a birthday party with my family. All day, though, I was just feeling fantastic. Last year, I really recommitted myself to running. I really wanted to break my lifetime half-marathon PR of 1:31:07. I started by running in the 1:40s at the Fargo half and Perham half marathon before knocking out a 1:36:53 in August followed by a 1:36:23 in September followed finally by my season best of 1:34:53 at the Fargo Mini Marathon. I ran a poor race for the last race of the year, but it makes me feel phenomenal to think that on June 1st, I’m in better shape than I was last year after putting in a ton of work all summer/fall. I’ve worked really hard to get to the point where I’m at now and I’m finally once again proud of what I’m doing as a runner. I know that there are tens of thousands of runners in the world that can clean my clock in a race, but I race to be competitive with myself. And all the hard work I’ve been putting in has paid off as I’m nearing the best running I’ve ever done. I actually am starting an 18-week training cycle this Monday, so I’m optimistic that, of course if I can stay healthy, I may have the opportunity to put up some new personal bests at a bunch of different distances.

Up next, I’m just planning on training. I’ve got speedwork for the next few weeks. I’ll probably hop into some shorter races (Turtlefest 10k and possibly a 5 mile race on or around the 4th of July). My next half marathon (and hopefully at attempt to finally shatter the 1:30 barrier) will be at my hometown Perham Half Marathon on July 20th.

Best Running Music Ever – Week 1

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I’ve been a runner since February of 2002. Over that 11+ years (and counting), I’ve run a lot of miles. I’d guess that 85-90% of those miles have been solo miles. My training partner has been my iPod and my numerous running music playlists. Or rather, my numerous iPods (that I seem to burn through every 6-12 months). The circumference of the Earth is 24,901 miles. If I were to estimate, I’d gather I’ve run the equivalent of halfway around the entire earth with an iPod on listening to running music. When you run that many miles, you can’t listen to “Eye of the Tiger” or “Don’t Stop Believing” on repeat over and over again. Running that many miles requires a variety of running music. After years of doing this, I’ve decided to come up with what I consider the greatest running music playlist ever. The “Best Running Music Ever” playlist is going to be 100 new songs each week for a complete 12 week training cycle. Each week has a collection of slower songs for your easy days and some more adrenaline pumping songs for those tough workout days. I’ve spent hours and hours putting this together, so I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.

If you don’t already have Spotify, head over to Spotify and download the software for you Mac or PCs. If you want to use Spotify on mobile devices (which I highly recommend), there is a $10 monthly subscription.

Best workout songs
Bill Conti – Gonna Fly Now – Half of the reason I put together this list was simply because all of the lists of running songs on the internet seem to include the same 10 songs they always blast before races (Chariots of Fire, Born to Run, Eye of the Tiger, etc). So, of course, my first song on the list is a song that has been beat to death over the past 35 years. It’s a song that inspires me to run fast, though, so it makes the cut.

Blur – Song 2 – “Song 2” is another song that’s been played a million times in a million different sports arenas. I’m guessing 20 years from now, drunk people at bars are still going to be singing “Don’t Stop Believing” and “Sweet Caroline” because they are good songs for the occasion. In the same way, “Song 2” will be around forever because it’s a good pump up song.

Kanye West – Power – “Power” is a song with lyrics that inspire me to run faster. The song is very dark and anthemic, yet the word “power” gives me some really strong mental energy during runs.

Muse – New Born – Songs that increase the tempo or intensity are my favorite songs to run to. This song starts off with a minimalist piano/bass riff for about the first minute before being hit with some ever increasing distorted guitars and drums. Fantastic workout song!

Shiny Toy Guns – Ricochet! – Shiny Toy Guns has some success, in the mid-2000s only to replace their female co-lead singer. I preferred the first singer (Carah Faye Charnow) to the new one (Sisely Treasure), but I find this song – featuring the lead singer I don’t like as much – a perfect workout running song.

Sleigh Bells – Comeback Kid – Sleigh Bells is not everyone’s cup of tea. I can easily how some people would listen to this song and think it’s the shining example of exactly what is wrong with music. In some strange way, the melody of this song is secondary to the sheer noise. Their is something I find oddly catchy about this band, though.

Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross – Immigrant Song – I know some fans of Led Zeppelin will think the inclusion of this song on the list is sacrilegious. I thought, as far as covers go, this is a fantastic homage to the first song. The combination of Reznor and Karen O turns this into a wonderful running song.

Best easy day songs
Band of Horses – The Funeral – A hauntingly beautiful song that both pulls at your heartstrings while managing to somewhat rock, “The Funeral” is one of the best songs you’ll ever listen to.

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – Home – Shortly after Mumford & Sons started banjo-ing their way towards world dominance, a little band that seemingly features 100 different people released one of the most beautiful indie rock songs of the past 10 years.

Emancipator – First Snow (Ooah Remix) – This song always makes me smile. It’s the second song featured my movie debut which I’m incredibly thankful for. For a really mellow song, I can actually fairly fast to this one.

Grimes – Oblivion – Grimes is one of those bands you’ll never hear on mainstream radio, but the college radio scene loves them. Not a song that I’d love to run an 800 as fast as possible too, but it’s a good slow song with enough of a beat that you can run to it on your easy days.

Massive Attack – Teardrop – If you’ve ever watched the show “House” (or about a million movie/tv/video game trailers), you’ve no doubt heard this song. This song is the musical equivalent of taking your daily vitamins.

Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody – It’s impossible for me to hear this song and not think of Wayne’s World. I’ve thrown this song on during the middle of a long run and really enjoyed it. The combination of a song that’s ironically funny (What other song can claim a classic comedy scene AND the greatest arrest video of all time) along with being a legitimately good song.

Phoenix – Liztomania (Alex Metric Rmx) – You could easily run to the non-remixed version of this song, but the remix gives this song a little more bump while retaining the best elements of the original. Sometimes 20% different gives a little more life to songs… especially while working out.

The Shins – Simple Song – The Shins are too laid back to run fast to, but they have a collection of fantastic music that’s great for a nice relaxing run outside.

Smoke & Jackal – This band combines two of my favorite things of Mona (underrated lead singer Nick Brown) and Kings of Leon (addictive basslines from Jared Followill).

The Streets – Blinded by the Lights – In my lifetime, I’ve probably run 500 miles while this song has been buzzing in my earphones. The electronic beat along with the addicting chorus make this song a perfect song for your easy days.

U2 – No Line on the Horizon – This song borders on being more appropriate for a steady state run. When “No Line on the Horizon” came out, the reception was anything but positive. I think the album has some really good cuts, though. This one in particular is great for losing yourself on a run.

The xx – Crystalized – A very stripped down and airy song by a band that does nothing but stripped down and airy songs. This isn’t the song you’d want to hear playing at mile 23 of a marathon, but it’s a great song to occupy your mind during the middle of an easy run.

Best steady state running songs
The Airborne Toxic Event – Sometime Around Midnight – One of the most underrated songs of the past 10 years. Fantastic build-up for running. This would be a good song in the early part of a run. Starts pretty relaxed and gradually builds with each verse.

The Black Keys – Lonely Boy – If you are even remotely into rock music (doesn’t matter the era or sub-genre you prefer) and you aren’t listening to the Black Keys, you are certainly doing something wrong.

Brand New – The Quiet Things No One Ever Knows – Fantastic band that does a fantastic job of mixing musical emotions in songs. Would be a great song for a “musical fartlek” – run hard during the intense, distorted guitar parts and run a little slower during the less intense verses.

Florence + The Machine – Shake It Out – The song has a real anthem feel to it. I really appreciate the unique instrumentation featuring a tambourine, an organ, and much more.

Foo Fighters – Everlong – Quite possibly my favorite Foo Fighters song of all-time, this is a steady state running staple. The steady drum beat and guitars will help those middle miles of a run seem to just fly by.

Futureheads – Hounds of Love – I’d place this song in the first third of any running playlist. I appreciate a good “oh oh oh” to sing along with on a bike path when no one is around to hear me singing.

Head Automatica – Brooklyn is Burning – Love the steady drum beat and memorable guitar riff. This is going to sound ridiculous to you, but the lead singer Daryl Palumbo suffers from Crohn’s disease. Just about any experience runner has experienced the “runner trots.” I hear this song and I always remind myself how lucky I am that I don’t have to deal with “the trots” on a daily basis. Inspiring stuff, huh?

Jimmy Eat World – Sweetness – I can run to just about any of JEW’s uptempo music (no, that’s not a racial slur, but actual abbreviation used for Jimmy Eat World). For me, Jimmy Eat World hits the running music sweet spot.

Justice – D.A.N.C.E. – I actually was introduced to this song, of all things, through a cover by Wale (I think it’s called W.A.L.E.D.A.N.C.E.) If you like bands like Daft Punk or Kavinsky (the French really seem to have a monopoly on catchy dance music), you’ll probably like this as well.

The Killers – All These Things I’ve Done – Some songs have one little section so perfect, it’s worth listening to a 4-5 minute song for one little bit. The “I got soul, but I’m not a soldier” bridge near the end of the song is one of those moments that I always dig when I’m on a run.

M83 – Midnight City – A very atmospheric feel to this song along with a steady drum beat and a great non-lyrical chorus (I’m guessing there is an actual musical term for a chorus without lyrics, but I don’t know it) make this a fantastic running song. Plus, how many songs can you honestly say feature a saxophone solo?

Mutemath – Blood Pressure – The Wikipedia page for Mutemath claims: “The single “Blood Pressure” has given them significant exposure via VH1.” Is that even possible? When is the last time you’ve been “exposed” to a song via VH1. I’m thinking it was Fiona Apple’s “Criminal” circa 1997.

Outkast – Gasoline Dreams – Stankonia remains my favorite Outkast album (although competition is fierce). Love this hip hop song featuring drums and a distorted electric guitar that still manages not to sound like a Limp Bizkit song.

Queens of the Stone Age – 3’s & 7s – Fantastic guitar riff to open the song that connects the entire song. I’ve often wished this song was maybe tick faster which would make it perfect for the later parts of a running playlist. Out of curiosity, I once played the live version and synced it with the recorded version. Just like I thought, they play it just a touch faster live.

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Give It Away – It makes me feel about 100 years old to think that children conceived when this song was released are now 21 years old. The early 90s RHCP stuff is all pretty good for steady state running.

Sam Sparro – Black and Gold – I don’t know if this song is popular or not. I thought I was the only one who’d heard it simply because it was on FIFA 09 which I played during my lunch break every single day for about a year. Then, it showed up as a song featured on “The Voice.” Either way, it’s got enough bounce and a steady beat to make it a good running song.

Sponge – Plowed – A classic 90s rock song that I somehow didn’t discover until 10 years later when I listened to the 90s station at work on satellite radio. The epic guitar intro gets me pumped every single time I hear it out on a run.

Stereophonics – My Own Worst Enemy – This is one of those strange “new” songs that’s featured on a greatest hits album. Strangely, it’s my favorite song by Stereophonics and I’ve also found it makes a good middle-of-the-run, pounding-the-pavement running tune.

Two Door Cinema Club – I Can Talk – A strange combination of dance-punk and synthpop, Two Door Cinema Club has a number of songs that are “run-able” but this one tops the list for me.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Head Will Roll – I’ll often run to the remix by A-Trak, but the original is a killer running song. It’s been strange to watch Karen O evolve from a gothy-looking indie chick into a strange female amalgamation of David Bowie and Cee-Lo Green, but the music still rocks.

Yellowcard – October Nights – This band has seemed to fade away which I found unfortunate since so many of their songs are so good to run to. The song is under-produced compared to their future releases, but it’s a great medium tempo running tune.

Fargo Half Marathon – Race Report

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This is the 7th time I’ve run this race, but it was the first time I’ve ever run as a member of a charity group (Alexa’s Hope). A friend of mine formed a team in honor of his sister (who was a runner) who died of a brain aneurysm and saved many lives through organ donation. Alexa’s Hope charity was founded by the parents of a 14-year old girl who died while waiting for a double lung replacement. Really sad stuff. I was honored to wear the bright green t-shirt in her honor. Having gone through the medical nightmare that I have over the past 6 weeks, I am very aware that I could very easily be on the other end some sort of charity run. In all honesty, I’m thankful beyond words that I’m able to toe the starting line and feel somewhat normal. One of the nicest perks about being a charity runner is having a conference room along with all of the other charity runners. Instead of standing around with thousands and thousands of others, there were about 100 people in a giant conference room. You had space to breathe. And, most importantly, bathrooms that weren’t crazy busy (or port-a-johns).

Mile 1 – 7:07 – Two months ago, I was well on my way to running a huge PR. I thought something in the 1:25-1:27 range certainly wasn’t out of line with what I thought I would be capable of. Breaking 1:30 is a huge goal of mine. Coming into this race, I had a strange few weeks of training (no fault of my own, really). I didn’t get a chance to run any other races. I hadn’t done any real speed work for 6-7 weeks. In all honesty, I had no idea what I could run. I tried to run a workout on Monday that would indicate I was in sub-1:30 pace. It failed miserably, but at least it taught me something. Not knowing what kind of time I should shoot for, I threw a dart at the wall and guessed 1:35-ish (which would be about 7:15 pace). Was hoping to be closer to 7:20 for this first mile, but overall not bad.

Mile 2 – 7:03 – A little quicker than I was hoping for, but I’m feeling good. I actually even lost about 10 seconds this mile tying my shoe, so I definitely wanted to back off a little bit, though. I’ve got no problem running 7’s, but if I’m going to do it, I’d rather run 7:20s for a few miles and progress down to it from 6-11 or something like that.

Mile 3 – 7:16 – This is more where I was hoping to be. Was hoping to see my daughter and extended family during this mile, but I missed them completely.

Mile 4 – 7:22 – Still feeling good at this point. At this point, I’m 12 seconds ahead of where I wanted to be, but I wish I would’ve went about it a different way. Still confident that I can run a strong race here which is the only real goal.

Mile 5 – 7:34 – Very pretty mile. This is a straight mile (one of only two in the whole course), which was much appreciated. Fargo may have a reputation of being somewhat of a small and/or boring city compared to other metropolitan areas, but one of the greatest things about this race is how many fans it brings out. There are no “lulls” in fan support in this race. There are literally fans lining the course 100% of the time you are running. Very awesome!

Mile 6 – 7:21 – Starting to “feel it” a little bit. I’m a little miffed because I thought given my pretty good cardio base, I wouldn’t start to feeling this discomfort for another 3-4 miles. Pushing through 3 miles of some serious discomfort is one thing, but pushing through half the race wasn’t something I was hoping for.

Mile 7 – 7:30 – We’ve reached the “turnaround” point. While the course isn’t a straight out and back, there is a two block overlap where you see runners few minutes ahead of you and a few minutes behind you. I see my friend Derek (went on to run 1:32) who is looking really good ahead of me and my friend Vaun (who went on to run 1:39) who is looking really good behind me. Why is everyone looking good and I feel like garbage?

Mile 8 – 7:30 – At this point, I know the last few miles are going to be a bit of a death march. I’ve had half marathons where I’ve felt like a world beater at mile 8 and half marathons where I’ve felt like the slowest man on the planet who spends more time contemplating the reasons why it would make sense to drop out. It wasn’t that bad at this point, but I actually was really surprised to see this mile as fast as it was. It felt like I was fat man shuffling around 10 minute pace.

Mile 9 – 8:07 – Actual mile time is a little quicker than this. For the first time, I saw my family and I stopped to say hi to my 2-year old little girl. My time wasn’t going anything I was going to brag about, so if I finish 30 seconds later than I would’ve had I not stopped, I didn’t really care at this point. I’d given my family a plan how they could see both me and my wife Sara about 3-5 times, but for whatever reasons, this was the only time I saw them on the whole course. I was a little bummed about that…

Mile 10 – 7:48 – Kept it under 8 which is the only real goal at this point. Again, this felt a whole lot slower than it actually was. I suppose that’s a positive to take out of this.

Mile 11 – 8:06 – Here’s the downside to setting your playlist beforehand. I always start the music slow and progressively build to some very fast, aggressive music towards the end. However, when you are running a full minute slower than you’d hoped to be running (and, once again, it felt even slower), you feel kind of dumb. Here I am running a pedestrian pace running to this super aggressive, pump up music.

Mile 12 – 8:35 – This mile sucked. Up until this point, I was thinking I could run in the 1:38s. I know that no matter how bad I’m feeling, I can suck it up and kick it for one mile at the end of the race if it means I can hit a certain time. At this point, I know that I’m going to be smack dab in the 1:40s (blah!). I keep a look out behind me because there was an article about a college kid who was running while juggling and hoping to be about 1:40. I don’t care how bad I’m feeling – I’m not getting beat by a juggler.

Mile 13 – 8:09 – My friend Vaun caught me this mile. I ran about a quarter mile with him. He was still strong so I let him go and cheered him on. If I were a little bit mentally tougher, I’d have try to hang in with him. Admittedly, though, I’d kind of thrown my chips in earlier this race and I just didn’t really care at this point. That’s certainly not the attitude to have and probably is something I need to work on in the future. In all honesty, though, besides the obvious fitness losses, I think going 6-7 weeks with no speed work coming into this race hurt my race day mental toughness and overall confidence. I’m hoping to develop that a little more over these next few months of training.

Last .1 – 0:49 – One of the coolest finishes of any race ever. You take a sharp left turn and head into the service entrance of the Fargodome for the last hundred meters or so. You can check out my finish here. I’m the guy in the red shorts, long black songs, backward hat and bright green shirt who’s not really kicking it in. I finished in an official time of 1:40:22 which averages out to 7:40/mi.

Overall, I’m not really pleased with my time because I think it isn’t quite an indication of all the hard work I’ve put in. Since August, I’ve been very consistent in my training. January thru March, I was running workouts at a level I’ve never run before while consistently running at least four days a week.

Because of my 6 weeks on interrupted training along with being put on a drug that slows your maximum heart rate (beta blockers), I just had six weeks of training that were mediocre at best. I actually only got off the beta blockers a few days before the race. Given all that I was dealing with, I’m 0% bothered that my time wasn’t a PR or wasn’t under my goal of 1:30 simply because I’m happy to be running and training like normal again. Had I run this race on beta blockers, I would’ve finished in 2+ hrs and would’ve been miserable in doing it. As it was, I felt sluggish towards the end of the run, but somewhat strong as a whole. I think at the end of the day, I can be proud that I trained really, really hard to run what turned out to be a mediocre race. The result was somewhat out of my hands. Had I not stopped to tie my shoe twice, say hello to my daughter, and pushed a little hard in the last few miles, could’ve I have snuck into the 1:38-ish range? Sure… maybe. As it was, though, I’m very proud to be back on the path towards hopefully one day reaching my goal.

Y’all Ready For This?

Fargo Marathon

For the seventh time in my life, I’m spending today preparing for running the Fargo Half Marathon having no real idea what kind of shape I’m in. I think I’m ready to run (moderately, for me) fast.

Last year, I ran a 1:43:16 half marathon. Looking at my training, I ran 127 miles per week in January, 163 in February, 63 in March, 35 in April, and 47 in the half month leading up to the half in May. Good start to the year, but hardly the ideal training if you want to run the half marathon.

This year, I’ve run 161 in January (+34), 146 in February (-17), 139 miles in March (+76), 91 miles in April (+56), and 87 miles in the half month leading up to the half this May (+40) for a total of 189 more miles in the first few months of the year compared to last year.

When comparing my top few runs of the year, I seem to be ahead of the game as well. In January of 2012, my best workout was 5×1 mile at 6:40, 6:35, 6:31, 6:27 and 6:07 (6:28/avg) with 2:30 rest. In January of 2013, my best workout was 8 miles with no rest in 50:30 or 6:18/mile. On February 28th, 2012, I ran 10 miles in 1:11:20 (7:08/mi). Coincidentally, on February 28th, 2012, I ran 10 miles in 1:05:00 (6:30/mi). My best run of March 2012 was a pretty pathetic 6 Miles in 42:38 (7:06/mi). This March, I ran 7.62 Miles in 47:27 (6:13/mi). The difference in my shape wasn’t even close. Then, I had my “medical setback” at the end of the month. Despite being on medications that slowed my heart rate and really affected my body, I was able to run 12 Miles in 1:31:50 (7:39/mile) which was significantly better than my best run of April 2012 (4 miles in 30 minutes – 7:30/mile). My best run of May leading up to the half in 2012 was 6 Miles in 46:30 (7:45/mi) compared to the 7.78 Miles in 56:00 (7:11/mi) I did this year.

Everything in this training cycle hasn’t gone perfect, but I’m certainly in better shape than I was last year. I think running a sub-1:30 (which has been a huge goal of mine since I ran a 1:32 half marathon at the tender age of 23 in 2005) may not quite be in the cards, but I’m hoping to have a positive experience. I’m hoping to continue my motivated training with the goal of maybe one day going under 1:30 with a solid summer/fall of consistent training.

Two weeks!

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I’ve run the Fargo Half Marathon 6 times. Other than the very first Fargo Half Marathon (2005 when I ran my second fastest ever half in 1:32:53), they all have had one thing in common. I’ve not run particularly well. I could make a laundry list of reasons, but I’ve either been busy with basketball and not trained, been injured, or ran with others. I’ve always said I’d really like to run that even fast, though. I’ve always thought if I was fit, I could finish in the top 50 of a race of over 5000 runners. Last year, 50th place was 1:27:11 which doesn’t seem crazy out line for what I could possibly run.

This year was the first year in a long time that I actually consistently trained through the entire winter. This year, I’ve already run 157 miles more than I had at this point last year. My workouts have been phenomenal. I was to the point where I could very comfortably run 10 miles at 6:30 pace. I got myself to the point where I was running 8 miles near 49 minutes which is just mind boggling for me. It’s way ahead of any sort of fitness I’ve ever had.

Unfortunately, as I really started to amp up my training, I had a bit of setback (11 setbacks to be exact). I spent a few days in the hospital and got put on a medication (beta blockers). I didn’t think it was going to be too bad, but it was a miserable drug. It made me so tired I was falling asleep at 6:30 PM some nights. I gained somewhere between 10-15 pounds in a month. Worse of all (for me), it slowed my running by about 1 minute per mile.

This was all incredibly disappointing news to me. I had a huge goal of breaking 1:30 in the Fargo Half this year. I ran a 1:32 in 2005 and a 1:31 in 2008 along with a handful of races in the 1:33-1:36 range. Last fall, I rocked out a 1:34:53 which gave me confidence that I could definitely dip under 1:30 with some training. The training was going incredibly well until my setback. Now, a return trip to the doctor has resulted in me being able to wean off the beta blockers meaning no more falling asleep right after supper and hopefully I’ll be able to run a respectable half marathon in two weeks.

Although I don’t know what my prospects of breaking 1:30 are (probably fairly slim), I’m excited that once again I can just be myself. No performance “de-hancing” drugs holding me back. Even if I don’t break 1:30 this time, I’ve got a chance to put in the training and run some good races this summer/fall.

Lance Armstrong – Douchebaggery Personified

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For the last few weeks, Twitter was abuzz with news that Lance Armstrong was finally going to come clean to Oprah. Amazingly, a fake dead girlfriend seemed to one-up Lance’s admission to using performance enhancing drugs, but like millions of other Americans, I set my DVR to see what this was all about.

I wouldn’t consider myself a fan of competitive biking. Being from Minnesota, I obviously am well aware of Greg LeMond and his accomplishments. I recall watching the Tour de France along with some other random bike races when I was a kid on ESPN during the days in the summer. Before Lance, though, the sport had nobody I could really connect with. Watching it was simply a way to alleviate boredom in between Little League practice and riding my bike over to a friends house to play Street Fighter 2. As a sport, it was as relevant to me as The World’s Strongest Man Competition or those outdoorsy competitions where two burly men would try to chop a log quicker than the other.

Then Lance came along and changed the game. His greatness in sport, especially combined with his background in beating cancer, captivated a nation. His awards were numerous (Sports Illustrated athlete of the year, USOC Sportsman of the year (4x), AP Male Athlete of the Year (4x), amon gmany others). His achievements outside of the sport were remarkable (quick question… how many other bikers have you seen on Leno or Letterman?) His bankroll? Plentiful. His accomplishments in regards to fundraiser for cancer? Remarkable.

Right around the time Lance was at his peak, I started running marathons. A good friend gave me a copy of Lance’s biography “It’s Not About the Bike” for Christmas. I enjoyed his tales of working hard, but found Lance himself to be someone of a difficult person to like. In fact, the more I more I read and heard about Lance Armstrong, the more I thought he came across as an egotistical douche.

Over the past few years, I’ve heard countless stories of Lance Armstrong. Other than stories involving kids and/or cancer, he’s come across as an incredible jerk.

Coming into the tell-all interview with Oprah, I’m expected to see a Lance Armstrong who’s somewhat humbled, somewhat humiliated, and changed for the better.

Instead, I see the exact same Lance Armstrong I’ve come to know for the past 10 years who looked like he was sorry that he got caught. Many have credited Oprah Winfrey for being a “tough” interviewer, but I just didn’t see it. She asked the sometimes tough (albeit obvious) questions, but she didn’t really follow up and never really challenged him. She never really twisted the knife and made him uncomfortable. She never questioned whether or not he has human emotions (I’m not sure, for the record). She never asked why he didn’t come forward earlier with so much evidence against him. She never questioned why he was so certain he wasn’t cheating in his second comeback (Science seems to think he was) and why it mattered? She never questioned his motivations when it comes to money.

None of that should be surprising. If Lance was truly remorseful and wanted to come clean, he would’ve asked a journalist like a Bryant Gumbel that would’ve asked the hard questions and then questioned the sincerity of his responses. Lance wanted Oprah because Oprah, like Lance, is full of herself and understands how to ask a hard question without asking a hard question. Oprah understands Oprah. Like Lance, Oprah’s entire “brand” is a facade. She appears sympathetic. She appears to ask hard hitting questions. She appears to be deeply touched by the lives of those who graced her show every Monday thru Friday for years and years and years. I always viewed her as someone who was successful at pulling on the heartstrings of America, making puppy dog eyes, and insincerely telling her guests “I’m sorry” while stacking fat sacks of cash. Every time a middle school teacher slept with her student, a celebrity gained or lost 20 pounds, or someone needed to come out of the closet, Oprah was there to make another ten bucks. The fact Oprah’s star has waned with the lack of success from her OWN network made Oprah made her the perfect interview candidate for Lance. In a way, this whole interview was like how the fighter between Rocky Balboa and Thunderlips (Hulk Hogan) was supposed to go down in Rocky 3. Go in there, throw a few jabs that look a little worse than they really were, and celebrate with a beer together afterwards.

To me, the fact that Lance Armstrong doped isn’t the story. Everyone doped and everyone lied about it. The bigger story is how he mistreated his bike mechanic, his masseuse, and David Walsh. The list of people he bullied (Betsy Andreu, Greg LeMond, numerous former teammates, USADA) is almost too long to list.

Yet, when asked by Oprah why be such a bully and essentially ruin lives, he would essentially excuse himself as being hyper-competitive and he saw them as challenging him. As you watched him be interviewed, you could see that Lance had excused himself for what he had done. What’s worse, you could feel that he didn’t even feel bad about it. Again, he felt bad that he got caught and he felt bad that all of the fame, glory, and money was gone. He felt bad that’s he’s not able to compete anymore.

“I deserve to be punished. I’m not sure I deserve the death penalty”

Lance said this line (or something similar) repeatedly. Never once did Oprah ask him “What penalty do you think you deserve?” I’d be curious to what his response was.

I think professional runner Lauren Fleshman really nailed it in her letter to Lance Armstrong. He cheated and he deserves to suffer the consequences. From Fleshman’s article:
A doctor who intentionally harms a patient will never practice medicine again because the central tenet of medicine is to “do no harm.” A lawyer who lies under oath or commits a crime will never practice law again, because adherence to the law is the foundation of their profession. If a financial planner steals a client’s money, if a teacher has a sexual relationship with a student…each profession has its unforgivable sin, and in sports it is doping. I do not wish for you to go to hell, or live a miserable life…I simply want you, along with all the other cheaters, to find a new profession so that mine continues to mean something.

I think that’s exactly where I’m at. He cheated, lied about it, bullied people about it, lied about it again, made a comeback in 2009-10, cheated again (he’s still lying about that one), got caught, lied about it, posted an incredibly douche-y picture of himself in front of his 7 yellow jerseys, and came clean once it seemed all other options to continue lying/bullying/being Lance were exhausted. To allow him to serve a two year ban and come back and compete in triathlons would not only do a disservice to his teammates who came clean earlier yet served longer suspensions, but it would do nothing to deter future competitors to dope.

By his own admission, he doped for over 10 years (I think the true figure was closer to 15). Is Lance Armstrong the first athlete who’s cheated? Nope. Is he the first terrific athlete who seems to be unlikable? Stories of Michael Jordan, Kobe, Tiger Woods, Kevin Garnett, and thousands of others would lean towards no. But exactly what has Lance Armstrong done to deserve to be re-embraced by you and I? I’m not so sure.

As an enormous fan of running, I can tell you for certain that there are hundreds of professional runners that, by and large, seem like really good people who work extremely hard. Choose one of them to support. Let’s all agree that while he once was the greatest cheater among all the cheaters, Lance seems like a hard-working, narcissistic douchebag who just needs to go away.

Race Fee Ridiculousness

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I’ve been training really hard lately. I mean really, really hard. I’m in what I feel like is the best shape of my life. In 2008, I ran a 1:07 10 mile race (6:42 pace) that I consider my best race I’ve ever run. Right around that time, I ran an 8-mile tempo in 53 minutes (6:37 pace) and I ran a 17 mile long run in 1:57 (6:52 pace). Last week, I ran that same 8-mile tempo on the treadmill in 52:46 (6:35 pace) and am hoping to build on that. My goal is to run some really fast race times this spring once the snow and ice melt at a variety of distances.

I know my first race will be coming up in a couple weeks when I run the Perham Freeze Your Face 5k. I love supporting our local cross country team, but I also love the fact that they keep their race fees reasonable. In fact, all of their races are reasonable. The two 5ks they put on during the year cost $20 ($25 if you wait until race day) and the half marathon is $35 ($40 on race day). The races are very professional with accurate courses, water stops, food at the finishing line, chip timing, bathroom facilities, and partially closed courses (or at least people there to stop traffic at intersections). It costs a certain amount of money to put on a quality race, but why is it that our races are a tremendous fundraiser yet are still cheaper than most races?

On a nice(ish) weekend March thru November, there is nothing I would rather do than run a race. Except, I’m not sure how many races I’ll actually enter. In 2012, I ran 14 races which is about the same amount that I ran between 2008-2011 combined. I have a handful of races that I’ll always run if I’m not busy no matter what, but race fees have me really questioning how many races I should be running.

There are a handful of races in my own backyard that just don’t make sense to me. $35 to run a 7k (~4.4 miles) in Pelican Rapids (20 miles away). $60 to run a half marathon in Nisswa (about an hour drive). A ten mile race just 10 miles away from me that costs an absurd $60. The absolute worst offenders are the new “themed” races. Care to run a “Warrior Race” or a “Color Run”? That’ll be $70-100 for a 5k. I’m sure they are a lot of fun. But for that same $100, I can either
a) run a 20-40 minute race or
b) go see a few bands I really like such as bandsRa Ra Riot, Atmosphere, and Gaslight Anthem and still have enough money to get a moderately decent seat to a Timberwolves game and Twins game. Probably would even have enough money left over to pay a babysitter.

Races are one area in my life where I’m not opposed to spending money (See: 14 races entered in 2012), but something needs to be done about the $30-35 5ks, $40-60 10ks, the $60+ half marathons, and I won’t even get started on the full marathons. Want to run the 2013 NYC marathon? I’m sure it will increase over this year’s $255 ($60 of which goes to NYPD).

What makes me upset is when you run an expensive race and can just see it just a cash grab for some organization. If you put on a $60 half marathon, I’m going to directly compare it with the Fargo Half which is equally expensive, but, in my opinion, one of the best run races in America (despite having the same mediocre shirts year after year). Usually, if I run an expensive race, I expect a marked course that is accurate and organized. I expect traffic control of some sort. I expect accurate (and possible chip) timing. I expect finishing snacks, a decent swag bag, decent support on the race course, and a race drink that doesn’t taste like last year’s watered down, powdered Powerade. If you’ve got an unmarked course, some questionable timing, no finishing snacks, or no organization whatsoever AND the audacity to overcharge me for a race, it will be the last time I ever run that race. For the past (many) years, I’ve run a local 10 mile race that is neither organized or accurate. However, it is $10, so despite my race report complaints that the mile markers are as much as 0.2 miles off, I will continue to run that race.

I really wish more races would do what local running club Lakes Agassiz Pacers experimented with last year. They had two price points… the higher price point was for people who wanted whatever goody (shirt, bag, hat, etc) went with the race. They also had a cheap option (sometimes as low as $5-10) for people who didn’t need a shirt, but just wanted to run the race. I really hope more people run with this idea. However, running is a sport that has an extremely high participation among adults by the highly educated and compensated and sometimes I feel we, as runners, are taken advantage of because of this.

Which is fine. Just know I’m know that a guy that you could count on to run your $20-25 5k or $35 half marathon for the next 10-20 years is never going to pay $40 for your 5k or $60 for your half marathon.

Which brings me back to my treadmill 8-mile tempo run the other day. I had more of a sense of personal accomplishment from running 6:35 pace on a treadmill for 8-miles than probably any other race I ran all last year. I’m sure I will bite the bullet and run a few races with questionable fees this year, but I really wish race organizers would get this in check. It’s getting ridiculous.