I spent far more time than was probably healthy choosing a subject for my first article as Editor of Star News. The plan was to give you all some deep and intelligent analysis of all the cool and interesting music I’m listening to, but I don’t listen to cool and interesting music, and I’ve never tried a deep and intelligent analysis of it. In fact, when I do listen to music, it’s usually when I’m running. So I’ll write about that, instead. Here’s some advice on your perfect playlist for running long distances. Note that not every run will include all four of these stages, and some of them might stay the whole time in one, but I still think the categorisation is useful.
Part 1- Entry
When you start off on a run, you don’t want music so much as you want background noise. Something catchy enough to get a rhythm going, and high-energy enough to keep your spirits up but not complex or interesting enough to distract you from the run until you’ve properly got started. My music tastes are unapologetically cheesy, so my personal favourites for this stage are Belle of Belfast City by Kirsty McColl, and Shake it Off by Taylor Swift. Alternatively, pretty much anything written by Ed Sheeran functions pretty well- it’s not like he’s good for anything else.
Part 2- Inspiration
Now that you’re hopefully heading in the right physical, phycological and musical direction, you can afford to dabble in something a little more interesting. Instead of the cheesy and catchy, for this stage you want something epic and soaring, to raise your spirits and get the blood pumping. Queen is usually pretty good for this- May and Mercury’s music inspire a lot of things, but drowsiness isn’t one of them. Worth mentioning that this music doesn’t necessarily need to be upbeat, just big and dramatic. Adele, for example, works pretty well here.
Part 3- Immolation
Slightly dramatic title for this, but I think it fits. There comes a time in every run when things start getting difficult. It might be after a couple of miles or a couple of metres, but everyone needs a lyrical kick in the ass from time to time. There is nothing (short of being chased by dogs, which, let me tell you, is not fun) to motivate faster running like a high-intensity assault on the earlobes. Heavy metal tends to be my go-to for this (bands like Sabaton, Powerwolf and Five Finger Death Punch- even if you haven’t heard of them, you can probably judge what they’re like from the titles), but I know other people who prefer rap and hip-hop, which I’m too boring to be able to make recommendations about. Eminem. Jay-Z. I don’t know what you guys like.
Part 4- Immersion
Part 3 has passed. You’ve either pushed through the difficult part, or slowed down because of it. Either way, it’s time for a change of pace. Not necessarily slower, but more relaxed, a chance when you can actually enjoy the run for its own sake, rather than just the adrenaline it gives you. The best music for this stage is acoustic and has the kind of lyrics that you could imagine in the credits scene of an indie coming of age film. I like Leonard Cohen and Larkin Poe, but pretty much anything that you feel a little bit pretentious talking about listening to will fit.