Music for Your Miles

My trusty old Nano

My trusty old Nano

Any runner knows that a well-developed playlist can get you through the crappiest of runs. While I also like to run without music to just enjoy the moment, many of my runs have a soundtrack provided by my trusty iPod Nano. This week I decided to share some of my go-to tunes that keep me going on even my worst running days.

Not all of these are the fast-paced, in-your-face songs you may expect. Here are just a few songs that have made multiple playlists over the years, along with some newer additions:

1. Beautiful Day – U2: Sometimes it’s nice to stop and think about how grateful you are to be out and about enjoying your miles.

2. Neva Scared – Bone Crusher: An underappreciated little diddy from 2003, this one is sure to help you get yourself together when you think you can’t take one more step.

3. Roar – Katy Perry: Sorry guys – this is probably more of a “girl power” type of thing.

4. I Will Wait – Mumford and Sons: This may seem like an odd running song, but I actually have a few Mumford and Sons songs that I use – who doesn’t get jazzed up by a banjo?

5. Outta Your Mind – Lil’ Jon & LMFAO: It’s just so angry and driving – you have to love it!

6. Dog Days Are Over – Florence + The Machine: This one talks about running fast and is fun. I also like “Shake It Out”.

7. 99 Problems – Jay-Z: I’m a huuuuge Hova fan, and this is one of his songs that frequently makes its way onto my playlists.

8. Happy – Pharrell Williams: If this doesn’t have you skipping down the street, nothing will.

9. Mountain Sound – Of Monsters and Men: This one makes the list because it has a unique sound to it and can break things up a bit.

10. Born to Run – Bruce Sprinsteen:  If you don’t have this loaded onto your iPod, you’re just doing it wrong.

I’m always looking for songs to add. Share your go-to running music with me: comment below, or tweet me at @AtlRnnr!

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A Small Summer Slump

It’s finally here: my inevitable Summer Slump. While I love this season for everything else in life, I’m not a big fan of how it impacts my running. It gets hot, I get irritable, and fewer miles get run.

I’ve had much worse summers. We’ve enjoyed “cooler” weather by Atlanta standards over the past few weeks. I’ve also been pretty motivated. I’m happy to say I’ve seen some great improvements during the first half of the year so that has kept me working hard. Having a mileage goal for the entire year is an extra push to get me out the door.

But the past couple weeks have produced lower mileage. In fact, I took a whole week off from running, thanks to a quick trip out of town and not feeling so great upon my return. I’m actually okay with it. I am all too aware that marathon training starts in just a few short weeks! I also know that sometimes breaks are good!

This morning, I got back out there and got in four miles under some very pleasant conditions. I even have my next race this Saturday (the Decatur-DeKalb 4 Miler).

So my best advice for avoiding a summer slump:

  • Get out there during the coolest and/or least humid part of the day
  • Set a big fall goal so you have something to work towards
  • Don’t be hard on yourself – I definitely slow down when it’s hot out!

Give yourself a break this summer – just don’t let it turn into a full-fledged slump!

My Love of the AJC Peachtree Road Race

Apparently I am a fan of the “go big or go home” philosophy. My first road race was on July 4, 2010. It just so happened to be the world’s largest 10K – the AJC Peachtree Road Race. That was the last year the event allowed “only” 55,000 participants. The next year it went up to its current 60,000-strong status.

If you live in Atlanta, chances are you are well aware of the Peachtree Road Race even if you have never run a day in your life. The event kicks off the Fourth of July every year, shutting down its namesake road from Buckhead to Midtown and finishing at Piedmont Park. If you’re not running it, you know at least one person who is. And it gathers runners from all over the country and around the world.

During my first several years in Atlanta, I was a television news producer. I got my first taste of the Peachtree while field producing from the race’s famed Cardiac Hill. Because my station carried the race live, I was unable to actually run it. Instead, I worked (well that day and pretty much every other holiday…). Even working it was a blast, since there was a huge crowd and a great vibe.

The American flag being hoisted over the start line of the Peachtree Road Race

The American flag being hoisted over the start line of the Peachtree Road Race

When I left that station and was finally able to run the Peachtree, I was really excited and very nervous. I didn’t know what to expect since it was my first race ever, but I was hooked the instant I showed up at the start line. Seeing tens of thousands of people of all ages and abilities line up to do a 10K was really special. It was also a great reminder of how good we have it in this country. Here we were, celebrating our freedom with a GIGANTIC flag draped above the start line. As a military kid, that flag gets to me every single year.

My first Peachtree was a little rough. I was coming off of some painful injuries (I had been hit by a car while running a few months prior). I also didn’t have a qualifier time, which landed me in one of the last start waves and allowed time for the sun and temperatures to rise (hot and humid in Atlanta in July… go figure). But I still started and finished the race with a smile! Running with that massive crowd was thrilling – it’s one of the things that makes the Peachtree a race experience like no other!

Men's elite field takes off at the 2013 Peachtree Road Race - that's Meb in the Orange!

Men’s elite field takes off at the 2013 Peachtree Road Race – that’s Meb in the Orange!

I returned to run the Peachtree the next two years. As soon as I finished the race, a group of us would meet up with some friends along the course to cheer on the other runners and enjoy some beers and snacks. Then last year I switched careers and got into public relations. Oddly, I was lucky enough to end up at the firm that handles the account for the Atlanta Track Club, organizer of the Peachtree. I manage the account and this Friday will be my second year working the event in this capacity. Although a part of me misses running that famed course, it is awesome to get a behind-the-scenes look at the race and see everyone from wheelchair athletes to elite runners to average participants take part in this unique celebration of fitness and our country.

Because the Peachtree Road Race was my indoctrination into the world of road racing, it will always have a special place in my heart. But I’m quite sure it would have significant meaning even if were my 100th race since it is so different from any other out there!

Tell me about your first race and/or your Peachtree race experiences! Leave a comment or send me a tweet, @AtlRnnr.

Our pre-Peachtree party at the 2011 start line

Our pre-Peachtree party at the 2011 start line, my second Peachtree Road Race (I’m the one in green shorts)