Sarah Bowen Shea: Running Solo With Music
Sarah Bowen Shea's musical tastes have changed, but she still listens to tunes on solo runs.
As a child of the 1980s, I have New Wave music in my veins: Alphaville, New Order, The Jam, Depeche Mode and Culture Club. So a decade ago, when I started listening to music while running, those were my go-to tunes. One problem: While that music was boppy enough to inspire fluorescent fashion trends and flappy asymmetrical haircuts, it didn’t pack enough punch when I picked up the pace. Thompson Twins and Talk Talk aren’t the right tunes for tempo runs.
I had to move my musical tastes into the pop and hip-hop of the 21st century—but how? I started by asking my friends on Facebook. I created Pandora stations based on the suggestions that resonated most with me, like a “Brandy” station founded on her 2008 hit, “Right Here (Departed),” which then clued me in to songs similar in melody, rhythm, and lyrics. From that one song, which is 3 minutes, 38 seconds long, by a teen sensation, I was introduced to the Black Eyed Peas, Beyonce and Britney Spears. (Like I said, I was woefully stuck in the last millennium.) This wasn’t music I’d listen to if I ever had the chance to just sit around and enjoy music but, for me, Brit and Co. create the perfect running tuneage. Upbeat, catchy, fast-paced, inane.
Then Spotify rocked (or, rather, popped!) my musical world: This cloud-based music service meant I could try out any song I wanted without breaking the iTunes bank. By buying the $9.99/month premium service, I could also create “radio” stations based on a song or artist, like “Girl on Fire” (one of the best running songs ever, IMHO!) or Nelly. Only hiccup: I had to run with my iPhone instead of slimmer, trimmer iPod. But a small burden in return for limitless song selections.
Spotify also allows me to share playlists with my running pals, like this compilation of 50 Perfect Running Songs we compiled from the Another Mother Runner Facebook page and the playlist for my most recent half marathon.
Now that I’m 100 percent addicted to listening to music when I run solo, I match my music to my pace. Easy, early morning 5-miler? Hello, John Mayer or Eddie Vedder. When I’m running slightly faster but not gunning it, Fun., Walk Off the Earth and Foster the People fit the bill nicely. I save artists like Usher, Flo Rida, Macklemore, and David Guetta for when I kick it into high gear.
For running, I’ve most definitely waved bye-bye to New Wave.