Your leg muscles are screaming at you as you go for one last rep. You’re not sure you can do it. Exhausted you call on your body for one last effort. Then something extraordinary happens. The music in your ears changes and on comes Thin Lizzy – it’s “The Boys are Back in Town”. Suddenly you are energized and your legs are fresh. And as the thumping guitar rhythm takes hold, not sure if you are Bradley Wiggins or Phil Lynot, you push yourself to one last mighty effort!
Is music a driving force that fuels your workouts or a racket that disturbs the solitude of exercising? Used at the right time and place I think music is very motivating. If you get the right thumping beat in the middle of your workout, it’s difficult to stop it driving you on.
I am choosy about when I use music. I never run with an iPod or earphones. I find it very distracting. I like to listen to my breathing and the sound of my footsteps on the road. I also like to think my own thoughts which is not easy if you are competing with a rock song played at the same decibel level as an aircraft landing.
I use music most when I am cycling on my turbo trainer. My turbo lives in my cellar and however much I love my own thoughts, staring at a cellar wall and thinking for an hour is not my idea of entertainment. So I stick in the earphones, crank up the volume and get my cycling on.
But beware! There is an art to creating a playlist so that it compliments what you are doing. There is no use starting off a gentle warm up with Metallica pounding through the headset and nothing is more certain to kill the momentum than starting the hardest rep of your workout only to hear Karen Carpenter calling occupants of interplanetary craft in your ear. And as someone pointed out about one of my playlists, a sure fire way to undo all of the feel-good endorphins that you get after a hard workout is to warm down listening to Adele’s semi-suicidal heartache.
This morning I was on the turbo at 6.00am for an hour before work. It was a tempo session – 10 minutes warm up, 45 minutes with heart rate over 135 and 10 minutes warm down. So building a matching playlist wasn’t too complicated. Here is what I listened to this morning:
Sail On – The Commodores (cheesy start I know but read on – it gets better)
Heroes – David Bowie
Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) – Green Day
The Man Who Sold the World (Live) – Nirvana
Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me) – Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel
Sweet Child o’ Mine – Guns N’ Roses
Na Na Na Na Na – Kaiser Chiefs
You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet – Bachman Turner Overdrive
Bad Romance – Lady Gaga
Rosalie/Cowgirl’s Song (Live 1976) – Thin Lizzy
One Vision – Queen
Rock and Roll – Led Zeppelin
Stop – Spice Girls (don’t know what I was thinking – maybe that I was going to a Zumba class!!)
Vindaloo – Fat Les
Seven Seas of Rhye – Queen
Lido Shuffle – Boz Scaggs
Me and Tennessee – Tim McGraw & Gwyneth Paltrow
I am slightly embarrassed to confess to the final track on the playlist. There is no proper justification for listening to music like this, especially when you are exercising, but my excuse is that it reminds me of some good times when I was young!
I Did What I Did for Maria – Tony Christie
Playlists have a short shelf life. They quickly get stale and need to be refreshed. So I would love to get some ideas for my next one. What is on your current playlist?