Every year on Memorial Day weekend, regardless of the weather or water temperatures or hectic work schedules, I go for my first swim of the season. People tell me I’m crazy; it’s great. But going for that first swim, means stripping down. Stripping down means exposing my body that’s spent the semester boozing, stress eating, and getting by on the cheap, college-student, junk-food-infused diet. I’ll tell you now, it ain’t so pretty. However, I’m currently working to relaunch my running career after some time—I refuse to consider exactly how much time—on leave.
I’m determined to get on a health kick this summer. There’s no good excuse not to be eating healthier while at home and making cleaner life choices. Part of that is working out at least a few times a week. People say running is a cheaper form of therapy and, for me, this is the case. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—I firmly believe running helps me to maintain my sanity. It’s the time when I sort out all the wackiness in my head and determine how to approach the things bothering me in my life. And it’s also an escape. When I’m running, I have no obligations to be doing anything else. I simply plug in, hit play, and take off. Some people—one of my bosses loves to bitch about this—think music ruins a run; “It’s your time to get away from all that crap”. I, however, would get nowhere without my running playlist.
Everyone sorts out different personal issues while running so your playlist should totally be tailored to the things making you a feel like a crazy person. But I wanted to share mine with y’all. Warning: there will be some trash, pop songs—I like to make the process of actually running as fun and painless as possible and sorry, not sorry that means some pop. Also, this is an abbreviated list, but if I ran the entirety of my actual 27-song playlist, I’d probably die (sad?).
Mouth’s Cradle – American Boys
Every single workout, every single time starts out with this song. Sometimes I go in order, sometimes I shuffle, but I always listen to “American Boys” first. Mouth’s Cradle may be one of the most obscure bands you’ll ever listen to (you might actually have to dig around to find this gem), but how else would you want to start out your workout than to the sound of a cowbell? These guys are bosses and they know it. Their sauve rapping/singing is playful and a little sassy and damn catchy. It’s matched to a steady beat made up of bizarre “instruments”: cowbell; I kid you not, the Photo Booth snapshot sound, etc. Feel like a boss with them as you set out on your trek.
Lorde – The Love Club
I like to throw it back to some old-school Lorde (let’s take a minute to note how truly weird it is that this EP came out in 2012, which was three years ago), but really any of her stuff would do the trick. Lorde knows how to get the angst out. Her lyrics are smart and her sound is strong. She’s the voice we all needed growing up, but even now her words are applicable and have a way of making you too feel smart and strong.
Solange – Sandcastle Disco
Solange just makes me happy! Even when she’s singing to some seemingly douche-y guy, she sounds so sassy and I just can’t get enough of it. The truth is, I too am nothing but a sandcastle, but I’m hard at work on building up my sass. Solange is my queen and I refuse to listen to a single bad word about her.
Tove Lo – Habits (Stay High)
I told you there’d be some straight up pop on here. But girl’s a mess and, as I said, the reason I run is to keep from getting to that point. Running is my healthy high. And I’ll be damned if everytime I hear the chorus my stride doesn’t get a little stronger as I move to reach that high.
Emeli Sandé featuring Naughty Boy – Daddy
Without a doubt, Emeli Sandé’s best song. You need someone or something to remind you not to forget “how it feels to live in his lies” or “how it feels when he’s gone”. Emeli Sandé does that as she sings from that sick pain and she’s left as breathless as you are at this point in your run. But she makes it through and so will you, on every level.
Banks – Drowning
The whole point of this album was pretty much to tell girls: fuck him, you are a goddess. Because of that, I’m going to also insert here my two cents on working out. Do it for you. Don’t workout to reach some fucked up societal standard; don’t workout because someone made you feel shitty about the way you look; don’t kill yourself working out. Do it for you and you alone. But, moving on. I love Banks and this song because it proves to me that you can be both vulnerable and a boss ass bitch at once. I can so easily find myself feeling like I’m drowning, but I am in fact strong and part of my proof is that I’m casually running a 5K right now, homie!
Sky Ferreira – I Blame Myself
Because she’s right; only you know what it feels like to be you and that’s why it’s so important to take the time to reflect and take care of yourself. Plus, you can always use some more bad bitch pop in your life.
Young the Giant – My Body
Finish strong! You want to stop and walk for a bit. Reasonable. But you probably can push on. I’m actually pretty against this message morally—if you’ve ever done yoga, you know that if your body is telling you no, you have to listen to it—but still. Steady kick drum verses and a power-through chorus give you the extra umph you need to get where you want, how you want.
Now your run is over and you’re feeling wicked fucking good. Don’t lose that! It’s time for some tunes that will keep your endorphins going strong. It really is something special how music can so quickly and easily affect your feelings and here we’ll use that power for good. Working out can have such a positive effect on both body and mind. Music helps me maintain that. I’ve bored you enough, so I’ll make the descriptions short, but trust me when I say this is your key to tackling your day with a good mood.
Joaquin Phoenix – Get Rhythm
That’s right. I suck. I listen to the Joaquin Phoenix version. But I actually really dig his voice and this song has such a great, up-beat rhythm (shocker!).
Coco O. – Where the Wind Blows
Say what you want about The Great Gatsby movie, but the soundtrack was killer. The first lines are “I just wanna have a good time // Can I have fun for the rest of my life?” and you’re like “Hell yeah!” That or you sit back, bob your head, and feel chill.
Sylvan Esso – Coffee
This is a more laid-back song, but it sounds so light and lovely and gets you feeling all warm and fuzzy. So, like, the perfect song, right?
Mark Ronson – Uptown Funk (featuring Bruno Mars) and Valerie (featuring Amy Winehouse)
Mark Ronson knows how to make a feel good jam. Bruno really brought his game to this song and it’s near impossible not to groove to. And then there’s “Valerie”. It physically hurts to me imagine all the music the world missed out on with the passing of Amy Winehouse and much of that is due to her and Mark Ronson’s collaborations. This song is nothing short of a classic.
Fitz and the Tantrums – MoneyGrabber
“One is for the money. Two is for the green. Three times that I told you that you’re the one I just don’t need.” They just make saying fuck off so much more fun. And yes, Lauren and I have a choreographed dance to this song, but no, the world is not ready for it.
Happy workout. Happy songs. Happy people.