We welcome September into our lives and all it has to offer: sweet weather, the NFL, meaningful baseball games and two months before I have to run 13.1 consecutive miles. It's a pretty decent time to be alive; let's talk about why it's not. Here's your Spotify playlist.

"Straight at the Sun," Murder By Death

I have to say, my instrumental music for outdoor running/pop-ish music for indoor running theory seems to be a winner. I ran my long run on the treadmill to most of the songs on this list (except the last one) and it went perfectly fine. I also ran outside for my other scheduled runs to instrumental tunes and it was equally acceptable-considering-I-was-running. I can't see myself listening to straight instrumental/crescendo stuff for 13.1 miles on race day but I will at least feel more comfortable cutting up some time and distance with it than I did my first go-round.


I've gotten a lot of suggestions for other things to do while running most of which fall somewhere between nothing and books on tape. I can see the benefits of both, but the negatives seem too negative, relatively speaking. Running without anything but my own mind as a crutch scares the beejesus out of me. I understand that it is theoretically possible to reach some zen-like state of total-zone-out mode, but I kind of feel like that would never happen for me. I'm positive that I would be out there completely fixated on how I have nothing to distract myself from running and it would just be a nightmare. These runs already feel like they are never going to end when you've got something to keep your mind occupied, I don't want to know what it's like when the actual run is supposed to keep me busy.

"45," The Gaslight Anthem

The books on tape or podcast angle seems more plausible, but ultimately less rewarding than music. Plus "reading" while running is un-American and for people with death wishes. Whenever I read, I fall asleep. It's wonderful. It takes me a year and a half to read a book, but I always have a good time. I think if I listened to an audiobook people might think I'm narcoleptic. Plus, if I was at the gym, I'd have to wear that stupid clip that's supposed to cut the power if you fall but really only dangles down and taps against the treadmill, making the most annoying sound in the world.


Besides, there is a rush that comes from certain songs, lyrics and tempos that I just don't see happening as often with either audiobooks or people talking about shit. I've gotten that sensation (the chills, is what I've always called it)—from books for sure—one that always gets me is after the trial in To Kill A Mockingbird and Atticus is leaving, and the reverend tells Scout, “Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father’s passin’.”—but a good moment like that, in a song, while running is like a chemical reaction or something. Both feed off each other, prolonging it. Those moments are great; they almost make running worth it. I just don't see getting that same experience from a book. Plus, with a playlist, you can potentially have 15 moments like that back-to-back. You can't just listen to select passages of audiobooks. Wait, can you?

"Cherub Rock," The Smashing Pumpkins

Another thing I figured out after oh, I don't know, close to two years of running on a semi-regular basis is the importance of pacing. Get out a pad and pencil, because you'll want to take notes: pacing is important. Let me simplify it for you: "pacing" is what we mean by how fast you run. The faster you run, the more energy you are expending. Generally, your body does not like to expend energy. It just wants to sort of hang around. Like a buoy. Anyway. The more energy you expend, the harder your body is working, i.e. as energy use goes up, buoyness goes down. The other thing is, you have a finite amount of energy to expend. So, if you use it all up by running really, really fast you won't get as far.

"My Name Is Jonas," Weezer

But! If you run just sort of fast, or just really fast, you can cover a lot more ground. It seems kind of counterintuitive, because you want to just be done with it all as soon as possible, but just hear me out. We're not running from lions or velociraptors, right? This is for fitness; you're running a set distance most likely. So, just have it in your mind that you'll be running a set distance instead of a set time. This way, you can dial down your pace (pronounced like "ace" but with a "p" in front of it) and still have enough energy to finish. Or at least not feel like you are running through Jell-o for five miles.

Everyone's got a different pace, you just have to figure out what yours is and work with it. The best part is, by running at a pace that works for you, it makes you not want to take running behind the store and beat it to death.

I just figured this out this week; makes everything a lot easier. Give it a try.

"Yellow Ledbetter," Pearl Jam

I was just thinking about this next race and realized that I don't technically have a goal for it. Last time, all I wanted to do was finish without having to walk. Minus a mid-race shit break and Dunkin' Donuts, I accomplished that goal ( I did run into and out of the store—first out of necessity and second out of principle). I didn't care about time or anything like that. Just finish the race and run the whole thing. I obviously can't go backwards so at a bare minimum I think a goal should be to not shit in the middle of the race. Outside of that, I still don't know what kind of goal to make.


I'm basically the same runner I was the last half-marathon, just maybe a little bit lighter. I guess improving on my time would be reasonable, but that's a lot of pressure to live up to and a lot of potential disappointment to endure.

"Turnstile," Hot Water Music

The flip side is that not making a goal is such a weak move; you're being your own helicopter parent. Stop pussyfooting around and challenge yourself, goddammit. I bet you could even accomplish the goal. At the very least you can make an excuse like Well, that doesn't really count since I technically ran to the bathroom before I shit and I also ran out of the bathroom. No, in fact, I don't see how taking a shit could be seen as getting a bit of rest, allowing me to recharge before running again, essentially creating the same benefit as stopping your stopwatch while you walk and then starting it again when you begin running again and using the final time as your finish time. I don't think it's like that at all, you sanctimonious horse's ass.

You could do something like that, if it came down to it.

"Carmina Burana: O Fortuna," London Philharmonic

I said I'd do it last week and, dammit, I came through. Let me just say, if you haven't run through the woods to this song, you are really missing out. I mean, that's not entirely true I guess. You could be at home on the couch eating delicious shit and watching football or something. You're definitely not missing out on anything then, but I'm just saying, it's a really fucking great song to run to. When you run to this song you feel like you have to be running. This isn't about leisure anymore, this isn't for fitness; it is now about survival. Some troll, or orc, or whatever other medieval lackey for The Morningstar you've imagined, is bearing down on you and you are just hauling ass through the woods, with a sword the size of Peter Dinklage just fucking slaying dudes as you go. You have to do this. It is the most primal of instincts. It's like what (I think) they say about feeding dogs too much red meat. At some point it unlocks the primeval instinct to just hunt and rip things to show no mercy.

It's kind of like that, anyway.

"Ashes In The Fall," Rage Against The Machine

In college, a friend and I took a bunch of classes together—which is the worst idea in the world if you want to actually learn stuff, by the way—and we had this real crunchy looking professor for an American history class. He had long hair in a ponytail, was kind of burly and wore his shirts unbuttoned at the top so you could see all this manly chest hair and wore all kinds of thick, metallic bracelets. He kind of looked like Gibson in The Patriot. Anyway, he was the most mild-mannered and soft-spoken guy but because of his appearance, we re-imagined him as this fucking howling maniac running through trees with an axe held over his head in front of a full moon. And we always had him doing it to O Fortuna. Think I got a C in college that class.

"A Decade Under The Influence," Taking Back Sunday

As awesome as this season is—and lets be clear, it is the season of seasons,—there is one thing that fucks it all up. Halloween. Halloween is actually awesome, but if you are a big dude, given to certain tendencies related to chocolatey, nougaty delicious snacks, it is the world's most one-sided game of chicken.

Milky Way: [is motionless, is a candy bar]

Me: No, I will not eat you and your 50 fun-sized brothers.

Milky Way: [is motionless, is a candy bar]

Me: I can't! I won't!

Milky Way: [is motionless, is a candy bar]

Me: I control my own destiny, not you!

Milky Way: [is motionless, is a candy bar]

Me: You're just a candy bar. I don't have to listen to you.

Milky Way: [is motionless, is a candy bar]

Me: You wouldn't.

Milky Way: [is motionless, is a candy bar]

Me: That is blackmail, damn you!

Milky Way: [is motionless, is a candy bar]

Me: What if I had just one?

Milky Way: [is motionless, is a candy bar]

Me: Animal. You fucking animal.

Milky Way: [is motionless, is a candy bar]

Me: What choice do I have? [eats Milky Way] What choice do any of us have? I have been [eats another Milky Way] preyed upon by circumstance and dark [eats another Milky Way] forces only now beginning to show themselves. [eats Milky Way] How can I [dumps remaining fun-sized Milky Ways out of the bag and onto table], a mortal man—one man—fight [eating Milky Ways by the handful] for justice and for the right of all my brothers to be phrunmbl frhm th mngphing ogh mvl??

"Voices," Saosin

The worst part about Halloween? I totally buy waaaaay more candy than I know we will ever pass out to little kids and then act surprised like oh man! What are we gonna do with all these extra Kit-Kats? The real fuck of it all is that it is a week and a half before the race. I will be running and rationalizing a lot then.

"Moya," Godspeed You! Black Emperor

This, along with another Explosions in the Sky album made up my other outdoor running days. As someone who has yet to follow the advice or music suggestions of anyone making them down below, I invite you to give these guys a try on your next run. It really is kind of a great experience. The payoff is just a scale repeated over and over, but it is perfect and once it hits it gives you—or me, at least—that "chills" moment I was talking about earlier and running just seems easier in those moments.