I love running. I love music. I only love music and running combined when I am watching on TV an Al Trautwig or John Tesh voice-over-slo-mo-heartfelt-inspirational-promo or when I find myself on a treadmill.
I have to have music on when I run on a treadmill. How else can I adequetely be imagining all sorts of amazing feats of running I am accomplishing in my warped mind without great music?
I need music. The right music.
And therein lies the problem because there is music.
Then there is great music.
And then there is great music that remains great while running on a treadmill.
That means there also exists great music that no longer remains great once you are running on a treadmill. Today, we tackle those songs.
They are out there. They lull you into thinking that the audio experience that you had doing something other than treadmill running will translate to your time spent running on a treadmill.
These songs are liars.
Without any further ado I give you A (not The) List of (Some of) The Greatest Songs of All Time Until You Find Yourself Running on a Treadmill
This song should only be played while wearing all white outfits on an English beach while training for the 1924 Olympics or while filming a scene where a group of actors in all white run along an English beach while preparing for the 1924 Olympics. Outside of those two very specific moments, one of which involves a time machine, the song should not be played. It WILL NOT make you run faster or help you get through a tough run.
#2A – We Will Rock You – Queen – Very difficult after a lifetime of slapping your thighs and clapping to not feel the need to do just that when it comes on while you are running. Running while slapping your thighs is awkward and on a treadmill it’s downright dangerous. If this song comes on quickly get off treadmill and do your duty. Then resume run.
#2B – We are the Champions – Queen – Ever tried running, singing and picking up the pace all at the same time? Ever passed out on a treadmill? Not cool. Damn you Queen! Damn you!
#3 – Borderline – Madonna – Anything, really, from Madonna. Actually, I take that back. Express Yourself, Just Like a A Prayer and Hung Up are runnable. What? You think I have a problem with Madonna? Are you kidding?! What are you? 13 years old? Lady Gaga is JV Madonna. You want to play big then play the Immaculate Collection at your next party. Just don’t play it while you are running on a treadmill.
#4 – Tarzan Boy – Baltimora – Confused? If you are then you are not a child of the 80’s. You wanted to be. But you’re not. Tarzan Boy is ours. Unless we are on a treadmill. Then we blame the hippies. When you are backed in a corner by an angry mob that is yelling about global warming, the military industrial complex, continental drift or the song Tarzan Boy just tell them it was the hippies doing. Works every time.
#5 – Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band – Just kidding. This song is great on and off a treadmill.
#5 – Supersymmetry – Arcade Fire – First, this is one of my favorite Arcade Fire songs ever. That needs to be said up front. In fact, I love running to it as well. I am pretty sure that I am the greatest runner of all time while this song is playing and my shirt is covering the treadmill’s dashboard robbing the real MPH from destroying my imaginary world. It also helps if no one else is around. That being said, the song ends with basically 9 minutes of either silence or barely audible jibberish. Almost reaching a moment of running rapture and then having do deal with what sounds like cheap and now blown out speakers on volume 2 and balance set all the way to the left is too much to handle. The only song that comes close to producing the sheer panic I feel when I realize that Supersymmetry is winding down is “Hey, Foxymophandlemama, That’s Me” by Pearl Jam at the end of their album Vitalogy. I can run for the entire Vitalogy album…almost. That song that I now refuse to retype the name of is what I imagine a serial killer hears all the time. Terrifying. Pretty tough to lay the hammer down, raise the MPH and drive up the elevation at the end of your run when Buffalo Bill is basically performing on your radio.
Great Songs but Terrible Treadmill Songs Honorable Mention: The Final Countdown by Europe, Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana, Creep by Radiohead, One Moment in Time by Whitney Houston, Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond, Piano Man by Billy Joel, Electric Avenue by Eddie Ocean, that one song by PM Dawn, and the last honorable mention is that song by those guys I can’t remember right now because they never made another song and I never saw them on MTV again back when MTV played videos.
OK, I understand that the list is short. My job is not to save you from every song that seems distorted by the treadmill and set you off on some crazed unchecking of your iTunes library. I simply wanted to save you from the worst abusers. Life on the treadmill does not always mirror life off the treadmill.
Sometimes it’s best to remember that you may be able to run on a treadmill but you can never run away on a treadmill.