Tag Archives: marathon

A List of (Some of) the Greatest Songs of All Time Until You Find Yourself Running on a Treadmill

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


#1 –

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.


An Exhausting Life

I used to be a different athlete than the one I am now. In some ways I imagine I will always be that same athlete somewhere deep inside. My time though, as an athlete first and everything else later, well, it came and it went. Sometimes it seems like I was on the starting line only yesterday. At other times, more now than before, it seems like it was all a different life.

And to them I am not an athlete.

I am their coach.

It is exhausting.

So many of these kids have never really run before they arrive at practice. Hell, more and more of them have never really ever competed in anything before they show up. It’s tough trying to explain to them what it means to run, truly run after greatness, your own greatness. It’s tough to explain how pure running is. It’s tough to explain the necessity of the suffering that running brings and why when you do suffer you don’t just stop and curl up in a small ball and cry but instead just keep on suffering and if possible suffer more. But, I have to explain it. I have to get them to understand. Explaining is exhausting.

I remember searching at times for something, anything positive in my own running when I just couldn’t do anything right. I remember feeling lost when it seemed that all I did was lose. Now I have 35 people that sometimes get lost, feel lost. It’s up to me to find them or at least let them know I am looking for them. That can be a lot of searching. It’s not easy. It’s exhausting.

When I was an athlete I always thought that if I just showed up I would get better. Now, they show up. Every day. And I have to come up with ways to get them better. And then when they get better I have to get them better than that. They want to always get better. Getting people better is exhausting.

As a runner it seemed that I was always walking on the edge of injury and sickness. Now, as a coach, I am walking in front, behind, alongside my athletes trying as best as I can to make sure that they don’t fall when they don’t have to or if they do fall I try to break that fall as best as I can. It can be exhausting.

When I was running I remember the stress when it came to colleges and recruiting. I remember the indecision and the confusion. Now as a coach, if I can maybe shoulder some of the burden, if I can ask the questions for them or at least stand with them maybe they won’t feel rushed or pressured. Maybe they will feel confident and relaxed. Maybe they can make the best decision for themselves. It’s a long process. It’s an exhausting process.

I remember how hard it was to do the little things when I was a runner. I remember thinking that a little thing skipped here or there was not a big deal. No one better hassle me. I run my miles. That should be enough. Now as a coach I harass them about icing and drinking water and gatorade and eating oranges and bananas and getting enough sleep and having a better diet and stretching the right way and doing drills and watching races and reading books. I’m annoying. Being annoying is exhausting.

I remember not believing in myself. Now I find myself as a coach trying to convince teenagers that they are better than they can possibly imagine. That the time, the personal best, is there inside already. Maybe the clock has not confirmed it yet but it is there. I know it. I know it before they do. I want them to believe in themselves the way I believe in them. Faith is exhausting.

Sometimes I hated running. Didn’t matter if I was running well or poorly. I loathed it. Wanted to quit it. I wanted to run away from running. Ironically. Now, I find myself telling them that I know how they feel. I understand. But, too bad. You love it too. And love always wins. Sorry. I don’t make the rules on these things. You want to complain? Go find two guys named Lennon and McCartney. Being broken by what you love is tiring. Putting someone back together is exhausting.

I find myself as a coach having to explain to some of them who Lennon and McCartney are. Having to deal with people who do not listen to the Beatles is exhausting

I remember when I was a runner wondering if it really was possible to reach my potential. Did I really have it inside me to keep working day after day. It seemed like just too much…something. Too much of everything was needed. Now I wonder if I am doing enough to help them. If I did more could they go higher? Can they make it to the top? When they do will they tell me what they see? Being a sherpa is exhausting.

I remember getting butterflies on race day. I remember getting butterflies just thinking about race day. Now I get butterflies for 40 races. That is like 100,000 butterflies. That many butterflies is exhausting.

I was an athlete. Now I am a coach.

It’s exhausting. Ask any coach. And if they are honest they will tell you that they have never slept better. We get to run dozens of races through our athletes every Saturday. We experience their highs and their lows. We get to fight the good fights and battle through those tough ones with them. We get to scream and cheer and get angry and frustrated and laugh and yes, cry right alongside all of our athletes.

It’s exhausting because we are alive the entire time we are coaching. We are involved. Life is not a spectator sport, Doc Sheehan once said. He was right. Life is not meant to be watched from the stands. It is meant to be lived racing around a great oval. Or from the infield. Life is for athletes…and coaches.

So if you find yourself in the bleachers get your butt up and out of that seat. Come down trackside. Don’t worry about the officials. Just act like you belong. (Because we all do.) Take a spot on the starting line and get ready to race. Or join me on the backstretch. I have work to do. Just like every other day. There’s always races to be run.

Remember, there are no rest days when it comes to this sport of life.

For a life fully lived should be exhausting.

Coming Up Millroses

When the Millrose Games decided to move the meet out of Madison Square Garden and into the New Balance Center/168th Street Armory for the 2012 meet I was disappointed. I fell in love with running during the 80’s. I remember watching Eamonn Coghlan and Marcus O’Sullivan win just about every Wanamaker Mile there was in front of sold out Madison Square Garden crowds. I remember the seemingly endless meet coverage on the MSG channel. More than anything else I remember imagining how exciting it would be to race at Madison Square Garden. (I was the first HS miler not invited to race in the Millrose HS Mile! Still stings.) Having a meet in the greatest arena there is seemed to legitimize the sport. Due to dwindling attendance at the meet which was due to boring races which was due to incredibly weak fields which was due to no one caring about Millrose anymore which was due to no one caring about Indoor Track anymore the meet finally left the increasingly barren MSG. I was pissed. I was frustrated. I was mostly sad. It seemed like yet another capitulation by our sport.

The meet organizers decided to move Millrose to the Armory. Even though the Armory has one of the fastest tracks in the world I kept saying it won’t be the same if it’s not at MSG. I was right. But not in the way I thought.

After attending Millrose each of the last 5 years (3 at MSG and 2 at the Armory)I have to admit that the quality of the meet has improved dramatically since the move. The fan experience has improved each year it has been at the Armory as well. Year two at the armory had the ushers being more polite, the athletes were treated better, the food offerings were improved, and Coogan’s is still nearby.

And the organizers have added some nice bells and whistles. There is a  great raffle that the organizers are having to benefit the Armory Prep College Fund. I was fully prepared to see some really weak offerings for the potential raffle winners. Instead, I saw 8 awesome prizes. You could win a burger and beer with Nick Symmonds at Coogan’s after the meet or a brunch with the Chairmen of the Boards Eamonn Coghlan or even an entire Millrose weekend with hotel and tickets included. It may seem silly that I am dedicating part of a post to a raffle. It’s not silly. The people at Millrose are trying to make their meet better on and off the track. That deserves recognition.

Let’s talk about the track part. Bernard Lagat, Nick Willis and Evan Jager in the (rarely run) 2000m, Nick Symmonds, Duane Soloman, Robby Andrews, and Eric Sowinski in the (rarely run) 1000m, young studettes Mary Cain and Ajee Wilson will battle in the 800m and the greatest athlete on Earth, Ashton Eaton, will be competing in two events, the 60m Hurdles and the pole vault. The Millrose Games will be a family affair for Ashton as his wife  just happens to be the World Championship Heptathlon Silver Medalist, Brianne Thiessen. Mrs. Eaton will  be competing in two events, the long jump and hurdles. Add to this already great meet the classic Wanamaker Mile and the HS relays and mile races. Really, what you have is what we have always asked for: a well run, compact, and exciting Track & Field meet…with beers.

What will we as Track & Field Fans do with this? If history is any indicator we will collectively yawn and then make sure we bitch about having to pay money to experience it. Any money at all to watch the meet online or in person is too much for us cheap bastards. Hell, $30 is too much for a raffle ticket, isn’t it? We want Track to be more slick and more exciting and more popular and less expensive – as if it could get any cheaper. We’ll pay $100 so we can run a 13.1 miles with other people on a road but we’ll protest $100 for ticket to one of the premier Indoor meets in the World. Hypocritical? Apathetic? Naive? Pessimistic? All of the above? Worse?

If the Millrose Games can turn around a dying meet maybe we can turnaround a dying fanbase. If you are from the tri-state area then try to attend. Buy some tickets. It’s worth it. If you can’t attend the meet then make sure you watch it on ESPN or online. Throw some cash at the raffle. Visit the sponsors at the bottom of the NYRR Millrose Games homepage. Make sure you READ and SHARE the articles you see about the meet. Talk about the Millrose Games. Do something because they are doing something. And that is what we wanted.

What happens when we get what we want?

See you at Millrose.