Keep Fit: With Music, Work Out Better, Faster, Stronger

For Christmas I received an official running log to keep track of my workouts. It’s formatted like the typical planner, but the idea is to log how many miles you run, where you run and any comments on how you felt. Then, much like a journal, you can reflect back on good runs, figure out what works and what doesn’t, and just keep on top of training.

The running log is the perfect tool to keep my New Year’s resolution: To be more organized. Long ago I discovered the power of writing workouts down. Otherwise, the days tend to blend together, and it’s easy to lie to yourself about what you did, how hard you went, when the last time you hit the gym was, etc.

Bonus: This planner (which came from Bookhampton, not Santa) includes little training tips. Some are useful fun facts: “You can resume training after donating blood with a light workout within 24 hours, but oxygen-toting red blood cells can take six weeks to reach full count. This may affect your performance.” And “To reduce pain and swelling, a combination of water and ice works better than ice alone.”

But some are a little too subjective: “Music elevates mood and makes running feel easier. But it also distorts your perception of how hard you’re working.”

Because music makes running more fun, I think it often leads to a better quality workout. I don’t often run with music, because the little ear buds don’t like to stay in my ears. But winter is hat season, and hats are perfect for keeping headphones in place.

So, with the top songs of 2012 rocking the radio waves all last week, here are five songs I’m excited to run to this winter:

Call Me Maybe,” Carly Rae Jepson: I’ve probably listened to this song 1,000 times since it hit last spring. An upbeat pop song? Yes, please.

Some Nights,” Fun: Love the drums in this song. I think they’ll bring an extra level of intensity to a run.

“22,” Taylor Swift: Another pop song, this one about the perks of being 22. (Which was so 2010).

Everyday,” Dave Matthews Band: It’s a bit of a slow-paced song, but the lyrics are so happy that it’s impossible to not at least enjoy the workout while it’s playing.

She’s So Mean,” Matchbox Twenty: I’m a sucker for ’90s-style pop. It’s unbelievably exciting that Matchbox Twenty has a new album, with “She’s So Mean” as the first single released.

When running to music, it’s also fun to consider the length of the song. To break up the monotony of a longer run, I often do a Fartlek runFartlek, which means “speed play” in Swedish, refers to periodically speeding up and slowing down the pace. Conventional Fartleks employ ladder schedules, where you build on the amount of time you’re moving at a sprinter’s pace My typical schedule is 1 minute fast, 30 seconds slower, 2 minutes fast, 1 minute slow, 3 minutes fast, 1.5 minutes slow, etc.… But I also like to incorporate music into my Fartleks: One song at a fast pace, one song at a slow pace. You’ll hit a 45-minute run before you know it.

On a completely different note, I recently found out that the New York Mets signed a pitcher whose last name is Laffey. Can’t wait until Opening Day!

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