December 7: “Living With the Masses”, Sloan

Music and running. Some people can’t run without music, even when they’re with other people: they’re the ones you see with earplugs in even when there’s a cheering crowd to buoy them. Then there are those who are as pious about never running with music as those Luddites are about not owning a television. I run with music frequently, but not always. I was part of an excellent running group for years. When I ran with them, I would try to pace myself to run just behind my chatty friend Janet so I could be entertained by stories of her friends, family, boyfriends and eventually her charming husband. After a hiatus from the group resulting from a stress fracture, I found I was no longer fast enough to hear Janet, and ended up with friendly slower runners eager for more of a two-way conversation. Sadly, this didn’t align well with my out-of-shape post-injury running regime – i.e., I couldn’t talk and run simultaneously — and I drifted away from the group into solo runs of varying, but mostly shorter, lengths.

Running magazines and message boards are full of thoughts about the perfect running mix. These generally involve high-energy dance tunes that will, supposedly, keep you energized. Through trial and error, I’ve come to my own conclusions about the best kind of music to listen to while running:

1. The Goldilocks principle: not too fast, not too slow. I’m aiming for distance, not speed, and those 3000 BPS pieces lead me to run too fast. A few minutes of disco beats and it’s going to be a short run.

Too slow is also a problem. Relying on an iPod shuffle with a playlist generated randomly from my iTunes collection can be hazardous: a sudden shift to early-70s Tom Waits or Iron and Wine and I’m down to a crawl. OK, sure, I could set up a playlist or something especially for running, but this keeps my index finger active.

2. Guitars and drums. This is a good time for crunchy chords and throw-everything-you’ve-got-at-the-drum-kit drummers. Sometimes it’s the bass chord progression that you can match to your footfall. Kind of boring songs you might not have much interest in at other times work here.

3. The best music for running changes all the time. Some days are faster than others, some days are angrier than others. Some days, you might throw something on your device just to tempt you out the door.

Without fear or favour, the last song that came on during my most recent run: