I landed on the Kiss My Black A** podcasts. (I have untold layers, people. Did you know Jen gets transcendental to Tupac?) There was something deliciously sinful about listening to music I would never listen to around the delicate ears of my dear, sweet, children that was highly motivating. The only problem is that I tend to run too fast to dance/pop sorts of songs so I tend to wear myself out in the first couple of minutes and then plod through the rest of the run. Even when I did run a full 30 minutes, I tended toward a sprightly 12:30 minute mile. Between illness, weather, and short days I had a lot of trouble keeping up a running program but I did what I could.
Then we moved to Dublin. Dublin (when not in sleet season) may be the ideal home of runners. Once you get over the hump of sleet and ridiculously short days, you get weather than is consistently 10-15 C/50-70 F, reasonably flat land, and a light to gale force wind to keep you pleasantly cool. There is often some sort of precipitation but it tends towards drizzle rather than downpour and it's relatively simply to line up daylight and childcare since, for example, the sun currently rises at 4:58 and it gets full dark around 10:30.
I found myself, for the first time in about 7 years, not pregnant and/or breastfeeding which had been my previous form of fat burning activity. (The nurse nearly wept with joy when I told her Noah weaned at around 25 months- breastfeeding is struggling a bit in Ireland) There is also that miracle known as the the Irish dairy product. When you pair any Irish dairy product with the second wonder known as Irish breads and pastries, you discover that you should really take up running again. (I have decided that butter will have to be a line item in our budget upon return to Blacksburg. I'm going to taste test the Amish stuff against the Kerrygold and ignore generic butter sales with wild abandon. Ireland, what have you done to me!)
I developed a new running plan called "Run for the Cheese!"
This time I decided to follow the Doctor Mama strategy which is run in as long a stretch as you can but run really, really slow and make sure you can sing along with your songs. This brought me back to the pop issue. 80s pop is great running music since the songs are short (nothing is quite as bad as promising yourself you can stop at the end of the song only to realize Fergie will be discussing her Fergaliciousness for another 3 minutes) and quite singable. But, the peppy beats that motor you through the first few minutes, kill you in the second half. I decided that the perfect music to both sing along with and encourage you to run just a little slower is country.
Country music is ideal for people who think that being arrested might not be so bad but have an abiding love of both their current pair of jeans AND Irish dairy products. The songs are short, they are supremely singable, and, the story lines often offer up intriguing lines of thought. For instance, there is apparently a whole school of thought that considers access to a particular biscuit recipe grounds for marriage. I need this biscuit recipe!
Another note, if you participated in marching band for, perhaps, 6 years, you will likely find it a supreme struggle to not run to the beat (stepping off on the left) so, pay attention to the beats per minute or prepare for some mental hardship during your run. Multiples of the same root seem fine- i.e. my sweet spot is around 160 bpm but I can adapt quite happily to 80-90 bpm. The ones between 110 and 130 throw me off a little but are useful to help me run slower in between "fast" songs or at the end.
The gist of Run for the Cheese, should you choose to try it, is to start by running to around 3 songs. Try to add a song a week until you are happy with your total time running. I'm aiming for a consistent 30 min run and I'd like to do 9-10 minute miles but I'm not worrying about speed until I can run a consistent 30 minutes. I fully expect to backslide when we return to the land of heat, humidity, and hills. :-) I find that a rice cake with peanut butter (and maybe a dab of nutella) and a big glass of water with a squeeze of lemon or lime is a good post workout snack. Plain water tends to make me feel queasy post-run. If feel completely exhausted after your "run" and snack, consider adding a snack and/or glass of water pre-run, run slower, run for 1 song fewer and/or look into hiring a night nanny.
I've posted the playlist to jog.fm where you can listen on spotify or buy via itunes or Amazon. You should be able to access the list without any sort of registration but let me know if it's a problem. I've added a link to the playlist on the sidebar of the blog if you want to get at it later because who wouldn't want to: