Tunes on Tuesday – Could it be Magic

Many studies have shown that working out to music can have a number of positive effects and help us to push ourselves further. Music is also strongly linked to personal memories and hearing certain tracks can transport us to a particular moment in time. In this occasional series of posts, I’d like to introduce some of my favourite tracks from my workout playlist and share some of the memories they have given me.

Could it be Magic – Take That

It was only a matter of time before a Take That track made its way into Tunes on Tuesday. There are actually a few in my playlist, but I’ve picked this track today because I do have a story to tell around it.

For my readers not in the UK, Take That is a pop group formed waaaay back in 1990. I guess you could say they were one of the 90s “boy bands” and were created out of a desire to emulate groups like New Kids on the Block in the US. The band split in early 1996 while I was in my final year of high school and teenagers around the country were bereft – there was even a telephone helpline set up to help fans deal with the announcement! 10 years later, in 2006, the band reformed for a reunion tour and have continued to produce new material (and tour) ever since. To date, they are the most successful “boy band” (more of a “man band” now lol!) in UK chart history.

Basically, I’m old enough to to have loved Take That the first time around, but never got a chance to see them live until 2009 when Steve surprised me with concert tickets. In fact, the video above is taken from that tour. If you had told my teenage self that one day the band would get back together and I’d still be getting to see them live at my age then I’d have laughed in your face!

The song I’ve picked today is their cover of the Barry Manilow classic Could It Be Magic, the track which gave them their first big success. Not only is it a great song, but it has gained its place here thanks to the last time I saw then tour back in 2015.

The day after the concert, perhaps not feeling my most rested, I took part in the Tayside Challenge, a cycle event which I was using as a warm up for the Etape Caledonia the following week. My head was, unsurprisingly, still full of Take That songs so it was a bit like having my own playlist as I pedalled, but without the inconvenience of earphones (something I never use when cycling as I’m so conscious of safety). I was cycling with a friend, but at one point I was alone on a downhill stretch. We had been talking about the concert so as I swept down the hill, enjoying the sense of freedom, I began singing away to myself. Loudly. The song I picked? Could It Be Magic. I was having a great time, so it was only marginally embarrassing when another cyclist overtook me, no doubt having heard me singing to myself like an absolute madwoman! Oops!

The song itself featured on Take That’s first album which was released in 1992 (yes, I am that old!) so this year they are celebrating their 25th anniversary. The original lineup of 5 may now be reduced to 3, but my favourite (Gary Barlow) is still there and what better way could they have found to celebrate than to go out on tour? So on Friday of this week I’ll be heading through to Glasgow to see my “boys” performing live for the 4th time. Frankly, I can’t wait!

Please note that under UK Athletics rules, racing with headphones whilst on open roads is banned. If you choose to train with headphones, please be careful and make sure you are aware of your surroundings at all times.

Feel free to share your favourite workout tracks in the comments below…

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Tunes on Tuesday – Marathon

Many studies have shown that working out to music can have a number of positive effects and help us to push ourselves further. Music is also strongly linked to personal memories and hearing certain tracks can transport us to a particular moment in time. In this occasional series of posts, I’d like to introduce some of my favourite tracks from my workout playlist and share some of the memories they have given me.

Unsurprisingly, I’m in a marathon frame of mind this week and this song seems ideal to capture the mood. I really have no idea how I first came across it, but it’s a great one for a marathon training playlist and one I look forward to hearing during a long run.

I have to say, Rush is not a band I would usually listen to, but this song ticks the box of having lyrics that I find meaningful or motivational, one of the criteria for making it onto my playlist. On the surface the lyrics describe how someone would feel while running a marathon, however the deeper meaning of the song uses the marathon as a metaphor for life: just as a marathon is an extreme challenge undertaken to fulfill a goal, so it is that life is full of obstacles and is all about achieving our ambitions. Indeed, in an interview the lyricist Neil Peart said, “Marathon is a song about individual goals and trying to achieve them. And it’s also about the old Chinese proverb: ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’.” A marathon may not quite be a thousand miles (although it feels like it somewhere round about mile 18!) but it does begin with just one step, whether that’s a runner’s first run ever, the start of a training cycle or the first decisive step over the start line of the race. Whatever way you look at it, a marathon is certainly a journey in both the literal and metaphorical sense, an idea that this song captures perfectly.

“It’s a test of ultimate will
The heartbreak climb uphill
Got to pick up the pace
If you want to stay in the race”

And as a track dating back to the 1980s, with a lot of synthesiser and guitar, I guess it sounds a bit like my childhood and the kind of music around as I was growing up. Listening to it now, however, I’m transported to all those Sunday long runs preparing for spring marathons and completing mile after mile with my music for company. The lyrics help to provide the focus and motivation to keep going in the tough moments, particularly the chorus which I find particularly powerful (in an 80s kind of way!):

“From first to last
The peak is never passed
Something always fires the light that gets in your eyes
One moment’s high, and glory rolls on by
Like a streak of lightning
That flashes and fades in the summer sky”

With these lyrics I can visualise myself running the race, a process that’s all the more vivid when it comes to Paris as I know the city and the race so well. They remind me of what I’m trying to achieve and spur me on to strive for my goal.

“It’s not how fast you can go
The force goes into the flow
If you pick up the beat
You can forget about the heat
More than just survival
More than just a flash
More than just a dotted line
More than just a dash”

On Sunday I will once more be running those 26.2 miles around my favourite city. I’ve been working towards this goal for such a long time and striving to achieve that goal will be the ultimate test of my will. Hopefully the training I’ve put in, the atmosphere in the race and songs like this one will be just that something to fire the light that gets in my eyes, just like the chorus says.

Bon courage.

Please note that under UK Athletics rules, racing with headphones whilst on open roads is banned. If you choose to train with headphones, please be careful and make sure you are aware of your surroundings at all times.

Feel free to share your favourite workout tracks in the comments below…

Tunes on Tuesday – Cut, Print… Movin’ On

Many studies have shown that working out to music can have a number of positive effects and help us to push ourselves further. Music is also strongly linked to personal memories and hearing certain tracks can transport us to a particular moment in time. In this occasional series of posts, I’d like to introduce some of my favourite tracks from my workout playlist and share some of the memories they have given me.

Cut, Print… Movin’ On – Katharine McPhee (Smash)

From some of my previous Tunes on Tuesday posts you have no doubt got the idea that I enjoy a bit of musical theatre, so a few years ago when I learned that NBC was making a TV show based around musical theatre I was thrilled. Not only was it going to be full of catchy show tunes, but it had a stellar cast of established names and rising stars. What wasn’t to like?

I loved Smash right from the start and followed avidly the tale of the ingénue battling the experienced actress for the role of Marilyn Monroe in a new stage musical. I watched every single episode to see the coming together of a Broadway show and how the cast must balance their personal lives with the demands of that show. I watched the competition, the desire and, in some cases, the playing dirty to achieve a dream. When the show was cancelled after 2 seasons I was devastated. How come my favourite shows are alway cancelled? (I’m looking at you Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip).

For a musical theatre fan, this show was jam-packed with exactly the kind of music I like, with the added bonus of some songs being included time and time again as part of the journey from page to stage. The song I’ve picked for this post comes from the start of the second season. The show, titled Bombshell, has had a successful test run in Boston and now the team is heading back to New York to try and fulfill their Broadway dream. The song reflects on the time spent in Boston, the memories created, the hard times experienced and the need to now move forward in order to achieve a dream.

I could be twee and suggest that this is a bit like running: we create memories, we have struggles and sometimes we need to draw a line under things and move on. Realistically, I just like the up tempo feel of this song as it rises to a crescendo with the lines that will always stand out to a runner:

“Get up cause the rat race never ends
As life is a marathon
And I plan to run
So much more than a sprint”

What can I say? An uplifting, “you can do it”, “we’re in this together” or “let’s get on with it” musical theatre number will get me every time. I actually don’t have many show tunes in my running playlist, but I love it when one pops up as it makes me feel a little bit like I might be part of the show as I run along.

Hmmm. I wonder what a musical about marathon running would be like…?

Please note that under UK Athletics rules, racing with headphones whilst on open roads is banned. If you choose to train with headphones, please be careful and make sure you are aware of your surroundings at all times.

Feel free to share your favourite workout tracks in the comments below…

Tunes on Tuesday – Defying Gravity

Many studies have shown that working out to music can have a number of positive effects and help us to push ourselves further. Music is also strongly linked to personal memories and hearing certain tracks can transport us to a particular moment in time. In this occasional series of posts, I’d like to introduce some of my favourite tracks from my workout playlist and share some of the memories they have given me.

Defying Gravity –  Kerry Ellis

I do love a show tune, and this one I find particularly inspiring! Back in December I shared a Tunes on Tuesday post on that omnipresent behemoth Let it Go sung by Idina Menzel and the song I’m writing about today is probably better known for being sung by Menzel when she formed part of the original cast of hit musical Wicked. I love that version too, but this version by Kerry Ellis lends itself so well to running that this is the one I keep in my playlist.

My relationship with musicals goes back a long way. When I was a child we used to always take a family trip to the local pantomime at Christmas time, but as my sister and I got a little bit older our parents started to take us instead to Edinburgh to see whatever big musical was on there. I can remember seeing Cats, Chess, Barnum, 42nd Street, Jesus 
Christ Superstar and soon enough any road trip meant show tunes in the car with my sister and I singing along. I’m sure my parents loved that :-O And I’m pretty sure we only wanted rolled skates because of Starlight Express!

Since then I have always loved going to see a musical whether locally, in a bigger city or somewhere more “exotic” like London’s West End or, as part of one very fortuitous school trip, on Broadway! I find it hard to pick my favourite – Phantom of the Opera which I’ve seen several times, Miss Saigon which always makes me cry, or Les Misérables which stirs such powerful emotions. Perhaps it’s one of the newer shows like The Lion King which was truly amazing, or something I’ve not even seen yet like Hamilton which gets such rave reviews. Wicked is certainly in the mix…

I first became aware of Wicked not long after it opened. I was given a copy of the soundtrack and, with the advent of wondrous modern technology, was able to watch some clips online. To help me piece the storyline together I read the original novel by Gregory Maguire and dreamed of the day I would finally get to see the show live.  Listening to the soundtrack endlessly, Defying Gravity soon became my favourite track thanks to some of the lyrics about throwing off constraints and forging your own path:

“Something has changed within me
Something is not the same
I’m through with playing by the rules
Of someone else’s game
Too late for second-guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It’s time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes and leap!”

Later, the song encourages us not to accept limits others impose on us and to fight for what we want, something else I really believe in:

“I’m through accepting limits
’cause someone says they’re so
Some things I cannot change
But till I try, I’ll never know!”

Exactly how I feel when it comes to taking on a challenge or striving for a goal. And I especially love the sentiments of the chorus:

“It’s time to try
Defying gravity
I think I’ll try
Defying gravity
And you can’t pull me down!”

So why not pick the original version for my playlist? I think because the version by Kerry Ellis focuses more on the lyrics rather than worrying about some of the dialogue that is also set to the music. I also love the rock guitar sounds, played by Brian May from Queen! Overall it just feels slightly faster and is a better fit for the kind of song I like in my running playlist. Hearing those opening chords and anticipating those uplifting lyrics never fails to put a spring in my step!

I still love the original though and was thrilled to finally see the show (sadly without Idina Menzel) when it finally toured to Edinburgh at the end of 2014. It’s coming back next year though, so I’m already dropping hints…

Please note that under UK Athletics rules, racing with headphones whilst on open roads is banned. If you choose to train with headphones, please be careful and make sure you are aware of your surroundings at all times.

Feel free to share your favourite workout tracks in the comments below…

Tunes on Tuesday – Rise

Many studies have shown that working out to music can have a number of positive effects and help us to push ourselves further. Music is also strongly linked to personal memories and hearing certain tracks can transport us to a particular moment in time. In this occasional series of posts, I’d like to introduce some of my favourite tracks from my workout playlist and share some of the memories they have given me.

Rise – Katy Perry

As our lives begin returning to “normal” and reality hits us hard after the festive season, it’s easy to feel bit down. Not only does work have a little less shine to it without the tinsel festooning every last inch of the room and the dulcet tones of a certain Mr Bublé filling the air, but the festive excess is probably catching up a bit. So to help us along as we try to get work/life/training back on track in this fresh, new year, here’s a song I find uplifting and motivational. Hopefully it will give you a boost too.

This particular track is a newer addition to my playlist. I first came across it back in the summer when US broadcaster NBC used it prominently throughout their coverage of the Rio Olympic Games. At the time it was shared prolifically on social media and I remember it featuring in one or two blog posts I read. And while there is an official video for the song featuring Perry herself, I much prefer the promotional “Olympics” version at the top of this post as it pays tribute to a variety of athletes including some very familiar faces such as highly decorated swimmer Michael Phelps, extraordinary gymnast Simone Biles, speed demon Usain Bolt and Team GB favourites Chris Hoy and Mo Farah. Even now, watching some of the footage from London 2012 included in the video brings back fantastic memories of being glued to my sofa during those historic moments (I had to be forcibly removed on Super Saturday to get some fresh air!), and a lump once more takes root in my throat seeing the pride on the faces of the athletes. This is what makes me feel inspired to keep training hard to improve my own performance. I won’t ever be going to the Olympics, but I can still become fitter, stronger and faster than ever before.

It’s the sort of track that really epitomises my ideal running/workout track, with its slow build, strong beat and lyrics which speak of victory, rising above an opponent and triumphing in the face of adversity. I like to choose upbeat, motivational songs, songs with a good tempo and which speak to me through their lyrics, particularly themes of survival, thriving, not letting others define you, fighting back and toughing it out through difficult times:

“When the fire’s at my feet again
And the vultures all start circling
They’re whispering, “You’re out of time,”
But still I rise”

If this track comes on during a race or training run, it helps to give me that focus to keep working hard, push on and try my best. It reminds me why I’m out there and what I’m striving for. I might even have been known to imagine myself as an Olympic athlete during the chorus!

“Oh, ye of so little faith
Don’t doubt it, don’t doubt it
Victory is in my veins
I know it, I know it
And I will not negotiate
I’ll fight it, I’ll fight it
I will transform”

Just writing about it gave me the motivation to get today’s workout done, so if you’re in a bit of a slump about returning to work or worried you’ve bitten off more than you can chew with your goals for this year, let Katy Perry and this fine selection of Olympians help to set you on the path to success.

“I won’t just survive
Oh, you will see me thrive”

Let 2017 be the year that you Rise

Please note that under UK Athletics rules, racing with headphones whilst on open roads is banned. If you choose to train with headphones, please be careful and make sure you are aware of your surroundings at all times.

Feel free to share your favourite workout tracks in the comments below…

Tunes on Tuesday – Let it Go

Many studies have shown that working out to music can have a number of positive effects and help us to push ourselves further. Music is also strongly linked to personal memories and hearing certain tracks can transport us to a particular moment in time. In this occasional series of posts, I’d like to introduce some of my favourite tracks from my workout playlist and share some of the memories they have given me.

Let it Go – Idina Menzel

Ok, ok. I know this one is pretty much a staple of young girls everywhere, but hear me out.

In case you’ve never realised, I love Disney. In the summer of 2017 my family will be celebrating 25 years since our “once-in-a-lifetime-never-to-be-repeated” dream holiday to Florida. It was the holiday that started it all, ultimately leading to my parents buying property there and me going every year I could manage.  But Disney and I have an even longer history than that: my first ever trip to the cinema was to see a Disney film (The Jungle Book). My dad took me back in the days when the only way to see Disney films was to wait for them to be released from the Disney vaults into cinemas. And I remember always looking forward to a TV programme called Disney Time which was produced about twice a year (Easter and Christmas I think) featuring clips from the animated classics and something about the forthcoming release. Of course this was before the internet and our connected world!

But when it came to Frozen, I was a little slow on the uptake. I can distinctly remember my sister giving me a row for not having seen it yet and when I finally bought it on DVD (I have a pretty comprehensive collection!) I had no time to sit down and watch it. She eventually got so frustrated that she announced she was coming round one day when I was on holiday for us to watch the film together.

And I loved it.  Perhaps not as much as my parents who actually go to live shows of it at Disney World, but I loved it. I’m a big fan of Idina Menzel so her powerful and theatrical performance of what was to become an Oscar-winning song was right up my street.

I mean, what’s not to like? It’s a song about no longer hiding who you really are (“Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know/Well, now they know!”), casting off the shackles of expectation (“I don’t care what they’re going to say”) and being your strong, confident self (“And the fears that once controlled me/Can’t get to me at all!”). Exactly the kind of message that I think important.

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And as a running song it’s ideal too, particularly towards the end as Elsa grows in self-confidence (and foot-stomping defiance!). I find the lyrics strong and motivational, particularly during long runs or tough moments, and they capture my thoughts when someone tells me I can’t do something:

“It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me I’m free

Let it go, let it go
I am one with the wind and sky
Let it go, let it go
You’ll never see me cry

Here I stand
And here I’ll stay
Let the storm rage on!”

As I said, what’s not to like? It may be a popular song among young girls everywhere, but for me it’s also a powerful song from a powerful female character that often gives me a lift just when I need it most. For that, I love it and I’m not ashamed to admit it!

Please note that under UK Athletics rules, racing with headphones whilst on open roads is banned. If you choose to train with headphones, please be careful and make sure you are aware of your surroundings at all times.

Feel free to share your favourite workout tracks in the comments below…

Tunes on Tuesday – Road Runner

Many studies have shown that working out to music can have a number of positive effects and help us to push ourselves further. Music is also strongly linked to personal memories and hearing certain tracks can transport us to a particular moment in time. In this occasional series of posts, I’d like to introduce some of my favourite tracks from my workout playlist and share some of the memories they have given me.

Road Runner – Imelda May

When I started this blog series I had no intention of it being a weekly post. In fact I had something much “looser” in mind, planning to publish monthly-ish. However in my last Tunes on Tueday post I wrote about an Imelda May track and mentioned that it was one of two in my playlist, so I thought it only fitting that I write about the second track soon after since they feel kind of like a “pair”.

From the title alone it’s probably pretty obvious why I like this one – a road runner is exactly what I am! With its upbeat rhythms, “panting” effects and catchy chorus, I like nothing better than a Sunday morning run (ideally in the spring when the weather is improving so I can shed some layers and hit some of my favourite country routes that I don’t run on so much during the winter) with this track acting as a soundtrack to my run. Coasting along on a runner’s high, it makes me smile; digging deep in the tough moments it reminds me that I’m supposed to be having fun!

“Never stop
‘Cause I’m having a blast”

On those days when running feels great, the weather is just right and I feel like I could go on forever, the chorus in particular just seems to sum up how I’m feeling as I glide (in my head anyway!) up and down the rolling hills with nothing but cows, sheep and the odd cyclist for company (by which I mean meeting a cyclist from time to time, not that they are in any way strange!).

“I’m a road runner,
I’m road running, yeah”

And when I’m trying to visualise a forthcoming race and picture myself crossing the finish line, arms held aloft victoriously, this song reminds me of what I need to do in order to get there:

“Gotta run gotta run
Gotta take what you can”

Basically, it just sums up my life. I’m at my happiest when I’m out on the road and I hit that moment when running feels effortless, like I could go on forever. It’s just a shame that sometimes I have to do other things like go to work!

Hearing this performed live when I saw Imelda May at the Southern Fried festival in July was a real highlight and I’m so glad I got that chance.

Photo credit - Linsey McArthur

Photo credit – Linsey McArthur

Now if you’ll excuse me, “gotta run…!”

Please note that under UK Athletics rules, racing with headphones whilst on open roads is banned. If you choose to train with headphones, please be careful and make sure you are aware of your surroundings at all times.

Feel free to share your favourite workout tracks in the comments below…

Tunes on Tuesday – Mayhem

Many studies have shown that working out to music can have a number of positive effects and help us to push ourselves further. Music is also strongly linked to personal memories and hearing certain tracks can transport us to a particular moment in time. In this occasional series of posts, I’d like to introduce some of my favourite tracks from my workout playlist and share some of the memories they have given me.

Mayhem – Imelda May

This is the first of two Imelda May tracks which have made it into my playlist. I love the upbeat tempo which keeps me going on tough runs and it’s one of those songs that just makes me smile for no particular reason. I don’t remember how I first came across it, but it’s been a constant in my playlist for some time.

Earlier this year, I discovered that Imelda May would be performing in Perth as part of the annual Southern Fried festival (a celebration of American/roots music) at the end of July. I knew right then that I HAD to get tickets, and luckily for me my sister works at the venue so she was put in charge of sorting it out. Truth be told, I was hoping she would be able to get a discount, so was thrilled when she managed to score tickets for free! It was a fantastic weekend of music and food, with this particular gig headlining on Saturday night.

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The concert was fantastic – the atmosphere was electric and Imelda was in fine form. I sang along to the songs I knew, and enjoyed hearing some new songs too. But when the opening bars of Mayhem began to play, a strange thing happened.

I was transported to the streets of Paris.

Sounds weird, I know. I have no particular memory of hearing this song during any of my Paris marathon experiences, yet it immediately triggered a vivid memory of running along those wide boulevards with a smile on my face and the shouts of a supportive crowd at my side. I was flooded with the emotions of running a marathon, and despite knowing I was sitting in an auditorium in Perth, Scotland, in my mind I was immersed in the streets of Paris, France. It was the strangest thing, yet it’s exactly what I meant when I wrote the header for this post series – that music is linked to personal memories and can transport us to a particular moment in time. Until that moment, I was convinced that those examples would be ones I was much more consciously aware of – the first dance from our wedding, the moment that Gabriella Cilmi spurred me on through the wall in my first marathon, hearing the London marathon theme at the expo ahead of my first experience of that race. I had no idea that I could be so “blindsided” by a track, albeit in such a positive way. It was an unexpected, but enjoyable moment.

Photo credit: Linsey McArthur

Photo credit: Linsey McArthur

This particular track has been in my playlist for a while, but after that evening at the end of July when I heard it live, it’s now inextricably linked with the Paris marathon in my mind, and we all know how much that race and that city mean to me. I wonder what other memories my music may trigger in future…?

Please note that under UK Athletics rules, racing with headphones whilst on open roads is banned. If you choose to train with headphones, please be careful and make sure you are aware of your surroundings at all times.

Feel free to share your favourite workout tracks in the comments below…

Tunes on Tuesday – The Trap

Many studies have shown that working out to music can have a number of positive effects and help us to push ourselves further. Music is also strongly linked to personal memories and hearing certain tracks can transport us to a particular moment in time. In this occasional series of posts, I’d like to introduce some of my favourite tracks from my workout playlist and share some of the memories they have given me.

The Trap – Ron Goodwin and his Orchestra

You might not recognise the name of this one, but UK readers should definitely recognise the track as it’s the iconic London Marathon theme (which probably gives you a clue as to why I chose it!).

My London Marathon experience came in 2011 when I gained one of those coveted places through the running club I was in at the time. I had run my first marathon the year before in Paris and despite my training for that race being less than ideal, I finished knowing that I wanted to have another go at the marathon, and that I wanted that to be in London. Here in the UK, the London Marathon is THE marathon. When you first meet someone and they find out that you run, they usually ask two follow-up questions: 1. Have you ever run a marathon? and 2. Have you run the London Marathon? And these days Steve and I like to play a fun game in the week before London to see how many people ask us if we’re going to be running it (usually non-runners who have no real concept of how difficult it is to get a place in the race or how much training it would entail!). It’s the most visible marathon in the UK, and for that reason the one that captures the public imagination the most.

Like many big city marathons, runners have to attend an expo to collect their race number. I had actually visited the London expo a couple of years previously when I went to support Steve (it was that experience of spectating at a time when I was really just beginning my running journey that first made me believe I too could run a marathon one day). I knew how big the expo would be, I knew how many samples and goodies I would be handed and I knew the theme music would be playing in the exhibition hall. What I didn’t know was how emotional that music would make me feel!

The race expo is the moment when your race experience suddenly gets real. You have your race number in your hand and are surrounded by others with the same aim as you – to run 26.2 miles. The excitement, nerves and anticipation are palpable. It can be an emotional time and, as a relatively new marathoner, I still remembered the wave of emotions that hit me when I crossed that first finish line, as well as my determination to complete a full training cycle and take part in this iconic race. Every time that music played, those emotions washed over me again.

Everyone told me that the London Marathon would be one of the greatest experiences of my life, and they were right. It may not have been my first marathon, but it was still amazing, no doubt because I was running on a course I had watched on television every year for as long as I could remember. After all, the London Marathon is just one of those TV events that everybody watches. It’s a shared viewing experience, and here I was being part of it. I couldn’t believe it.

Lon-DONE! VLM 2011

Lon-DONE! VLM 2011

I put the London Marathon theme into my playlist as I knew it would be a reminder of that amazing day. When I listen to music during a run or race I have my playlist on shuffle so I never know what’s coming next, and hearing this one always brings back the memories of that day. I must confess, it still tends to make me feel emotional, especially on London Marathon day when it’s played on TV several times. I returned as a spectator in 2012 and as soon as I stepped into the expo and heard those opening bars, I was transported back to my own experience of running the year before.

For me, this track will forever be bound up with the emotions of that one race experience. So if you ever see me running and I look like I’m crying, my iPod has probably just picked that moment to play me it!

Please note that under UK Athletics rules, racing with headphones whilst on open roads is banned. If you choose to train with headphones, please be careful and make sure you are aware of your surroundings at all times.

Feel free to share your favourite workout tracks in the comments below…

Tunes on Tuesday – On a Mission

Many studies have shown that working out to music can have a number of positive effects and help us to push ourselves further. Music is also strongly linked to personal memories and hearing certain tracks can transport us to a particular moment in time. In this occasional series of posts, I’d like to introduce some of my favourite tracks from my workout playlist and share some of the memories they have given me.

 On a Mission – Gabriella Cilmi

Whenever I’m asked for my favourite running track, this is my immediate answer. My attachment to this one goes all the way back to the pre-blog days of 2010 and my first marathon. I was just a few weeks into training and reaching the point where every long run represented the furthest I’d ever run, when I headed out for my first 16 miler. I had barely even begun when I realised that something was wrong and decided to abort the run and hobble back to my car. A trip to the physio confirmed my worst fears: an injury. Tendonitis of the ankle to be precise, and running was out for the foreseeable future.

The thing is, that first marathon was to be Paris. Flights were booked, accommodation was booked, Steve was also signed up to run and we were most definitely going. Rather than give up all hope, I decided to cross train and see if I could make that start line. I put in HOURS on the elliptical machine at the gym – I even tested out gels on there! – and kept up my fitness as best I could, eventually adding short treadmill runs into the mix.

And it was during that time of dogged determination to keep on training, despite countless people telling me there was no way I could complete a marathon without running at least one 20 miler, that I heard this track on the radio. It instantly spoke to me with that perfect mixture of upbeat tempo and motivational lyrics that is the staple of my workout playlist. Almost every line seemed to sum up how I was feeling and gave me the motivation to keep on going:

“It’s time for me to make a move
And I know what I gotta do
‘Cause I got everything to prove
I got a plan I’m sticking to”

It saw me through my training, and my iPod managed to select it somewhere deep into the marathon – which I DID finish! – around the 17/18 mile mark when I needed it most. By this point, it had become “my” song.

“I am a woman on a mission, woah
Nothing can stop me, I’m stronger than ever
I wanna see this through
I am a woman on a mission, woah
Whatever it takes I will do what I gotta do”

 

First marathon - Paris 2010

First marathon – Paris 2010

This track remains a permanent feature of my playlist, and whenever I hear it I feel that surge of adrenaline to push on with a smile on my face. If I’m running, I’ll probably speed up, and if I’m working out in the gym, I’ll dig in and try even harder with whatever exercise I’m doing. This track even won me a prize this time last year when I noticed a Facebook competition from Tribesports asking us to tell them about our favourite running track and why we liked it. I told a shorter version of my story, and won the competition! Appropriately enough, the prize was a set of Jabra Sport Rox wireless earphones for me to continue enjoying my favourite running track (and many others). Just one more reason for this track to retain its special place in my heart.

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You can read more of my thoughts on running and music here.

Please note that under UK Athletics rules, racing with headphones whilst on open roads is banned. If you choose to train with headphones, please be careful and make sure you are aware of your surroundings at all times.

Feel free to share your favourite workout tracks in the comments below…