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.
Well hey there! It’s been a while since I’ve shared a Tunes on Tuesday post since these days I tend to focus on podcasts rather than music as my listening material of choice when I run, but after an experience this morning I felt inspired to write a little something.
My Disney playlist
Throughout the month of March 2021 I have been taking part in a Daily Mile challenge. No big deal there since I have been running every day for just over a year now, but alongside the challenge I have been ticking off mini challenges on a bingo card each day. Today, it was listen to music.
Sounds simple, right? But for me this posed more of a challenge than I expected.
Since I no longer listen to music when I’m running, I don’t actually keep any music on my phone so I was going to have to download something. I had plenty of space on my phone so there was no issue there, but what would I actually download? I still have a running playlist but it’s super long so I would probably have to be a bit selective. Yet when I started to think about it I didn’t feel a huge draw to this option as I remembered having tired of some of the songs in there after listening to them one time too many. This was when inspiration struck: I have a Disney playlist.
For the last year since Covid began to impact our lives, Disney has been my go-to, my happy place. I’ve watched Disney movies, shared my ear collection on instagram, listened to podcasts, watched vlogs and just generally immersed myself in the House of Mouse. What better thing to do on my run than listen to some uplifting Disney tunes?
Decision made, I had a quick scan over the tracks in my playlist to make sure they were all songs I wanted to listen to, then hit download. I gave the whole thing no further thought until this morning when I was getting ready to run.
Maybe it was because I’m on holiday this week so feeling rested. Maybe it was because the sun was shining and the temperature had crept up to T-shirt weather. Whatever it was, rather than just grab whatever kit I spotted in the drawer, I realised that I should match my kit to my music to create a theme. Cue my 2018 Disneyland Paris half marathon top paired with my favourite Minnie-inspired shorts:
With everything in place, I hit shuffle on my playlist and headed off. I expected to have a nice run in the sunshine listening to some of my favourite Disney tunes, but what I got was something more.
So caught up was I in listening to the songs, I hadn’t considered the way that Disney knows how to manipulate our emotions. This is true of the movies, the music and the theme parks. Added to that, I have a lot of memories tied to Disney, including running memories, which are sure to come to the surface when I’m running and listening to Disney music. As a result, I experienced a range of emotions during this run.
At first, I felt really happy. I was out in the sunshine, feeling fresh and mouthing along with the lyrics (at least I hope I was only mouthing the lyrics and not singing out loud ha!). The fates delivered me Hakuna Matata first and that’s such a cheery song.
In the second mile I had the steepest hill of my planned route and my phone decided this was the perfect moment for Let It Go. Actually every moment is the perfect moment for Let It Go, but it certainly does put a spring in your step to run up a hill. Yet as I tuned into those lyrics, I did feel a moment of high emotion, the kind where I might just cry but then am fine again right away. THAT is the emotional effect of Disney for me.
During my third mile it was Hercules who got me. Go the Distance is a classic for any Disney-themed running playlist as the lyrics are perfect inspiration:
I’ll be there someday, I can go the distance
I will find my way if I can be strong
I know every mile would be worth my while
When I go the distance, I’ll be right where I belong
Yup, I CAN go the distance. It reminded me of the mindset for long training runs for marathons past and digging in to reach the finish line of tough races. Not necessarily Disney-related this time, but it still connected me to strong emotional moments.
And that was how things continued. As my phone shuffled through the tracks in my playlist I felt happy, I felt sad, I felt nostalgic. I remembered Disney trips of the past. I remembered the emotions of running in Disneyland Paris. I remembered the emotions of visiting Disneyland Paris last summer when Covid cases were sufficiently under control not just to allow travel, but to persuade someone as risk-averse as me that it would be ok to be away from home for a couple of nights. I remembered my 2020 experiences of creating my own homemade magic in May and September. So many memories and so many emotions.
By the time I arrived home I had run 5 miles, listened to almost an hour of Disney music and was riding a high of endorphins that had me thinking about the impact that playlist had on my emotions – so much so that I did a bit of internet searching to see if I could find out more about what it is that causes it. I’m sure far more knowledgeable people than me can explain it better, but I’ve got my own theories:
- Disney is all about fantasy, a place where young and old can be distracted from the realities of the real world for a while. We need this more than ever right now.
- Our experience of Disney is often rooted in childhood and nostalgia. The films don’t shy away from heart-rending moments (Bambi’s mum, Mufasa) and we accompany characters through the best and worst of times. That creates those extremes of emotion that keep us coming back.
- The films are anchored by their music and that music tends to stand the test of time e.g. the music of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves is over 80 years old but I bet you’re singing Heigh Ho now that I’ve mentioned it!
- There’s some kind of “secret sauce” in the way the music is composed. It’s what creates the perfect blend of lyrics, key changes and soaring crescendoes. This, too, gets tied to our emotions and hearing a song again will trigger a similar reaction to when we have heard it before.
All of this to say, it was a run that felt different to any I’ve had for a while. It was nostalgic, it made me smile and it led to a welling up of emotions… I loved it! Safe to say that as far as I’m concerned Running + Disney = Perfect!!
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…