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Do you remember the days of calling into the radio station to request your favorite song, followed by waiting by the stereo to press ‘Record’ the second it came on? Of course, you always cut off the first few seconds of the song in the time it took to recognize it, but you were proud of those mixtapes and the patience that went in to making them.
Those days are obviously long gone now, but making playlists is still a way to let those memories live on—albeit, it is much easier process now.
Sure, there are running apps that will match music to your pace or build you a playlist, but it doesn’t give that same satisfaction as planning out and building your perfect playlist.
When it comes to building a playlist for a race, here is the what you need to know: your expected pace/finish time. Once you have that, you can build a playlist full of perfectly timed and curated tracks to get you through any hills or sprints to the finish.
I have done this for many races in the past, including the Austin Half Marathon. When training, I did a series of 2-mile time trials in order to calculate my expected pace. From there, I pulled up the elevation chart and course map and got to planning.
That huge jump in elevation at mile 10? That is Enfield and for me, the ABSOLUTE WORST. So, that is one place I knew to put two kick-a$$ songs that would get me up that hill (I choice Barton Hollow by The Civil Wars for their repeated, “Keep walking and running and running for miles,” line). The beginning of the race? That’s when I know I want to be pumped. My favorite song for a start of a run is Bright Lights, Big City by CeeLo, so I put that song third on the playlist, to account for the time it would take me to get through the corrals and to the actual start line. Of course I also added Run by Collective Soul right after that—”I’ve got a long way to run”—and then populated in some other favorites through the way. The end of the race? That was reserved for Lose Yourself by Eminem.
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Once you know your expected pace, you can build the perfect playlist to have certain songs when you’ll need them the most—like I did with Enfield—and that is something no software can predict.
Have you ever built a playlist this way? It takes time, but for those of us that miss the mixtape days, the time is worth it come race day when you have that extra motivation to power up those hills.