Athletics and I traditionally don’t mix — a rift formed by years of sub-par performances in elementary school kickball, dodgeball and Ninja Warrior. So when it comes to running on a treadmill, it not only takes me forever to muster the lady-balls to get my ass on the machine, but I have to painstakingly craft the perfect playlist in order to keep my mind on the prize. Thus, I present to you, after much overanalysis, the definitive guide to timing your running playlist to the progressive mental stages of the athletically disinclined.
Song 1: The Warm-Up. I recommend starting off with an easygoing, smooth ditty to put yourself at ease, help you transition from a brisk walk to a run. It has to be feel-good, care-free and convince you that 30 minutes on the treadmill will be a piece of cake. Might I suggest a Jason Mraz such as “I’m Yours” with a squeeze of Michael Buble “Still Haven’t Met You Yet” for a starter.
Songs 2-3: In the Groove. At this point, you start to hit your stride. You start jogging on beat to some self-empowerment numbers you wouldn’t dare admit you liked to your more artistically discriminating friends. You may even feel the urge to start punching the air, lightly but with pizzazz. Because hell yeah, I am a firework and the only girl in the world and of course we r who we r!
Songs 3-4: The Invincible Pinnacle. Around the 12-minute mark, you begin to hit that runner’s high, and suddenly you’re Bastian on top of Falkor at end of The Neverending Story. You can probably stomp a shark in the mouth and it would apologize profusely. Throw down with some cocky power rap like “Power” by Kanye West or Jay-Z’s “99 Problems.”
Songs 5-6: Mother Nature Says “Slow Down, Son.” Okay, okay, so your calf muscles are starting to seize up a little. You’re losing a bit of steam, breath is getting short on the uptake. Time to leave the modern day behind and channel the time-tested waters of Top Gun’s “Danger Zone” and Flashdance’s “Maniac.” Kenny Loggins, don’t fail me now.
Songs 7-8: The “Don’t Look at How Far It Is To The 30-Minute Mark, Concentrate On The Song” Songs. Things are looking dire in your respiratory system, and you’re starting to be convinced that your machine is rigged to make time move slower. You begin to question your resolve. You’re frantically thinking to yourself that maybe you’ve set your goals too high. Now is the time to throw in the big guns — longer songs that can counteract the seemingly slowing clock. Think “Lovestoned” by Timberlake the extended version. If you’re exhausted enough, you’ll actually feel like you’re moving in slow motion during the interlude.
Song 9: The “Oh God, I’m Going Pass Out On This Treadmill And Everyone Is Going To See Me Break My Face. Concentrate On The Song! Concentrate On The Song!” Song. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me, Lady Gaga. Thy dance riffs and thy synth beats, they comfort me.
Song 10: Don’t Call It Cooldown. This is your triumphant battle hymn against muffin tops and saggy thighs. Celebrate with a dunk into some swelling choruses, à la “Sweet Disposition” by Temper Trap or your favorite Glee rendition. Drape your towel around your shoulders and take a victory lap, soldier. You deserve it.