My iPod is about 90% filled with modern rock songs. That means that during most of my long runs I’m plugging along to Godsmack, Digital Summer, Seether, and various other bands that create fast-paced music that keeps my adrenaline pumping. Then there is the other 10% of my music library.
On any given run I can be charging up a hill or battling through the heat while listening to the final notes of a new release and then I’m suddenly and violently thrown into a strange land of hairspray and spandex. The mental journey into this strange time period in which MTV showed music videos and pay phones were seen on street corners is tumultuous, unsettling, and… delightful.
But why not the 90’s? I liked the 90’s and I liked the music at the time. I had a Nirvana cassette (yes, cassette). I blasted Alice In Chains out the windows of my incredibly cool 4 cylinder propelled Ford. I bought into the 90’s – I really did. So, why the hell is it that when I’m on a long run I’m being reminded to consume calories by Duran Duran singing Hungry Like a Wolf?
I think I have the answer. It’s because 80’s bands can teach us everything we need to know about distance running. Everything! Let’s take a look at the evidence.
The Band: Bon Jovi
The Lesson: Hit the street running (Runaway), watch your footing (Slippery When Wet), and realize the pain is good for you (Bad Medicine). And you can achieve greatness anywhere – even New Jersey.
The Band: Poison
The Lesson: Give it everything you go, because it may not last long. There will come a time when you may no longer be able to run and you’ve lost your Unskinny Bob. Take the temporary setbacks in stride because every rose has its thorn.
The Band: Aerosmith
The Lesson: Costume races are okay. Sometimes Dude Looks Like a Lady.
The Band: Def Leppard
The Lesson: You can overcome pretty much anything. If you think that hamstring is bothering you, try having your guitarist die and drummer lose an arm. Suck it up, you’ll be fine.
The Band: RATT
The Lesson: Track workouts that go Round and Round can be tiresome, but pay big dividends.
The Band: Winger
The Lesson: Sometimes you are in the right place in the right time for a fleeting moment. Don’t get cocky.
The Band: Europe
The Lesson: Some lessons can’t be forgotten no matter how hard you try.
The Band: Skid Row
The Lesson: Regardless of your age, no matter how many days you stuff yourself into a shirt and tie, and despite the fact the closest you’ve ever come to getting your mug shot taken is looking at the bulletin board at the post office, somewhere deep inside we are still a Youth Gone Wild.
You see? Little did you know, these guys were actually distance running geniuses. Big hair sporting, leather pants wearing, cocaine fueled, distance running geniuses.
So feel no shame when you are hitting Mile 9 and The Bullet Boys are keeping you company. Take Vixen out for some interval training. Let Cinderella take you down that Gypsy Road. You aren’t living in the past. You’re learning from endurance philosophers like no others.
Maybe the age of music videos and phone booths should have stuck around. We could all use less reality TV and Clark Kent desperately needs somewhere to put on the suit.
How does music affect your running? Or, do you Enjoy the Silence (Depeche Mode shout-out)?
J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, Chalk’s Outline, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.
Watch for my new book, BOLT ACTION REMEDY, in 2017!
An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.
In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered. When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.
And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology