UPDATED: Finding the Best Podcasts for Running

My husband is obsessed with podcasts  – not just Serial and This American Life but lots and lots of other podcasts about tech and business and food and farming and health and medicine and relationships. He listens to them on the way to work, walking the dog, in the car, who knows when else.  I enjoy them – especially Radiolab – in the car with him on road trips (especially because we have different musical preferences), but I haven’t made them part of my daily life like he has.

However, on my last few long runs, I’ve been feeling… well, lonely.  Bored. Eager to get home and get on with whatever else the day holds. 

My Pandora Today’s Country Hits playlist just isn’t doing it for me anymore.  And I miss my running friend, who isn’t training for any races and is generally a busy person these days (hi, running friend – if you are reading this, I miss you and our long run chatting!), and my husband, who trained for the Philadelphia Marathon with me in 2014, has forever sworn off running after that race.  I’ve considered hopping on a run with one of the running groups around town, but that requires me to (1) find an appropriate group starting in an appropriate location and going the appropriate distance at the appropriate pace and (2) show up on the precise day and time when that group is doing their run.  Needless to say, it hasn’t happened recently.  (A few years ago, when I lived in a different part of the city, I was running some weekend mornings with a group and I really did enjoy it.)

So I recently asked my husband to put some podcasts on my phone so I could listen on my runs.  He downloaded the Overcast app, and loaded it up with the first episode of season 2 of Serial.  Then I got to searching for other podcasts I could add, because a 42 minute episode isn’t going to cut it when I need to run 18 miles.

Here is my list of what I am going to try, pulled from my own research and lists from Runner’s World and Daily Burn.  I plan to do some follow-up posts reviewing these podcasts specifically for listening to while running. I guess I need to go running now… Stay tuned.

  • Serial.  Obviously.
  • This American Life.  The classic.
  • Radiolab.  Unless we listen to them all in the car.
  • Wait… Wait Don’t Tell Me.  This was recommended by Runner’s World AND Daily Burn and is described as an “NPR quiz show.”  Allegedly funny.  We shall see.
    • UPDATE 12/31/2015: I tried out a couple of episodes and I just don’t get this one.  Maybe I’ll circle back later.
  • Planet Money.  Maybe I’ll learn something that will enable me to quit my job and play outside all day instead?
  • Amicus.  Because I’m a lawyer until Planet Money changes that.
  • Marathon Training Academy.  Seems appropriate.
    • UPDATE 12/28/2015: These folks (a couple) are super earnest.  They are experienced marathoners but still looking to learn and grow and acknowledge weaknesses.  I’ve enjoyed this one so far and plan to keep listening.
  • The Marathon Show.  Also seems appropriate. Sounds like it might be more of a behind-the-scenes look at marathons as institutions rather than  tips for training for one.  Could be interesting.
    • UPDATE 12/11/2015:  I started with this one (after finishing the first episode of season two of Serial) and so far, so good!  An episode about the growth of marathons and slower runners.  It included a chat with Wall Street Journal reporter Kevin Helliker (who wrote this and sounds like little bit of a douche a times) got me through six easy miles.
  • Dear Sugar Radio.  Because – true confessions- I LOVE ADVICE COLUMNS.  Also, Cheryl Strayed.
    • UPDATE 12/13/2015:  I liked this one.  Cheryl and Steve are so smart, candid, and well-spoken.  GREAT episode about weight and relationships.  I listened to five episodes in a row on my long run and it got a bit tedious, so you might do an episode or two of this one and then jump to something else.
  • Greater Good Podcast.  Supposed to be inspiring.  May be too touchy-feely.  May be awesome.
    • UPDATE 12/31/2015: This podcast from the Greater Good Science Center at Berkeley appears to be off-air.  I listened to a couple of episodes (Myths of Happiness and Sex, George Clooney, and Other Pleasures) and it was just OK.
  • The Rich Roll Podcast.  Same situation as above. From vegan endurance athlete Rich Roll.
    • UPDATE 12/28/2015: Some interesting topics but ultimately a bit too quacky for me.
  • Ben Greenfield Fitness.  From triathlete Ben Greenfield.
    • UPDATE 12/11/2015: As I set out for my run, I scrolled through the episodes for this one and wasn’t blown away by the topics.  Unless someone tells me this is a must-listen, I’m skipping it for now.
  • Bulletproof Radio.  About diet and nutrition and fitness generally.
    • UPDATE 12/31/2015:  No thanks.  Super quacky.  These guys are essentially pushing a ton of supplements as the solution to all of life’s problems.  Drink your Soylent while you listen.
  • Katy Says.  Running 20 miles probably doesn’t qualify as “restorative exercise” (the concept Katy promotes).  But maybe?
    • UPDATE 12/16/2015: UGH this podcast!  The hosts (Katy in particular) are sometimes whiny and sometimes sanctimonious (including lots of judgments about what is “natural” or “nutritious”). The rambling!  Oh the rambling!  Every substantive tip or insight requires 15 minutes of mostly irrelevant backstory.  And sometimes after all the groundwork is laid, the podcast just references a blog post or book (as if that helps me when I’m out on a run).  A la Kramer on Seinfeld… Why don’t you just TELL me the pelvic floor exercises?  And inside jokes that I presume (hope) become “outside” once you listen long enough?  Annoying.  Oh, and the metaphors are tortured.  All that said, I’ll probably keep listening to this one because it has some pretty interesting (maybe revolutionary?) ideas about movement and I want to learn more.
    • UPDATE 12/17/2015: OK, I’m converted.  I don’t take back what I said.  But I’m pretty into this one.

Here they are saved in the queue in Overcast:


Anything I should check out once I finish this list???  Would you rather listen to running and fitness podcasts while running, or podcasts about completely separate topics?  Other than podcasts, what do you do to occupy your mind during long runs or workouts?  (See, this is like my own little advice column, where I ask all the questions!)

UPDATE 12/17/2015:  Here’s a list of others I’m going to try out once I finish my original list.

  • The Moth.
    • UPDATE 12/31/2015:  I like this.  Short stories told by performers and amateurs.  All different topics and tones.
  • Modern Farm Girls.  Recommended by Katy Bowman from Katy Says.
    • UPDATE 1/5/2016: No, thanks.  These women are paleo, which is totally fine.  But they are… more than dismissive… let’s say “hostile” to “the vegans” — that monolithic group of illogical wackos who apparently accost the Modern Farm Girls at public events and who are, without a doubt, “going to get sick and start eating meat again.”  I’m not a vegan but lumping them all together and making an absurd judgment about their health isn’t really opening my mind or enriching my knowledge in the way I had hoped this podcast might.  So I’m moving on.
  • Grammar Girl.  This might be miserable.
  • Invisibilia.  Recommended by Dani Hemmat from Katy Says.
  • Run to the Top.  Thanks janerunswild!
  • TED Radio Hour.  Thanks hungrytwenties!
  • ADDED 12/31/2015: The Gait Guys.  Expanding my biomechanics knowledge.
  • ADDED 1/5/2016: No Meat Athlete.  Can’t believe I forgot these guys on my original list.  No Meat Athlete was actually the first blog I ever started reading, and I rocked the carrot shirt at my fourth marathon (and maybe some others after that).  Blogger Matt Frasier has expanded his vegan endurance running empire to podcasting and is joined by former local Doug Hay, aka Rock Creek Runner.
    • Yup, it’s good.  Science and practical tips and no judgment.  The episode about pre-race nutrition got me pumped for the Mississippi Blues Marathon in just a few days!

8 thoughts on “UPDATED: Finding the Best Podcasts for Running

  1. I love listening to podcasts as I run– can’t wait to listen to more serial podcasts as they are released! One other podcast to add is run to the top with runners connect- it’s great for running tips and inspiration. Have fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: MSB Marathon Training T-Minus Four Weeks: You Gotta Be Bad, You Gotta Be Bold | athlettuce

  3. I personally love Ted Radio Hour. They are usually about an hour long but broken into four little 15 minute segments. If you’ve got a particularly challenging run coming up, I highly recommend listening to the “Champion” one during that run, however, I love all the TED Radio Hour podcasts I have listened to!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Quitting the Gym: What’s Next? ClassPass? | athlettuce

  5. Pingback: MSB Marathon Training T Minus Two Weeks: Christmas | athlettuce

  6. Pingback: 2016 Goals!!!: Four (Five?) Marathons, 3:45, and 2016 Miles | athlettuce

  7. Pingback: Year in Review: 2015 | athlettuce

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s