How to BQ: The Right Tunes

I’m continuing my post-Phoenix Marathon brain dump, which I hope can help me with future races, but also help my readers who are looking to optimize their own performance.  I previously provided an overview of all the thoughts I had during the race, and then I wrote about how pacing and nutrition played key roles in my success. Next up: MUSIC!

I am not a music freak.  I don’t know what the kids are listening to.  I rely on FlyWheel instructors to clue me in on what is hip.  I can’t keep musicians straight — I’m known for having gotten Brian Adams and Ryan Adams and Brian McKnight all confused.  When I’m in the car, I cruise around to whatever is playing on the country station.  If I’m at a concert, it’s probably bluegrass, and the concert was probably a friend’s idea.  I train listening to podcasts, and I don’t usually keep lists of motivation running tunes like my friend over at 50 in 50 Marathon Quest.  For most of my races, I put on Pandora’s Katy Perry radio and hope for the best.

But I knew that to have the best shot at a BQ time, I needed some sick beats to keep me motivated and positive.  So I created a playlist of some of my favorites from over the years that would make me feel like a badass, downloaded it locally on Spotify Mobile, and played it on shuffle.  Worked like a charm.

Here’s what I came up with, starting with the obvious:

  • Bruce Springsteen, Born to Run*…

And then:

  • Alanis Morissette, All I Really Want
  • Alanis Morissette, Hand in My Pocket*
  • Avicii, Wake Me Up
  • The Brothers Comatose, Morning Time
  • Cat Stevens, Wild World*
  • Carolina Chocolate Drops, Cornbread and Butterbeans
  • The David Mayfield Parade, I Just Might Pray
  • The Del McCoury Band, Sweet Appalachia
  • Des’ree, You Gotta Be*
  • Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Home
  • Florence + the Machine, Dog Days Are Over
  • fun., Some Nights*
  • Gwyneth Paltrow, Country Strong
  • Hozier, Work Song
  • John Mellencamp, Small Town*
  • Journey, Don’t Stop Believin’
  • Lady Gaga, Born This Way
  • Lorde, Royals
  • Mumford and Sons, Awake My Soul
  • Katy Perry, Firework
  • Katy Perry, Roar
  • Kayne West, Stronger
  • Mat Kearney, Hey Mama
  • Meghan Trainor, All About That Bass
  • Pat Green, Wave on Wave
  • Queen, Don’t Stop Me Now
  • Rachel Platten, Fight Song*
  • The Raconteurs, Old Enough
  • Redbird, Ooh La La
  • Rising Appalachia, I’ll Fly Away
  • Starship, We Built This City
  • The Steeldrivers, Heaven Sent
  • Walk the Moon, Shut Up and Dance
  • Yonder Mountain String Band, 40 Miles From Denver
  • Young the Giant, My Body

Starred songs were ones that I remember as being particularly good in the moment.

For my next race, the Big Sur Marathon, headphones are not permitted.  This will be my first marathon without music, although I did do a silent half Ironman and survived.

Do you race with music, podcasts, or nothing?  Do you think in affects your performance?   Are any of these songs on your race playlist? 

4 thoughts on “How to BQ: The Right Tunes

  1. Awesome, and thanks for the shout-out!! It’s been fun and inspiring to follow your BQ journey. I did notice a couple of tunes from my list just happened to be on your BQ shuffle…see what motivational music Monday can do for a runner 🙂 Funnily enough, during a race I usually don’t listen to music although I do on almost every training run. When I’m tuned in, I also put my Spotify list on random mode…I’ll admit I do love my Spotify premium account. Now, I’m going to add a few of your tunes to my own lists!


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