Here’s What Happens When You Crowdsource Your Marathon Running Mix

Andy Dwyer said it best: “Running is impossible.”

It’s also hard, and painful, and stupid, and because I’m also stupid, and apparently don’t mind hurting my knees by slamming my feet into the hard, unforgiving ground, I participated in my first half-marathon last month.

I won’t bother you with my finish time, but let’s just say I went faster than I expected, and slower than I wanted. I can’t even blame the weather, because the half-marathon was in Austin, Texas, where there is no weather except “hot” and “not as hot.” It was “not as hot” that day, with little to no wind. Perfect conditions for running 13.1 miles, which, in case you’ve forgotten, is impossible, hard, painful, stupid, and, oh yeah, really, really really boring. That’s why I asked my friends to make me a half-marathon playlist.

Could you email a song you think I’d enjoy hearing during the marathon? It can be something we’ve listened to together, or a personal favorite of yours. If it’s good for running, it’s good for me (so, no John Cage’s ambient nothingness).

Here’s what I got in return, divided into 10 categories.

1. Gym Songs

“Toxic” by Britney Spears
“Titanium” by David Guetta
“Venus Fly” by Grimes
“Black Skinhead” by Kanye West
“Part of Me” by Katy Perry
“Something I Need” by OneRepublic
“That’s What You Get” by Paramore

I’m 28 years old. It’s hard to keep up with What The Kids Are Listening To when your head is already filled with O-Town classics from years gone by. But I’ve done a decent job of keeping up with the Billboard Hot 100 by going to the gym every day. The classes I attend don’t allow you to listen to your iTunes or Spotify, so I put a lot of faith in instructors to not only teach me how to lift weights without throwing out my back, but also to pick music that doesn’t make me want to smash their skull with a kettlebell. None of this applies to “Toxic” and “That’s What You Get,” because those are great songs I was already familiar with, or “Black Skinhead,” from my third favorite Kanye West album, or Katy Perry, who’s inescapable, or “Venus Fly,” as Art Angels was one of my most-played albums of 2015. But the first time I heard “Titanium” was at the gym. It’s What the Kids Were Listening To In 2011, and one of two Sia songs on the mix. The other: “Breathe Me,” from the devastating Six Feet Under series finale. I haven’t heard that song at the gym.

2. Previous Marathoner Songs

“Lies” by CHVRCHES
“Modern Love” by David Bowie
“The House That Heaven Built” by Japandroids
“Beat Connection” by LCD Soundsystem
“North American Scum” by LCD Soundsystem

Two friends I requested songs from had previously run marathons. So, they knew what they were doing when they sent the roaring “The House That Heaven Built,” two LCD Soundsystem songs (though neither are “45:33,” which James Murphy composed specifically to run to), and CHVRCHES and David Bowie. Honestly, I could have done the entire half-marathon to Aladdin Sane and The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (other artist/album pairings that would work from starting- to finish-line: The Number of the Beast/Powerslave; Kill ‘Em All/Master of Puppets; Reign in Blood/Seasons in the Abyss — a lot of metal, basically). Not Blackstar, though. I would have started sobbing before taking my first pathetic step.

3. Pun Songs

“Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen
“Run Away With Me” by Carly Rae Jepsen
“Fast As You Can” by Fiona Apple
“Finish Line” by Lou Reed
“Run, Run, Run” by The Velvet Underground