Eminem is the secret to my success

I was perusing through pictures of marathon runners on Google yesterday (don’t judge me) when I noticed that most, if not all, of the runners were sans music players. There was not one earbud in the crowd. This started to bother me because I can’t remember a single time in my entire life that I ever attempted to do any sort of cardio workout without the assistance of Britney Spears and Kelly Clarkson … and I don’t want my first marathon to be any different!

Back in high school I liked to run in the evenings, and I always lugged a moldy old Walkman with me (again, don’t judge me. It was 2003, and I couldn’t afford a good Discman. It’s not like I was running around with an A-Trak.) I would crank up my crappy audio recordings of Jessica Simpson or Janet Jackson and be on my way, so absorbed in my pretend concerts that I didn’t even notice how far I’d gone or how tired I was.

And yes, I said “pretend concerts”. One of my biggest hobbies as a teen was daydreaming that it was me up on stage or in the music video gyrating my hips in pleather low-riders . Narcissistic? Just a bit …

So now I’ve been doing frantic research online trying to see if the Indianapolis Half Marathon has outlawed the use of music players during the race (and I have mentioned that just reading the word “race” makes me break out in hives? Ugh! Why can’t the just refer to the marathon as a “light jog” or a “Sunday stroll”? I can do without the added pressure. I have zero intentions of racing anything except the impending anxiety attacks). Some marathons have gone so far as to disqualify you for listening to music. DISQUALIFYING you. Can you believe that?

"Nope. You were listening to Ke$ha. Doesn't count." 

I mean, I guess I understand the reasoning behind the no music policy – jamming to Gaga might prevent you from hearing important race announcements. But what would really constitute as an important race announcement?

“Attention runners: YOU ARE RUNNING. That is all.”

I’m sure if there’s a tornado coming or someone spontaneously burst into flames, it will be vital for the runners to know and plan accordingly. After all, rules aren’t meant to punish people, they’re meant to help. But I just can’t help but feel like banning music is unfair. If it’s kept at a low volume and I can hear all the major stuff that’s going on around me, what harm could it do?

So I might not hear a few mouth breathers trailing me which could possibly result in me punching them as I shake my shoulders loose. So what? They shouldn’t have been running so close to me.

And if there’s a sudden emergency, I can just gauge what’s going on by the sheer look of terror on everyone’s faces and hit “pause” on my iPod. Not like I’d listen to my music that loudly anyway … I just need a little AC/DC to give me that much needed oomph for mile 9, that’s all. And if I need to recruit Fergie to help me pick up my pace? It’s my prerogative (and yes, that song’s on my running mix, too).

A lot of the sites I was looking at kept mentioning that you probably won’t even want to listen to your music. Apparently race day is so exciting that you’ll want to spend your time listening to the crowds cheer you on and talk to your fellow runners. I don’t know what kind of athletic beasts usually sign up for these marathons, but I know for a fact that I can’t hold a conversation while I run 13 miles, let alone make small talk with complete strangers. I can hardly talk to myself while I run, hence my need for my music to entertain me. Listening to the bass of Mariah Carey’s “Obsessed” will keep me much more focused than hearing about Donna from Westfield and her silly cats.

I’m going to try a few small runs without my iPod and see how it goes … and my guess is that it won’t go well. My iPod died right before a run two weeks ago and I thought, “No biggie! I’m such a running machine, it won’t even matter!” By mile 1.5 I had a cramp and stopped.

Yeah, see? I need my music.

I don’t want to hear myself wheezing as I huff and puff along the course, it makes me dwell on every little pain and tired muscle in my body. When I’m lost in the world of my music I am a svelte, strong runner who could go on for days and never stop. I’m focused on my pretend concerts, not the 50 people who just passed me because my pace isn’t as fast as theirs.

I might try (the operative word being “try”) to do a short run without my iPod this week. Maybe if I can mentally prepare myself ahead of time to run without music, I won’t freak out and cramp up like last time. Running is mostly mental anyway; I just need to psyche myself up, not out. That way, if I find out I can’t use my music on race day, it won’t come as such a shock and I will have already built up an endurance to run without my beloved Glee soundtrack. I’m not saying I’m going to excel at this, I just said I was going to TRY.

I’ve also decided that I need to adopt a running mantra. Even though I do rely heavily on my tunes to keep my running mojo going, I oftentimes find myself meditating on images that make me feel Wonder Woman. For example, the other day a friend of mine began running their mouth about something they really didn’t know anything about and it severely rubbed me the wrong way because I thought it was a direct stab at me.

Regardless, I used those frustrations on my run last night, replaying their remarks in my head and using them as fuel to keep me going. It was one of those, “Well, I’ll show you!” attitudes, and it actually really helped. I’m not saying I want to feel irritated every time I run, but I want to be able to focus on a few powerful words to keep me motivated.

I like the Eminem song “Lose Yourself” (but didn’t we all back in 2004?) simply for the lyric, “Success is my only mother f**kin’ option, failure’s not”. I tend to dwell on that when I run, and it helps. Although, it would be nice to have a mantra that didn’t include the f-word.


  1. I'm 99.9% sure the reason they don't allow music players at SOME marathons and not others is because of a liability issue. If you fall and accidentally choke yourself because there were eight million people around you and you weren't running with your elbows up like you should have been, some crazy person might decide to sue.

    The larger the marathon is, the less likely music players are allowed.

  2. Yeah, but there's so much POWER behind a good f-bomb on occasion. As far as anger as motivator goes: If you need anyone to piss you off royally, I recall I used to be really good at that so I'm happy to help! Baha...hahaha...ha.


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