• Wed13May 2015
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  • Marathon des Sables 2015: not your ordinary running playlist

    You’re in the middle of the Sahara and it’s the dead of night. The stars are bright, the moon is luminous and you are plodding away, trying to cover as much distance as your little legs will carry you before sunrise. You may have people by your side but you are all tired of talking. After all it is the long stage and you knew it was going to be tough. So what and who do you turn to for motivation? Why that iPod shuffle and selection of music you’ve been carrying for the past 100-odd kilometres of course.

    Studies have shown that unless you’re an elite athlete, music can really help you focus, distract you from fatigue and take away the pain (see this piece on music motivation for more information). At this point in time, it just seemed right to plug in and let the music chosen by my partner take over.

    Why did I ask my partner to chose songs for me? Put simply, he has the most random assortment of music ever and if I’m going to be trudging through the sand at night, I thought I’d need to keep it interesting. And as you can see from the songs that I remember, it was certainly that. Here is a not so ordinary running playlist:

    1.  The Only One I Know, The Charlatans

    This was a flashback to the time when as a teenager I used to “borrow” CDs from the library and copy them onto CD or tape (naughty, naughty). It’s interesting to learn that music from your adolescence can be particularly powerful and this definitely hit the spot.

    2. Enjoy The Silence, Depeche Mode

    Words are very unnecessary, they can only do harm – it’s the dead of night and I’m walking in the silence with nothing but sand and shadows of people around me. This song was so apt.

    3.  Fox-Trot, Edith Sitwell/ Peter Pears

    I remember thinking what on earth? This is odd, very odd indeed.

    4. Bless’ Em All, George Formby

    Another complete surprise probably added deliberately by the partner to irritate me.

    5. Moving On, James

    We saw James at Latitude last year and this song was actually written in memory of Tim Booth’s mother who passed away but the lyrics really get to you, especially when you’re out in the Sahara.

    Never said I love you, hope you knew.
    Now my bags are packed and my sails are tacked
    And my course is marked by stars

    6. The Wild Ones, Suede

    There’s definitely a theme going on here but yes this atmospheric song by Suede made an appearance at around 3am in the morning (on my iPod).

    7. Banging In The Nails, The Tiger Lilies

    Now here’s an example of what fatigue can do to you. For some reason my brain confused the ‘B’ and ‘G’ with ‘W’ and another consonant (you don’t have to be on Countdown to work out what) and being a bit of a big kid, I burst out laughing. Just listen to it and maybe you’ll understand why.

    8. Manfred Macc, The Macc Lads

    Now I definitely didn’t imagine the language used in this one but you really can’t take it too seriously. I was thinking at Whaaat is this? But it helped pass at least two minutes of time out there. Apparently, one of their albums is called Beer & Sex & Chips n Gravy, which says it all really.

    9. Ain’t Got No, I Got Life, Nina Simone

    What a tune to hear when you’re up against it. Nina Simone reminds me of my final year at university and living with a fab bunch of girls. As fourth year language students who had returned from 12 months abroad, it was safe to say that none of us really wanted to be there. Nevertheless, we muddled through it together.

    10. Parklife, Blur

    With the finish in sight and high on Shot Bloks, I turned round to a fellow competitor who was looking forlorn and said: “Let’s play Name that song” (poor guy). I then started humming along to Parklife and then shouting the chorus when it came around on my iPod. He may not have got it straightaway as I was never blessed with a decent singing voice but at least my random warbling in the desert made him crack a smile.

    So would you ask someone else to put together a playlist for you? Would any of these songs motivate you to run? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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