The Art of the Race Day Playlist
Making mixtapes has long been a passion of mine.
I’ve made them for friends, boyfriends and myself. I love sharing the music I love with the people I love almost as much as I love music itself. There’s something magical about getting someone else fired up about a song or a band you like; it’s as if sharing a small piece of yourself has helped make their world more colorful.
You may have seen the myriad race day playlists we’ve posted in this space. Today, dear Angels, I’m going to give you a few of my trade secrets on how to create a fool-proof race day playlist.
Map out the race and music. Know there’s a killer hill at mile 6? Throw in an ass-kicking song to power you through it. Your last three songs (essentially, your last mile) should be no-fail picks. Your powersongs. They don’t even have to be super-upbeat, but if they motivate you like no other, then they belong on your home stretch.
Variety. Especially for a long race or run, mix it up. Oldies, rap, alternative, whatever you fancy. For shorter runs, I have listened to one album start to finish, but I can’t imagine doing that on repeat for a half marathon. Snoozeville.
Go out slow. It’s solid racing advice and race playlist advice too. If your first song sends you sprinting out of the gate, you could be in trouble. Try something a little mellower to help put your mind in the right place and settle into a groove.
Add more songs than you think you’ll need. Maybe you’re not feeling a song at that moment and need to skip ahead, or maybe you bonk and take longer to finish than expected. Either way, there’s no shame in a little extra padding.
Transitions. The change in energy or genre should be smooth, gradual, i.e. you might not want to put Miley Cyrus and Marilyn Manson back-to-back. It can be a little, er, jarring.
Keep it fresh. Avoid running to songs you’re going to have on your race playlist for a few days (or weeks) beforehand. Don’t memorize the playlist order, either. Being pleasantly surprised about what comes next can be a great mental boost.
Playlist- or mixtape-making is an art that I have been trying to perfect for decades, and one that I hope I never grow tired of. I’m already fired up for my next race playlist endeavor: the Bix 7 on July 28. — Mags