Thursday, February 12, 2009

How I discovered I don't need heavy metal to excercise

I’ve been listening to heavy metal while exercising for years. When I go running, it’s usually something loud, angry, and fast, something that makes me feel like punching somebody in the face, like Slipknot or Ministry. The more punishing the workout, the more skull crushing the metal. This has been my M.O.

A funny thing happened last week. I went running with the wrong music. My iPod Shufflewas loaded with a playlist called Transit, something I listen to whenever I’m traveling. It’s got a lot of great songs – Ben Harper, Sam Cooke, Tom Waits, Röyksopp, Bright Eyes, The Beach Boys – but, no heavy metal. The list has some slow songs, some ballads, even some sad songs.

I hit the pavement ready for some melt your face heavy metal. I was hoping to hear Angel of Death, from Slayer's classic album, Reign in Blood. It's a nice angry song about Satan. Perfect for running on a sunny afternoon. Instead, I heard August Day Song, by Bebel Gilberto. August Day Song is no Angel of Death. It's in Portuguese and it's sweet sounding. There are no screaming guitars or people. I don't know what it's about, but it's definately not about Satan.

I almost turned around and went home to reload my iPod with some real music. But I didn't. And somewhere between Bebel Gilberto and Imogen Heap, I discovered that I don't need heavy metal to run. That, in fact, I don't enjoy running while listening to heavy metal. After more than ten years.

I ran three times farther that day than I ever have before. I am not saying this to toot my own horn. There is a lesson in this rambling screed. I chose to listen to the heaviest of heavy metal while I ran to psyche myself into a mental space appropriate for grueling, punishing physical exertion. And it was, because that's where my mind was. I psyched myself into hating to run.

Well, no more of that. Here's the song I enjoyed the most on my run:

Tom Waits - Mule Variations - Come On Up to the House

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