Miles 19 & 20


Everyone has dreams. Since I was about 16 years old, one of mine has been to run a marathon. When I cross the finish line in NYC on November 5th, I’ll likely do so with a recorded time of between 4 and 5 hours. In reality though, it will have taken me much longer to get there. There are things inside and outside of us that bring us closer to our dreams. There are also things that delay us, that push us so far away from our goals they are sometimes out of sight. If we are lucky, little by little, we are often able to transform those stumbling blocks into building blocks–they become the foundation for our strength, resilience, and ultimate determination. This series aims to uncover my long journey. Each week, I’ll share the people, places, and things that have brought me to the place I am at today, and that I hope will carry me from the starting line in Staten Island, to the finish line in Central Park. Mile by mile–this, is my 26.2.

Miles 19 & 20- Music

I was never a fan of people being snobbish about music. I guess I’ve just always felt that the beauty of music is that it makes you feel something. In a world where everything else seems to be working to desensitize us, I’m all for people enjoying and holding onto whatever moves them. Perhaps my defense of music tastes stems from the fact that my own can undoubtedly be described as mainstream. There’s a good bit of music that I find from watching TV and movies. I call it my walking around music. This is the only area where I might claim to get a bit more original or eclectic. I’ll catch a small bit of sound in the background of a scene and I just know it’s a song I have to have. I’ll search until I find it and am most often led to artists I’ve never heard of and who have yet to have large scale success. These are not the songs I’ll be revealing to you today.

Instead I want to share a few of the tunes that I’ve been running to for years. As many of you know I listen to podcasts for the majority of my runs–only the last few miles usually go to music. That’s really because I can’t sustain all the emotion that music brings to my running for that many miles–allowing it to push me through the last half hour or so is both all that I can bare, and everything I need.

I know a lot of people listen to a lot of upbeat music when they run–at least that’s what I’m concluding from every single “running” playlist I see made on Spotify. While I do love fun songs with quick rhythms, they are not necessarily what I prefer to run to. Instead it’s the words that have always drawn me in–there has to be a message in there that means something to me and keeps me going.

This is finally a post that requires very few words from me; I will let the songs speak for themselves. It’s quite moving for me to think that some of these songs, along with running, have gotten me through almost every tough thing I’ve faced in my life. It feels like in some ways I could have never gotten through those runs without these songs…and I could have never made it through life without those runs.

These songs are in no particular order, except for the last one, which is my favorite song of all time, and has been since it’s release in 2005. This song has seen me through my entire adult life, and I can’t wait for it take through miles 19 & 20, and perhaps even across the finish line of my very first marathon. Goddamn it’s taken me a long time to get here…






High up above or down below
When you’re too in love to let it go
If you never try you’ll never know
Just what you’re worth

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you



If you enjoyed this piece, I hope you might like to continue with the series… please consider following me through WordPress or through email by using the links on this page. You can also follow me on facebook  ~all support is appreciated. thank you. x

header: adam birkett

42 thoughts on “Miles 19 & 20

  1. I have done the same thing when finding new music!! Even while shopping, I’ll stop to listen for the words of the song so I can search for it later!! I got the X Ambassadors Renegade from a Jeep commercial!!

    I have a few of these on my list!! Eminem was a great help getting through my TM runs this summer!!

    I usually listen to music while running by myself, the Hubs and I usually talk during long runs…well he talks…ALOT!!!

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  2. Fighter! Yes! Eminem yes! Rocky yes! Cold play yes so good!!! Hahaha I’m all for the meaningful emotional stuff too haha cold play is a prime example! One song that almost brought me to my knees, but majorly powered me in the end of my race.. Unworthy by Vancouver sleep clinic.. little obscure, but has a similar cold play feel and the lyrics are poetic, haunting and beautiful with major running undertones haha I’m a nerd. Thanks for sharing and reminding me of some of these classics!

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  3. Pingback: Week 15: “The Hard Part is Over, Right?” – cat h. bradley

  4. I’m liking your music choices Cat! I don’t listen to music much when I run, but when I used to be a bike racer I had a number of playlists for my sessions on the indoor trainer. Some of the workouts were brutal, so high-energy music got me through those sessions. I recognise a few tracks in your list from mine!

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  5. Some great choices and a fine eclectic mix. I haven’t listened to music when running for a long time partly because it tends to be banned on race days here and partly because I was becoming too dependent on the emotional upswings! Whatever gets you through can only be a good thing 🙂

    And in my brain you still can’t beat No One Knows by Queens Of The Stone Age for the perfect running track!

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  6. Deanna

    I have many of these on my playlist too – especially the Enimen songs. And Van Halen’s Right Now – why didn’t I think of that one for my play list? Adding now!

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  7. I’m not sure I could listen to Fix You on a run. I love that song but it literally brings me to tears. I highly doubt seeing a big man like me crossing over the finish with tears mixing in with the sweat all across my face! Haha

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  8. Music is such a huge part of running for me and life in general, really. I go with upbeat music for races, but when I am running just to run I prefer songs that take me to another place. To me, that’s the coolest part of music. My memories are tied so strongly to it.

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  9. Though I play music myself, I don’t listen to music while I run. But I play it in my head while I run to try to keep pace. First mile I try to run in time to “Cities on Flame” by Blue Oyster Cuit. Then I try pick it up to “Break on Through” by the Doors or “400 Lux” by Lorde, though my Milestone pod tells me that I don’t actually keep pace with the songs as recorded. Last .10 of 5k, I just go as hard as I can. This at least gives me a benchmark. Though I am trying to be a purist, I might someday have sound whilst running. Thanks for this entry and this blog.

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    1. Enough about being a purist, I’m more interested in the metronome in your head!! So crazy, and awesome you are able to do that, even if like you say you are a little off sometimes. That makes me think you were born to be a musician, it’s inside of you!
      I guess I never tried very hard to be a purist but once I got into longer distances, there was just no way I could go silent. I enjoy podcasts too much and I actually find my brain is clearer and more efficient with sound. Somehow it’s louder up there for me in silence. Doesn’t make sense to most people, but just the way I’m wired for now!
      Thanks so much for checking out my blog Dan, I’m really happy to have you. Hope you come back and chime in lots!!


  10. I am an all music runner. My playlist was named jammin Jesus music by an athesist friend. Running is my God Time so they go hand in hand. Whatever works to get you to mile 26 is all that matters. Keep on running! Oh my non secular songs are Eternal Flame (my wedding song) what makes you beautiful, shut up and dance with me and Uptown Funk.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally get that Rach! Running is def often God time for me as well–although I’m not at all religious so I could never quite get down with the Jesus music, lol. I will say though that running and listening to ‘Fix You’ is def the most plugged in I ever feel–there’s a huge spiritual component there for sure.
      That’s awesome that you can do music your whole run, your whole experience sounds very meditative!


    1. Yeah it was tough to cut this list down. Once I started putting it together I was sort of shocked at how many songs meant so much to me, it could have gone on and on!
      PS-I wonder how many times I have listened to Fix You in my life–must be thousands, seriously. If it comes on near the end of my run but there’s twenty minutes left, I will play it four times!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I know, epic moment! That’s kind of why I can’t listen to music on my entire run, especially when it’s long, it’s too much emotion, lol! Yes, Airplanes would prob fit right in, def my style!


    1. Isn’t that amazing Cathy how certain songs can totally get you going? I am so grateful for that-I definitely need it, sometimes to get out of the house, and sometimes to make it to the end of the run!! Thanks so much for reading Cathy, happy to have you here!

      Liked by 1 person

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