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Exercise Playlists

Music that keeps you motivated

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McKenna Granberry, Melissa Granberry

MOTHER-DAUGHTER TEAM McKenna Granberry and her mom Melissa both like to run while listening to playlists they each put together.(Photo: lawellphoto.com)

It’s January, and our New Year’s resolve will never be stronger. If you’re looking at the new year as impetus to get your workouts in gear, you’re not alone. According to a Nielsen survey, the No. 1 new year’s vow last year was to “stay fit and healthy” or to “lose weight,” a promise that 69 percent of us made to ourselves.

But resolving to do something and actually doing it are two different things. How can we keep the first-week momentum going?

One way: with music.

Ann Hill has been running two miles a day, five days a week through the neighborhood for years. But only recently has she discovered some apps that make her workouts a little easier.

“One summer, I found what Nike [the Nike+ Running app] called a ‘Tempo’ playlist,” Ann says. “I really liked it because it would say, ‘Start running,’ and then start playing music at my tempo. It was all what I call ‘spa music.’ I could zone out and get into the groove. The summer I stuck with it, I did get faster because it told me my pace.”

Ann, who has three daughters, says she’s not much on listening to the radio. “Once the girls get out of the car, and there’s no noise, I’m like, ‘Oh, there’s no noise!’” So she depends on apps to choose the music she runs to. There are many.

“You can play music through Map My Run, but I need to play with that to figure it out, and fiddling with that app is not what I’m going to do tonight. Run Faster is one that might make me run faster, but it kind of yells at you. I need someone to tell me, ‘You’re doing a great job,’ not, ‘You’re going too slow.’ There’s another app called Spring, which will time your pace. But I get tired of all these apps that are $5, $5, $5, until you’ve spent $50 a month.”

Ultimately, Ann joined Spotify for $10 a month. “You can listen to songs and say, ‘Yes, I like that,’ and put it in your playlist, so you’ve got songs that motivate you to run.” Or you can choose already-set playlists. “I listen to a playlist called Confidence Boost,” she says. “It plays mostly Top 40.”

Another option she likes is audio books. “When I’ve done that, I sometimes find myself extending my run to finish a chapter. And there’s definitely no repeating [songs] when you’re listening to a book.”

McKenna Granberry, Melissa Granberry

McKenna Granberry and her mother Melissa both run regularly, with inspiration from music. (Photo: lawellphoto.com)

Melissa Granberry also runs three to four times a week and has run marathons with her husband Zach. “When I’m running, I need a beat,” the mother of three says. “I think it just kind of keeps me going, gives me something to sing along to in my head and keeps me distracted.”

Unlike Ann, Melissa chooses each song on her playlist. “It’s embarrassing what’s on my running playlist,” she says. “It’s dance and rap and stuff with a beat, songs from the ’90s and 2000s. A lot of old Justin Timberlake. Although when I walk Rocky [the dog], it’s more like Ed Sheeran, songs I like, and I don’t need a beat.

“I’m constantly adding to it and taking things off. If I keep skipping a song, I’ll take it off. And if they play a good song at Row or Orangetheory [gyms Melissa frequents],  I’ll add it to my list. The other day at Orangetheory I added a song to my playlist as soon as I got in the car.”

Melissa’s daughter McKenna, a junior at Lamar High School, follows her mom’s footsteps and runs three miles every weekday for Lamar’s cross-country team. While she doesn’t like listening to music for sprints, she does when running distance. “I think listening to music helps my workout, because it gives me a rhythm to breathe to,” she says. “It helps me set a pace. I can tell how long I’ve been running by how many songs I’ve played, and sometimes the songs will give me more energy to run faster.”

Like her mom, McKenna uses Apple Music to add songs to a customized list. “Whenever I hear a song with a good beat, whether it’s on the radio or on one of my friends’ playlists, I will add it to my own,” she says. Unlike her mom, McKenna says she’d rather not share all of the songs on her playlist, because some aren’t entirely appropriate. But favorites include Drake, Kendrick Lamar and Beyoncé.

Running Playlists

Melissa’s list

Lose Yourself, Eminem

Kiss This, The Struts

Locked Out of Heaven, Bruno Mars

Don’t Let Me Down, The Chainsmokers

Don’t, Ed Sheeran

King Kunta, Kendrick Lamar

This is How we Do, Katy Perry

Like I Love You, Justin Timberlake

Carry Out, Timbaland and Justin Timberlake

Magic, B.o.B

All About It, Hoodie Allen

She Sells Sanctuary, The Cult

Not Afraid, Eminem

Boom Boom Pow, Black Eyed Peas

Suedehead, Morrissey

The Way I Are, Timbaland

Kiss Kiss, Chris Brown

NO, Meghan Trainor

Truffle Butter, Nicki Minaj

Yeah!, Usher

Starboy, The Weeknd

Hello Good Morning, Diddy/Dirty Money

24K Magic, Bruno Mars

McKenna’s list

Swimming Pools, Kendrick Lamar

m.A.A.d. City, Kendrick Lamar

Backseat Freestyle, Kendrick Lamar

Know Yourself, Drake

9, Drake

Energy, Drake

Partition, Beyoncé

7/11, Beyoncé

I Mean It, G-Eazy, featuring Remo

Pursuit of Happiness, Kid Cudi

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