The Evolution of My Running Playlist
By Kellee Donovan
One of my favorite things about running used to be my playlist. I would spend an embarrassing amount of time crafting the perfect group of songs, starting off with some more mellow sounding tracks to get me going, then building up into some beat thumping motivational jams (Beyonce, anyone??), then slowing it back down with some cool down tunes. This playlist was seriously one of the only things that could get me out the door to run, especially come winter time in Michigan. I loved the idea of losing myself in the music while simultaneously getting in a great workout; however, I have definitely evolved as a runner and person since the creation of these playlists, and I find myself being motivated by a different playlist of sorts these days.
I feel pretty lucky to live in a state that experiences all seasons and conditions. It has been the result of some pretty interesting (and beautiful!) runs, like the times during blizzards where I have had to wear ski goggles and simply try to stay up on my two feet, scurrying from one area of solid footing to another, or the times up north I’ve gazed at the stunning Lake Michigan shoreline with the sun shining down on me. I don’t know if it stems from my personal desire to try to detach from technology more lately, but recently I’ve discovered more satisfaction from taking my earbuds out and simply enjoying the sounds around me, versus listening to a catchy chart topper. Whether it’s the chirps of the birds, rush of the Red Cedar, or brush of the leaves, running with no distractions has given me more awareness of my surroundings, which has been safer (!!) and much more calming and peaceful to my mind and body. The other thing I’ve noticed after disconnecting from my playlist is I’ve been forced to listen to my body more, and not just in the figurative sense to prevent injury, but listen to my steps and my breathing patterns. This has given me such a newfound appreciation for what my body is capable of doing. The times when my mind has told me to give up and my body kept going is so empowering!
Here’s the thing: I NEVER thought I would run a marathon. Like, ever. But two marathons later I’ve realized that our bodies are capable of some pretty amazing things. I had so much more gratitude for what I was able to do and appreciated the area so much more when I really listened to my body go through those incredible experiences. It was amazing being able to see so many different parts of Traverse City and Detroit and experience it in a way that only a road race could provide. I had the opportunity to speak to other runners, giving and accepting encouragement, see beautiful landmarks, and appreciate it so much more than I think I would have if I had earbuds in the whole time.
So I challenge those who are reading this to unplug from one run this week (if you don’t already) and see what you can discover about your surroundings and maybe even about yourself as runner. Don’t be fooled, I still need Queen Bey to give me some motivation every once in awhile, but unplugging has truly given me a whole new appreciation for this crazy beautiful thing we do!