Happiness Hit Me


To date, that’s how many plays my iTunes account has recorded for “Dog Days”, by Florence and the Machine.  I listened to that song, on repeat, for every single run I did for the first six, maybe seven months straight.  I have a standing joke / deadly-serious agreement with my husband that if I ever need rousing from a comatose state, that’s the track to put on my headphones.  If I happen to catch a few bars drifting out from a shop, restaurant or passing car, my heart rate goes through the roof – a Pavlovian response to the almost endless hours and miles of training to “You’d better ruuuu-uuu-un…”

Although I know many love to, in fact I don’t listen to music when I run any more; sometimes I’ll catch up with a radio programme podcast, or a recording of a talk or lecture, especially if I need to listen to something in particular.  If my attention is focused on an audio track I run slower, so it’s a good technique to distract me from barrelling out too hard too soon, conserving my overall energy on a longer run.  But in the early days, Florence was the only thing that got one foot in front of the other.

That song was perfect.  I was aware of the somewhat obsessive nature of listening to the same tune over and over and over, for thirty or forty minute stretches, three or four times a week.  Yes, it was a bit weird.  But the beat was spot on for my pace.  The lyrics inspired and challenged me.  The familiarity comforted and strengthened me.  And it’s a great big enervating kick-ass anthem of joy.  At a time when I was training my body to do something it had never done before, and forcing my brain to tune out every inner voice protesting the pain, the bursting lungs*, the dead-weight of my feet… ceaselessly blasting this into my ears was better than a screaming drill-sergeant.

So as we’re looking at making a start – it may not work for everybody, but this technique formed a key part of my sticking power early on in my running journey: find a groove, and stick with it.

The cover from the Florence and the Machine album on which you'll find Dog days Are Over

The  Florence and the Machine album on which you’ll find my perfect running track

(*You see?? Album title? It’s a running song…)


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