Play Your Power Song to Go the Extra Mile

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Every year or two, I get antsy with my fitness routine. My usual cardio becomes boring. Standard strength training doesn't hold my interest anymore. I get bored with my workouts and so I pick up a new pursuit, like Pilates, kettlebells or outdoor cycling. My latest thing is running. I used to be a competitive runner in high school and stuck with endurance running (6-8 miles several times per week) after graduating. But that got stale after a while and I didn't like exercising by myself all the time. So I took up Spinning, which has been my go-to cardio for almost 10 years now. I still love it, but as I was looking for something new to keep my interest and challenge my body in new ways, I returned to running.

At first, it was just once a week that I'd head outside for a 30-minute run. It wasn't easy, but I liked that about it. After a few weeks, I added another day of running to my week. Now I'm up to three times per week, still around 30 to 35 minutes each time.

Last week, I was ready for the next step: ramping up my running time to 40 minutes straight. I was tired that morning and not feeling entirely motivated to go 5 minutes longer, which also meant waking up earlier (and you may remember that I'm not a morning person). But then something happened that gave me a newfound energy to keep going...

OK—two things happened, actually. First, I updated my status on SparkPeople (which also feeds to Facebook) that I planned to run further the next day. Several members and Facebook friends of mine commented and cheered me on. Making my goal public gave me accountability. I didn't want to let others down, and that was a big motivation to push myself the "extra mile" (ok, more like "half mile") the next morning.

As I started running, I wasn't feeling particularly energetic. I tend to start slow, speed up in the middle, and finish slow. I was approaching the 25-minute mark on one of my usual loops, starting to slow down a little where I'd normally make my final turn on the homestretch. Today, however, I would continue going straight to extend my run. With near perfect timing, one of my favorite get-moving songs started playing on my iPod ("Rooftops" by Lostprophets ). I don't just like the beat of this song; I also like the lyrics.

When our time is up
When our lives are done
Will we say we've had our fun?

Will we make our mark this time?
Will we always say we tried?

That song played at the point when I had to choose to either go home or keep running. Not only did I keep running, but I also picked up the pace and ran as fast as I could until I reached my goal of 40 minutes. I actually felt inspired and energized to run even further, but knew I had to get to work soon.

It made me think about Nancy's recent post about theme songs. I thought, "Maybe this is my theme song." Better yet, it's one of my Power Songs! It played at the perfect moment during my run—just when I needed some motivation to keep going.

I often blog about workout music. I think that creating a workout playlist really does work. After last week's experience, I would encourage you to think about your own Power Songs and how you can strategically add them to your workout playlists. Maybe you need them in the beginning, as inspiration to start your workout when you'd rather stay home. (I do this, too.) Maybe you need your power songs in the middle of your workout or at that 20-minute mark when you start feeling tired and question whether you have the endurance to continue. Alternatively, like me, maybe you need it on the day you're choosing to push harder or farther than before—to remind yourself that you CAN in fact do it! No matter how you use them, I encourage you to think about your power songs. Some might have a great beat that you can't sit still do; others might have lyrics that inspire you to be your best ("Will we always say we tried?" worked for me.)

I'm going to keep thinking about my Power Songs so I can create a great playlist for my next 5K this September. I'll be running with Nancy, Stepfanie and other SparkPeople members the day after the SparkPeople Convention, and my goal is to run the whole route—yes, even up the big, big hills—without walking as I did during my first 5K. With enough Power Songs up my sleeve, I know I can do it!

Do you have any Power Songs? Do they help motivate or energize you when you need it most?