I don’t know about you, but I can’t run a step without my tunes in my ears. There’s just something about listening to a beat that motivates me, helps me pace myself, and most importantly, takes my mind off the fact that my knees ain’t 20 years old anymore! But my trusty iPod no longer just keeps the music flowing; it has become my on-demand professional personal trainer-in-my-head. And not just any personal trainer mind you. I’ve got Lance Armstrong, Serena Williams and Kara Goucher (pro long-distancer runner) designing my routine and encouraging me every step of the way.
Think I’ve got connections? Nah…just an obscure little area of the iTunes music store. It’s the Nike Sport Mix section, where you’ll find music mixes designed specifically for different running goals, from running faster to running longer. Transitioning between songs, you have your expert celebrity trainer pacing you, while offering advice and motivation.
iTunes calls these mixes “Coaching Runs,” and they’ve got them for beginners, intermediate runners…even folks whose feet never leave the treadmill. Although some of the “in-your-ear” trainers mention checking your Nike+results (that’s the little sensor you can put in some Nike shoes that records and sends your stats to your iPod), but that’s just a tiny little annoyance – easy to ignore if you don’t run in those Nikes.
You’ll have to judge for yourself if you think the $12.99 price tag is worth it. There are about 14 songs on each mix, typically a 50/50 split between $1.29 and 99 cent tunes…so you’re getting a decent price break on the music costs alone. Plus, you can play the continuous music mix with the coaching voice-over, or just play the unadulterated tunes individually. For me, it has been great to have a music mix custom-designed to help me achieve certain goals, and I love having the trainer tell me when to speed up and slow down during interval training – I never have to look at my watch anymore. But one word of warning: look closely at the list of the individual songs included in each mix; listen to the clips of songs you don’t recognize. Because if you can’t stand the song, you sure as heck don’t want it rattling around in your head while you are trying to run!
As you can see above, the iTunes store has a number of these Coaching Runs from which to choose. My favorites? Kara Goucher’s Endurance Boost (but ya gotta like the Black Eyed Peas), and Master the Treadmill with Ok Go (get it? the band famous for their dancing treadmills in the Here It Goes Again video?). The Ok Go guys are obviously not trainers, but they keep you entertained with their banter and at least give you time checks for your workout.
Check ’em out…and the next time some ripped young hotshot at the fitness center asks who your trainer is, you can say, “Lance Armstrong…who’s yours?”