The Songs For Running EP was written to help runners get to a 180 steps per minute running cadence. Running at a tempo of 180 beats (or steps) per minute (bpm) or higher has been deemed the magic number after research and experiments because taking more light quick steps reduces impact, increases efficiency and it tends to be the average stride rate for elite and veteran runners. Novice runners tend to have longer stride lengths, take fewer steps per minute and spend more time in the air. Inefficient form can lead to injury. Running to 180 bpm is one tactic to learning a quicker more efficient stride rate.
A few years ago when I began running more seriously and counting my steps per minute I found I was pretty consistently running at 160 bpm. As I began experimenting with running to music and being conscious of the tempo of the songs I was running to, I found running to playlists with songs consistently at a 180 bpm tempo to be extremely helpful.
When it came to writing songs for running I wanted to offer a selection of tempos that a runner may feel comfortable at but ultimately emphasize getting to 180 bpm. The EP was a short demo to figure out what songs written specifically for running could sound like. There are 6 songs all together. The first three are a series at 160, 170 and 180 bpm. The rest are all 180 bpm.
Songs For Running can be downloaded or streamed through iTunes, Amazon, Napster, emusic, Rhapsody and Spotify. It was released independently in 2009 with help from the amazing producer and all around awesome lady, singer-songwriter, Terry Radigan.
Songs For Running Track list:
1. If You Had a Life to Kill (160 bpm)
First of all, this song is not about killing anyone! It’s about that anger that you can occasionally have toward inanimate objects that don’t work (small technological gadgets I’m looking at you…) Am I the only one that feels like they’re doing it on purpose just to make me late for things? Yes, I know it’s absurd. In the background you can hear me experimenting with a giant accordion. When played with the band it takes on a Clash-like punk/reggae sensibility. That accordion part could probably be turned into a lovely ska horn section.
2. To Be Alone (170 bpm)
This song is about the more solitary meditative side of running. When the world gets crowded and frustrating it’s nice to be able to go out for a run and get some space and perspective. At 170 bpm it’s only a tad slow and a good transitional song for runners trying to increase their cadence gradually.
3. Get Out of My Head (180 bpm)
The content of this song is slightly embarrassing. I wrote it after a night out drinking when my boyfriend was out of town. It’s still fun to play at a consistent 180 bpm.
4. So Cold (180 bpm)
Running is a lot like a long term relationship, especially when it comes to running in extreme weather. You really find out who’s in it for the long haul when you’re out running in near blizzard conditions. Of course there are many patches of ice in a serious relationship too, so this song is metaphor about both.
5. Why I Run (180 bpm)
In Team in Training we talk a lot about “honored team mates.” These are people who have battled cancer that TNT participants run in honor of and think about while training to enforce their mission and give them strength. There are many inspiring individuals I have come across in my life and in my running. When it comes to who I think about when running when I need an example of strength and endurance I think of my father. Fortunately, he hasn’t had cancer and is in good health. He’s a life-long athlete and fitness enthusiast as well as some one with iron clad work ethic. I could not ask for a better role model than that.
6. Engineering Masterpiece (180 bpm)
In this song I wanted to express something that could drive you to the finish line on tired legs. I tried to tap into the state of mind you’re in when you are having the race of your life and are ready to empty the tank with everything you have. Your form is perfect, you are barely aware of the exhaustion because adrenaline is propelling you forward and somehow you can manage a strong finishing kick to the end. The accordion makes a re-appearance in this song as well as a Greek baglama. Recording this EP was really a fun time of musical experimentation for me.
The Lady Southpaw self-titled E.P. is also available on iTunes and Amazon. It is mostly a compilation of older songs that don’t have anything to do with running. It also includes “Every Step Together,” my first ever running song written to help the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Download it free from Lady Southpaw on ReverbNation.
Lady Southpaw (2008)
- Every Step Together (166 bpm)
- All the Images Wash Over Me
- It Settled Into My Clothes
- I Can Feel It Knocking
- Mama Blue