Advice

Why I Listen To Podcasts Running + My Favourites

May 17, 2020

In my TIPS FOR NEW RUNNERS post, I recommended listening to podcasts instead of music while running, and it seems to have struck a chord with a lot of you. I’ve had lots of lovely messages saying how much switching to podcasts has helped you ease into your run and get somewhat closer to actually enjoying it — result! I thought I’d follow up on that post and delve a little deeper into the topic of podcasts and running, as it’s definitely a combo I swear by —for short runs and long runs— for numerous reasons.

First and foremost, podcasts are a welcomed distraction. Lots of times I’ve been asked ‘what do you think about when you’re running?’ and the answer is: running. I think about how it feels, what aches, “am I tired?”, “am I too tired?”, “how far have I gone?”, more importantly “how far have I got left?” along with my little mantras I run over in my head. I think that’s kind of what I love about running though. It’s escapism from your usual thoughts, to-do lists, and work worries. When I’m out, my brain thinks only about how my body feels there and then. Sometimes though, runs do feel hard and podcasts serve as brilliant distractions in those situations — that’s as much the case for total beginners as it is for when you’re 18 miles into a marathon and about to hit that mental wall.  They’re something to zone into and just let yourself be carried by. Assuming it’s one you enjoy, I promise, the time just passes, the kms clock up, and the thoughts of “this feels so hard” ease off significantly. 

Another point for choosing podcasts over music is that they encourage you to run to your own pace and settle into a rhythm that feels comfortable, rather than trying to keep up with the beat of the music. Course, if you’re training for times or looking to beat your PB, you’re going to be mindful of pace, but for the rest of us who just run for headspace and enjoyment, pace doesn’t matter, and trying to speed up or slow down to run on the beat can make a run way less enjoyable than it should be. I do still listen to music sometimes, and if I’m feeling particularly energised or just want a fast and furious lap around the park, there’s nothing as freeing as bouncing through the streets listening to something really bass-heavy on my headphones. But I’ve found I have to be in the mood for that, and it’s more often than not only <5km runs I’ll listen to music now, unless I’m feeling particularly pumped!

Finally, listening to podcasts while running means killing two birds with one stone. A super efficient use of time! I usually cycle to work, never really take public transport, and we tend to listen to DJ mixes while we’re in the house, so I personally would never get chance to listen to the podcasts I love if it wasn’t for listening to them while running. It always makes me feel a turbo-charged level of productive when I’ve smashed out a run and got up to date on my podcasts! And if you find a podcast you love, you’re going actually look forward to your run just for the means of gobbling up another episode, so they’re also a good way to get you out the door!


MY FAVOURITE PODCASTS TO LISTEN TO RUNNING:

So that’s enough about why I rate listening to podcasts when running, now for the actual podcasts I rate. I personally like my podcasts to be entertaining, informative, maybe teach me more about something I’m interested in, or make me laugh. Now the only issue with funny podcasts and running is you can’t go too funny, or you’ll get too giggly and screw up your breathing, so I’d maybe save full-on comedy podcasts like My Dad Wrote A Porno for later! That said, I’m forever stopping to have mini giggle-fits listening to some of my recommendations below! I personally don’t favour motivational or self-improvement podcasts. I want to feel good about myself as I am, not constantly aiming to be a better and improved version of that — there are definitely enough platforms for that and I don’t need to come back from a run with a to-do list. I like to lose myself into insightful chats about current affairs (on an understandable level), hear interesting stories and scoops about people or brands I know, and celebrity guests are always good fun. With that in mind, here are my favourite podcasts I listen to on rotation when I’m running: 

THE HIGH LOW by Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes

I feel like The High Low is a bit like marmite and lots of people have contrasting opinions on it but I personally love it. I gobble up anything Dolly Alderton puts out there, and I just love the laughs with the two of them together. I find it wildly entertaining, I always get good book and TV recommendations from it, and I just find it very soothing to listen to while running. I like a podcast that disects current affairs in a relatively lighthearted way and raises different viewpoints. I listen to it religiously each week.

TABLE MANNERS by Jessie Ware

Jessie Ware is a goddess and I absolutely love Table Manners, which she does with her fabulous mum, Lennie. I feel like it’s really their very honest mother-daughter relationship that makes this podcast so special, but they also have a different celebrity guest round for dinner each week. I love it. I haven’t listened to them all but favourite episodes/ guests include Alan Carr, Nick Grimshaw, and Jo Brand.

HOW I BUILT THIS by Guy Raz

How I Built This is one of the first podcasts I ever discovered, I’ve listened to it for years. It’s got me through many long marathon training runs! The format is always the same: Guy Raz, the host, interviewing different founders about the brands they’ve built — going way back to how they started out, and addressing all the highs and lows of their journeys, some more dramatic than others. I tend to skip episodes for brands I’m not familiar with, but I love learning the backstory to brands I know and love. Favourite episodes I’d start with are: Dyson, Glossier, Lonely Planet, Airbnb and WholeFoods. 

HOSTEING by Laura Jackson

I think Laura Jackson is brilliant, with impeccable taste and always plenty of off-the-beaten-path recommendations. I love glimpsing into her life via her own Instagram as well as via HOSTE, the newsletter and Instagram feed she curates. Her podcast, HOSTEing sees her talking to different friends and fellow tastemakers, usually just having chatty convos about food, interiors and travel stories — everything I like! It’s a relatively new podcast and series one is pretty brief but my favourite episodes/ guests so far have been chef, Anna Jones and broadcaster, Stacey Dooley.

HOW TO FAIL with Elizabeth Day

How To Fail is my new favourite podcast and though I know it’s on a lot of people’s lists, I’ve only recently discovered it. I love Elizabeth Day’s voice and I find it really soothing listening, though I love it mainly for the fascinating insights you get into her guests’ lives. The format is always the same: a different guest each week shares three stories of failure, but you get all sorts of snippets about their careers, personal lives, and some laughs along the way. I’ve got lots of episodes to listen to still, but favourites so far have been Henry Holland and Fearne Cotton.

DESERT ISLAND DISCS

If you don’t want to totally let go of the music element of running, Desert Island Discs is perfect middle ground. One I’m sure everyone is familiar with, host Lauren Laverne (though it’s her predecessor, Kirsty Young who hosts a giant back catalogue of over 2000 episodes) interviews all sorts of celebrity guests about their lives and ultimately, the songs that have shaped them. I have so many classic episodes to listen to yet, but they’re great for running and also long drives and road-trips.

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