Running with the Devil
On my morning run today, I needed some inspiration. I needed something new to kick-start my pace and keep my brain from focusing on the heavy sound of my breathing. Normally, I listen to podcasts when I run. On race days I like to listen to the Hood Internet. But as I crawled out of bed this morning, threw on my gear and dragged myself through warm ups, I knew that I needed to shake off the cobwebs and go old school. I needed Heavy Metal.
If my hundreds of 80s metal cassettes could be magically traded in for iTunes credits, this would have been an easy fix. Unfortunately, I was a half-mile away from home and had an iPhone preloaded with my usual fare: mid-pace indie rock, kids songs, voice notes. On a whim, I fired up the Spotify app, remembering that it now includes Radio Streaming. It’s set up very similar to Pandora Radio, where you select an artist, song or genre and it pre-populates a playlist from its broad catalog. Not wanting to delay my run, I tapped “Heavy Metal” from the list and braced myself. Was it going to be a glam metal throw-away like Bang Tango? A nu-rock sludge fest like Korn? To my endless gratitude it started the radio stream with “Youth Gone Wild” by Skid Row. Now, Skid Row gets lumped in with the glam metal bands, and they certainly had some hairspray moments; but this band could also be very metal (see Slave to the Grind). The pace was good to warm up, it reminded me of those feel-good pre-teen metal years and I was off.
The big problem with these streaming radio apps is that they try to interject variety in pacing, much like traditional radio. Two fast songs, followed by one slow and then one mid-pace, repeat. Metal is a genre where I don’t want to hear any ballads – I don’t care if Dio is singing them, they’re still not good for my strides. Metal is also prone to songs that start with melodic, slower intros that (eventually) turn into thrashers. The second song was one of those. I held on through the ups and downs of acoustic arpeggios and was rewarded with some decent pounding before song’s end. The third song, however, is where things got interesting.
Do you want a tip for a great running song? “Painkiller” by Judas Priest. Whoa, nelly. I had to reign myself in. How about “Number of the Beast” by Iron Maiden? Yes, please – may I have another? Overall, the playlist Spotify put together was great. There was some variety in pace; but no full-on ballads or DragonForce bombast. Mostly classic, solid tempo metal. You can “thumbs up” or down on tracks similar to Pandora. Hopefully that will weed out slower tracks or pace-match with additional usage.
Along with Runkeeper, Spotify used about 33% of battery for a 5K run on an iPhone 3GS. The signal was good with tree-lined streets over 3G connection and I had no buffering or pauses.