French Bloke Runs

Shut up and run!

Tag: Music

Sonic the freak

It’s been a long time since my last rant but I know you love’em, so here’s a freebie that I’m sure you’ll enjoy. How effing freakish is Sonic the Hedgehog? When I was younger, I owned (and I still own) a Sega Mega Drive II (Genesis II for the odd Yank reading this) with all the Sonic games, including Sonic & Knuckles on which you could stack other cartridges to unlock new games. At the time, the blue mascot was seen as a serious competitor to Super Mario – in hindsight it is laughable – and I have to admit that I was a real fan. Now I can see how it was all a scam.

First of all, hedgehogs are not blue and they certainly don’t wear shoes. I’ll put that on the account of artistic licence, but it’s unrealistic. At least, he wears red shoes and that’s what counts (remember?) although I’ve never seen running shoes with buckles rather than laces (that too is ridiculously unrealistic).

Secondly, in real life hedgehogs are ludicrously shy. I recently had to feed my neighbour’s pet hedgehog for 2 weeks so I have prime experience with that. As soon as I approached it, it shivered like crazy! Now you’re telling me this little guy can run through the world and kill robots without being terrified? I don’t buy it for a second.

Then there’s the question of the running specialty. Sonic can sprint for pretty much the whole game without a drop of sweat. Seriously? Either you’re a sprinter or you’re a long distance runner, well you could also be a mid-distance runner, but you certainly cannot sprint for several hours straight! I know that elite marathoners run 42.195 km at a faster pace than I sprint on 100m. But neither Usain Bolt nor Dennis Kimetto could run this distance at 1:40 minutes per km!

You’ll argue that Sonic has super powers and that he cheats with springs and other ingenious pieces of apparatus, but I find this dubious at best. No ones actually goes faster with Kangoo Jumps than with real shoes, they are just another risible fad of the 90s. And I don’t believe anyone can claim that spring-loaded shoes like the Enko or the Adidas Springblade can double your speed, that would be preposterous.

Nonetheless, despite all the bad-mouthing I just gave him, Sonic will always remain the best in my heart. How could it be any other way when you listen to the awesome music composed by Masato Nakamura?

Gear: the useful and the useless

After almost a year of running and quite a bit of money spent in various gear and gadgets, I now have a well formed opinion on what is useful and what is useless.

Running top

An absolute essential. Don’t run long distances with cotton t-shirts, definitely buy tops made of a technical fabric such as blends of polyester and elastane. My favourites are the ones from Tribesports (I have no commercial agreement with them, they’re just really good). If cotton is absolutely prohibited, I also recommend against running with the t-shirts given at races because they’re usually very loose. Don’t follow this advice and you’ll risk nipple chafing, you’ll be warned: Jack of all trades learned it the hard way in the Bordeaux half-marathon.

Running bottom

Arguably, it’s not as important to have good running shorts as it is to have good tops but it’s so much better to run with very light shorts and I think they’re worth the extra quid. Then again, cotton will provoke chafing inside your thighs, so avoid at all costs.

On cold winter days,  tights or leggings are really appreciated but I found that even the cheapest ones were good enough.

Socks

Don’t waste your money there. Pricy technical socks are utterly useless. I can’t see the difference between my £2 pair of low-cut Decathlon running socks and my £15 pair of double-walled, padded pair of Mizuno running socks. If you want to avoid blisters and black nails, the solution is in the shoes, not in the socks.

Accessories

I haven’t tried all the accessories yet but I think most of them are useless (ok, maybe a water bottle is a good thing to have during a long run or a trail). The one accessory I bring to all my races is a wrist sweatband to wipe off my forehead and avoid sweat dripping in my eyes.

I don’t have an opinion on compression gear yet. It might be useful, but to recover and avoid muscle pain, I think nothing beats a long session of stretching after running.

Gadgets

Then again, I’m a big fan of gadgets but I have to admit that most of them aren’t really useful. I would say that the watch is the only one that will help improve your running and at a beginner level like mine, it’s mostly about the timer and the pace: the value of a heart-rate monitor is debatable at best. But I think runners definitely don’t need a phone or an mp3 player. Some will argue that if you need music to run, it’s because you don’t like running.

Shoes

I’ll finish with the most important piece of gear: the shoes! Of course they’re useful, it is essential to have shoes that fit you and your running style – as you know I’m a strong advocate of minimalistic shoes and barefoot-style running. My piece of advice is to always buy one size above your real size, it will save you from blisters and black toenails, especially if you have a Greek foot or a Celtic foot like me.

Now, I want to make the case that shoes are actually useless, and I’m slowly making the transition to barefoot running (I’ve tested some pretty minimal stuff already). Hopefully in a few months or years, I’ll be able to race barefoot!

Tired shoes

Tired shoes or why it is important to buy new shoes before they reach 800 km

A playlist to run fast and well

A while ago, I recommended that you change your running form. A good way of improving your running form is to try and have a faster cadence. If you run between 180 and 200 steps per minute, this will naturally force you to shorten your stride and to land on the middle of the foot rather than on the heel. And that’s already half the job done.

Listening to music at the right tempo will help you doing just that. Spotify used to have a bunch of playlists for running at a desired cadence but the maximum was 170 spm. Now the app detects the tempo to adapt the music to your running, but that doesn’t really help forcing your running to a new cadence.

So, I have the solution for you! I have created a playlist of 100 songs between 190 and 200 bpm, sometimes 95 to 100 bpm but you know how multiply by 2 don’t you? There is a lot of British and American music of course, but there’s also some French music (how surprising) that you’re allowed to skip, as well as music from Argentina, Serbia, Italy, Iceland, Sweden, Algeria, Spain, Ireland and I’m probably missing a few countries.

Some of it is weird, cheesy or noisy, but don’t worry, this is mostly decent music (and a few shit songs because I wanted to reach exactly 100). Anyway, this is not a playlist for listening idly in your couch, it’s a playlist for running, so listen in shuffle mode and enjoy!

Here are the links to:

Headphones

Headphones – Photo by Javierosh

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