There have been plenty of times when I've been on a long run and the mental endurance has just been a total drag. If you're not running with a buddy or you don't have some catchy tunes in your 'buds then it can be really hard to stay focused and push through the run. While I love a good playlist, I also find a longer narrative is a great option for a long Saturday morning run. It holds my attention longer and just listening to conversations makes it much easier to maintain cadence as opposed to listening to music where it's so tempting to run in time to the tunes.
So where to start? Here are my top 10 picks!
1) Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
Ahhh my favorite! Nothing makes me happier than current news mixed with humor. Many people will recognize this from the weekly airing on NPR ("the NPR news quiz!"), but it's so worth listening to the entire episode every week. These 50 minute podcasts will literally make me LOL on my runs - what better way to forget you're out of breath from running when you're out of breath from laughing?!
WTF (yeah, it stands for what you think it does; don't listen to it around the kiddos if you're sensitive to f-bombs) podcast with Marc Maron is one of the first podcasts I started listening to independently from my fiancé. McCrae is a total podcast and comedy nerd and I have spent a frightening amount of time listening to podcasts just hanging around him, but this was the first one where I started listening to episodes on my own. Maron is a hilarious comedian (I was ROFL at his segment of the Oddball comedy fest two years ago) and I adore his TV show, and his podcasts are just really solid. Maron doesn't try too hard to be funny and he doesn't try to get too serious with his interviews; his episodes are just him and some other famous person hanging out in Maron's garage in LA and talking. These are the kinds of conversations that you want to be a fly on the wall for, from a chat with President Barack Obama to how Cameron Esposito came out to her family to a pretty intense discussion with Robin Williams on alcoholism and suicide. Maron might ramble on in some intro rants, so if you want to cut straight to the great interviews just skip forward several minutes into the podcast and then start your run. (I happen to like his rambling though, but that's just me).
While I scoff at most people who call themselves "nerds" nowadays (come on, you're not a real nerd unless you actually watched Star Trek as a kid and you dressed up as Leia for the first Star Wars film release - AND you wore your outfit to school so all the other kids could laugh at you! - and if you really earned your "nerd" level with a full sweep of top grades in every class every year. Stop it, posers), but I've got to admit, of all self-proclaimed "nerds" Chris Hardwick is pretty legit. Hardwick goes all Dungeons & Dragons and The Walking Dead and real science geek on his podcast Nerdist (including four appearances of Neil deGrasse Tyson!). If you fancy yourself a nerd, you'll love this podcast.
4) This American Life
When I was chatting with some running buddies about favorite podcasts this is one of the podcasts that came up quickly and with enthusiasm. We all agreed that the stories just suck you in and before you know it the miles are done.
5) Dear Sugar
Yep, I'm a sucker for this one. I mean, who doesn't want to be all smart and know about the best TED talks without the trouble of researching them yourself?! Duh.
7) Comedy Bang! Bang!
Oh my gosh I've probably listened to this podcast more than is healthy. Not because I necessarily volunteer for it, but because McCrae listens to it ALL THE DANG TIME. To be fair, if you're into comedy, or even if you want some quirky laughs on your run, it's a good podcast. Just don't expect it to be anything normal, but if you're into comedy and pop culture then their guest list will thrill you.
Want to torture yourself thinking about food on your long run? Fantasize about all those delicious greasy calories you're totally going to down at the end of the morning? Want a laugh or two while you're at it? Then yeah, Doughboys is for you! Based on the premise of reviewing chain restaurants, the two co-hosts will have your sides in stitches for all the good reasons.
9) The Bill Simmons Podcast
One of the oldest and best renown sports podcasters, Bill Simmons is a giant in sports podcasting. If you need to catch up on the latest news on football, basketball, or other mainstream sports then this is the place for you, as long as you can forgive his occasional loving bias for Boston teams.
10) Men in Blazers
Hosts Michael Davies and Roger ("Rog") Bennet are the greatest soccer (podcasting) talent to come out of England in...well, all of history. With their non-stop punchlines and unique perspectives on the "American sport of the future since 1972" you can easily catch up on all the soccer news on and off the field without the dullness of reading sports articles. I'd say you could listen to them for their sweet accents alone, but their podcast is really fantastic, Game of Thrones references and all. (Plus they love women's soccer!!)
These are my favorite picks when I'm prepping my playlist for a long run. Do you have any favorite podcasts you like listening to on a run? Let me know in the comments!