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What to Listen To – Running, Working, and Lounging Music

I think it is safe to say that it is the time of the year that you cannot complain about Christmas music. We are a mere eleven days away, have had a few snowfalls, and downtowns are being lined with lights, glowing snowflakes, and Christmas trees that could make the Grinch snarl. And with the radio being taken over more and more by songs of Rudolph and his nose-so-bright and our family dinners being prepared and enjoyed to the tunes of Zooey Deschanel, it got me thinking about what do I listen to throughout the year? So I pushed back the tinsel covered curtain, dimmed the red and green blinking lights, and put together this little piece of genre recommendations for when you lace up your running shoes, buckle down on that next work project, or are preparing a dinner party for your family this holiday season.

While you work: Lord of the Rings Soundtrack and Beethoven Playlist

Alright, so if you stumbled upon this website you know that we are a running company and thus tend to be a bit nerdy. In college, my triathlon team had so many engineers on it that we had a special micro group Non-Engineer Triathletes of Ohio State (or NETOS for short) because of the plethora of nerds. Don’t get me wrong, I love everything about nerd culture as the conversations tend to be awesome, the training talk more scientific, and the atmosphere accepting.

The reason the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) Soundtrack or a Beethoven Playlist is so great while you work is because there is no single aspect you need to pay attention to. They tend to provide more of an emotional get-sh*t-done atmosphere without distracting you with words or lyrics. In the case of LOTR playlists, you tend to hear other music options from movies like Braveheart, Star Wars and Celtic songs, that are just as soothing to the ears. They are usually up-beat with strong instrumentals but not in a distracting way. They set a tone for the work environment. This may not be for everyone but give it a go next time you have a project on your hands and need to get your mind in the right place.


While you lounge, cook, or entertain: Zooey Deschanel, She & Him, and Vitamin String Quartet

This was the thought that prompted this entire post. While at home preparing dinner, decorating the Christmas tree, reading at the end of the day, or while catching up with friends, these are my favorites. So much so that I had the Vitamin String Quartet as the dinner music at my wedding. And the reason for this is simple, everyone will love them! Zooey Deschanel – the ‘She’ of the band ‘She & Him’- has a distinct and amazing voice and will sing classic Christmas songs so you get to hear the all-time favorites mixed with the talent of a modern singer. As for Vitamin String Quartet, you get to hear popular chart-toppers but in a style that is made for the dinner party. Who wouldn’t want to hear ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ played only by a string quartet without the lyrics? No, seriously, it is a truly fun experience to hear the melody and then guess which popular song it is.

We’ll wrap up this section with a final note on She & Him- if you are looking for a relaxing but enjoyable soundtrack for your holiday party then give them a try. You’ll get the holiday vibe without alienating any age demographic.

she and him holiday

While you run: Stuff You Should Know and RadioLab

To continue the nerd theme from earlier, I like to do things a bit differently when I go for a run. Over time I have ditched the rock playlist in exchange for spoken word. This doesn’t apply to speed-training days or if you have a running buddy with you but if you are pounding pavement alone, give podcasts a go. Podcasts can be found on literally any topic with my preference leaning towards science, history, and fascinating stories.

My first recommendation is Stuff You Should Know which brings together two regular guys who enjoy science and history but are in no way scientists themselves. Every episode has a new, random topic that they research separately before coming together to talk about everything they learned. They site their sources, add their skepticism, and go off on tangents that you might love or hate. I have been listening to them for the past 8 or more years so their off-topic conversations tend to make me laugh more than annoy. They do however hate running so it is always fun listening to their ‘How Marathons Work’ episode. It’s like listening to your own friend or co-worker who just doesn’t get running.

The next recommendation is RadioLab. This is a much more in-depth and scientifically vetted podcast that brings in leading researchers, historians, public figure, and more as the hosts take on some fascinating topics. I find myself still thinking back to their early episodes on Zoos, Sleep, and Stress as they dive into these ideas and tell stories you have likely never heard that will keep you thinking about it for years.

And that’s that. All of these can be found on Spotify, Pandora, and wherever you get your podcasts. A few tunes, artists, and podcasts that could occupy the next few months of your running and dinner partying. I know these won’t be for everybody, but they are tried and true staples for me and my family.