Unless you’re one of those superhumans who can knock out a 10-miler with nothing but nature’s sing-song melody for company, your weekly runs (especially the long-distance types) probably go hand-in-hand with a specially curated music playlist. But soon enough, that deep-bass electronica just doesn’t get you as pumped for your workout as it did a few short weeks prior. And let’s face it, there’s a limit to the amount of Cardi B your ears can safely consume.
Enter podcasts. Nothing serves as a better brain distraction than an enthralling story, and we’re here to list out some of the best shows out there so you can get through your grueling runs before you know it….and perhaps gain some extra knowledge to boot! Now, in my experience, when it comes to podcasts, people generally fall into three categories: 1. those who already know and appreciate the wonder of podcasting, 2. those who don’t understand the appeal of listening to a radio show that any schlub off the street can decide to create, and 3. those who have no idea what podcasts are at all. Luckily, this post is for all three! Those of you in the first category can peruse some potential new shows that maybe you’ve never heard of. Those in the second will discover that the entire appeal of podcasts is that everyone can find something that tickles their fancy. Not every show is a monotone retelling of current events snooze-fest. There are podcasts out there for every interest: fairy tales, science fiction, true crime, sports, comedy—and this is just the tip of the iceberg! For our friends in the third category living under a rock, behold the following list and prepare to start looking forward to your long commutes and extended workouts:
Is the reason you need to go on such long runs because you’re a devout foodie? If so, Special Sauce may be the deep-dive into the secrets of the culinary community you’ve been waiting for! Host, Serious Eats founder, and food-writer extraordinaire, Ed Levine, interviews chefs and other food biz know-it-alls to deliver amazing cuisine-related stories straight through your headphones.
More of a fiction person? I get it—sometimes a little escapism is just what the doctor ordered. Tales features retellings of all of the famous fairy tales, fables, and folk stories you grew up with. Fair warning, though: these are not the kid-glove versions you may know and love, but rather tend to be quite dark (those authors of days past had tough lives—we’ll cut them some slack). For example, I bet you don’t remember the story of Thumbelina being about a tiny girl having to fend off a menagerie of creepy animals who try to steal her and force her into wifedom. Not to worry—the insanely soothing voice of narrator Vanessa Richardson more than makes up for the tarnishing of precious childhood memories.
I will preface this by saying that true crime is not everyone’s cup of tea….and true crime comedy even less so. But I promise it’s not as crass as it sounds. Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff have built an incredible following of “murderinos” who tune in twice weekly to hear their NSFW stories of infamous murders (or miraculous survivals) you’ve definitely heard of, as well as those that fell through the publicity cracks. At its core, it’s a show that encourages safety and empowerment in the hopes that smart choices lead to one less potential victim. And not to instill too much paranoia, but I don’t think it’s ever a bad idea for solo city runners (like myself!) to keep murder-prevention advice at the forefront of their mind. It’s a crazy world out there, ya’ll!
*If you like true crime, but prefer it be delivered in a more serious (and less profanity-laced) manner, Criminal and Serial are the investigative reporter-style podcasts you’re looking for. Or try Dirty John and Dr. Death for especially intriguing cases involving some pretty awful swindler-types.
I know, I know—this is the most cliché, most oft-referenced podcast that lies in wait in the back pockets of haughty “cultured” types relishing the opportunity to namedrop it in their coffeehouse conversations. But hey, it’s legit. Each week, a handful of different stories (true and fictional alike) from various contributors are told, revolving around a unifying theme. For example, in an episode of “sink or swim” situations, stories include a very literal anecdote of a little girl being thrown in a pool by her father to learn how to swim, a non-criminal attorney handling his very first criminal case, and innovative interrogation tactics used in World War II. With such eclectic fare, you’re bound to finish your run having learned something new….And surely, if your brain is stimulated during your workouts, you burn more calories. That’s called science.
This is by no means an exhaustive list—the sheer amount of podcasts out there is mind-boggling. But once you find your preferred shows, you’ll be looking forward to those long runs for a chance to get some episodes in! And with an Armpocket, it couldn’t be easier to listen. The touch-thru window allows you to easily play, pause, rewind, or speed up your podcast, all without even breaking stride! Give it a shot on your next run and thank me later.