I’ve been running since I quit drinking. Well, thereabouts anyway. The whole being thinner thing is great, but it’s really the endorphin fix that keeps me doing it. Nope, never had a “runner’s high.” But I’m nice and chill for hours after a brisk six miler.
When I started, the biggest hurdle was enduring the pain. Cardio hurts. I thought it would always hurt. To my surprise though, somewhere around the fourth month, I realized I wasn’t going to die. I actually started to like my long communes with the outdoors. I got over that, too. Boredom set in.
I could handle the physical strain of the workout just fine; it was the psychological drudgery that became an issue.
I’d always liked listening to audiobooks on road trips. Before I started running, I walked. When I didn’t have an audiobook going in my headphones on those little hikes, I would bring a paperback along and read it en route. I probably looked like a complete weirdo. One woman told me she and her husband called me “the student.”
Needless to say tapes and CDs were cumbersome. The traditional audiobook delivery system wasn’t working. And changing out discs every 30 minutes gets real old real fast. Cut to my next birthday, when my wife (then fiance) bought me an iPod. All of a sudden, I had hours upon hours of audio gold in a little device the size of my wallet. But cost became an issue; 19 solid hours of audio doesn’t come cheap on iTunes. Of course I could rent audiobooks on CD at the library and convert them to MP3s. But that was kind of a hassle, and I’m not made of time either. Voila, I discovered the podcast. Similar narrative fix, for free, and tons of fresh content. Now, I just had to find some that adhered to my workout regimen.
NPR was a forerunner in the podcast game, as their shows came out with regularity, and the download format provided solid metrics to provide sponsors. It was probably This American Life that got the ball rolling. The show was engaging, and each episode was about an hour long, perfect for a decent run. I quickly went through the back catalog and found myself hungry for more. Eight years and counting, here’s what has sustained me, 30 plus miles a week, 300 or so days a year, ever since:
- The Adam Carolla Show — Refreshingly crass, and surprisingly insightful, this gem has been in my playlist since it debuted at No. 1 three years ago on iTunes. He can get a little repetitive, but he’s reliable. Always entertaining, and always a solid hour and a half.
- WTF with Marc Maron — This is only number two on my list because Maron only puts out two episodes a week. But that’s fine. I’m thankful for these revealing, intimate long-form interviews with comedians, and other entertainers who, until booking an hour in Maron’s now famous garage, may’ve not been able to tell their stories.
- The Nerdist — Great guests, and super funny hosts. This salute to all things nerd has some great publicists/bookers. Both Will Ferrel and Tom Hanks have given host and creator, Chris Hardwick an hour of their time, a claim few if any other podcasts can boast. And co-hosts Matt Myra and Jonah Ray are hilarious.
- Doug Loves Movies — In all honesty, it’s been a while since I listened to this once awesome podcast where in marijuana advocate Doug Benson stumbled through an hour onstage with his funny celebrity friends. It’s just lost its pizazz since leaving the now defunct UCB theater in Hollywood. But we’ll always have the back catalog.
- Mohr Stories — This one has only recently become a go-to. I was surprised to find Mohr’s heart-to-hearts, also taking place in his garage, were not only funny, they made me think. Mohr is much smarter than I gave him credit. Worth a run definitely.
A little sidenote: I didn’t include podcasts streaming less than two episodes a week. Had I, The Film Vault and This American Life would’ve certainly been mentioned.