Can you run yourself unhappy?

Ever wondered what the worst prep for running might look like?

Got to love a dopamine rush.

One of the reasons I like running so much is how you feel afterwards. A general sense of being uplifted, of satisfaction, maybe even of fulfilling some kind of purpose. During lockdown this has been even more important; to find an outlet during the doom and gloom. However, things are starting to look up with a successful vacccine roll-out. Maybe we’ll even see some proper racing in the second half of the year? None of that time trial nonsense that we’ve had to engage in.

But what did 2020 teach us? Things are never as rosy as they seem and disaster looms on the horizon. One should plan for all eventualities in the bleak chance that unholy promise is fulfilled. In that spirit, my “friends” came up with a challenge: can they ruin running for me?

They categorised a few areas to target:

  • Nutrition
  • Preparation
  • Accompanying music

Nutrition for me can take many forms. I don’t necessarily hold onto any specific routine before a race or a run, but lots of carbs is usually what I resort to. If anyone happens to have a bacon sandwich available, I won’t say no either! How could you ruin breakfast for someone like me? Well….


Running is all about having the right mindset. I truly believe that you can achieve whatever you set out to do as long as you approach any challenge in a positive way. I personally couple this with a general stubborness that’s gotten me through various running events over the years, even when under-trained. What could possibly ruin this?

Oh. That’ll do it.

At this point in time, I was actually looking forward to running. In fact, I was getting hungry again as the movie took so damn long! So I jumped on to my treadmill, eager to find some consolation in the unremitting misery that is life. Then the final bombshell struck me: possibly the most depressing running playlist ever curated.

“I’m so hollow” – Quote taken from James Blunt. I was so depressed, I didn’t ask his permission.

The playlist itself was tastefully put together, with four distinct sections. First off was a series of slow, mellow and melodic songs. Full of introspective gloom, I pondered the words “I wish that I could cry” by Five for Fighting and “Nothing Survives” from Azure Ray as I bounced along. It was at this point my friends joined me over a video call, mostly to make fun of me. I was treated to a view of cookies being consumed at an alarming rate, swilled down with a tasteful Sauvignon Blanc with “The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had” from Mad World echoing in my ears. Apparently the flavours matched very well.

The following songs were bleaker still, but there were some moments of brightness. To Build a Home by The Cinematic Orchestra was a slow burner, but ended in an uplifting way perfect for running. As a side note, what the hell happened to Sarah McLachlan?

I then listended to some surprising Alanis Morisette tunes in the second part. My teenage years resonate with the echoes of her empowering anger from a Jagged Little Pill. I don’t recall the thoughtful That I Would Be Good. Interesting, but not suitable for running! I was shocked out of my blues by a cracking James Blunt tune. I had to breathlessly croon “I’m so hollow” for a couple of minutes, which might have scared off my friends a bit. It’s right to draw out at this point that the saddest version of each song was selected. Only songs with maximum violins and preferably acoustic were acceptable. We then came to Say Something by A Great Big World. If anything was going to make me cry, it would have been this song and it was followed by a swift right hook as the third section began with Dry Your Eyes by the Streets. Thankfully I wasn’t terribly affected: it was just sweat from my brow making my eyes water. Honest.

It became clear that everything had been leading up to this point. One song after another packed a wallop. Brick by Ben Folds, Before You Start Your Day by Twenty One Pilots and another three Sarah McLachlan songs! Numb from the pain, I started to flag. To give time to listen to all these sad songs, I’d chosen a relatively long run (at least for me at the moment) – a 19.2km Long Fartlek session on Zwift. While I only had a few kms to go, it was getting tough. Especially with just a few weetabix biscuits in my stomach. Thankfully I was saved by the music. I belted out the lyrics from Hurt by Johnny Cash and Crawling by Linkin Park. Even though both songs were in themselves expressions of intense pain and suffering, “I would keep myself, I would find a way” echoed in my mind.

Suddenly the clouds cleared (yes I know, I’m indoors) and I could see the finish line. The remainings songs were all soulfully contemplative, matching my sad but triumphant mood. The 19.2km finally drew to a conclusion with Enya’s May It Be providing the final notes. I still had some songs left but I’d had enough. I couldn’t run anymore. However, this wasn’t due to the playlist, which I’d perversely enjoyed.

I stopped running as treadmill running sucks. The end.

The view on my treadmill

Author: Jamie Jones

I kind of like running. Sometimes. I definitely like gaming!

One thought on “Can you run yourself unhappy?”

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