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SALT LAKE CITY — For me, the best long runs are those done with friends who can talk my ear off while I huff and puff down the road. I cherish the friends with storytelling skills who can transport me from thinking about my own pain. Those friends are worth their weight in gold.
Unfortunately, schedules don’t always coincide, so I often find myself on the long road alone.
Sometimes I just like to listen to the wind whistle through the trees. Sometimes the peaceful morning stillness is what I crave. But when I need to escape my thoughts, I often turn to podcasts.
You can find podcasts on just about any topic. With just a click of the mouse, you can download conversations about auto repair, golf, parenting, even your favorite comedian. Here are a few podcasts that have helped me during my long runs, short runs and in between runs. Most are running podcasts. All are great and, best of all, free.
"Two Gomers Run a Marathon"
The name says it all. This podcast is only for those with a sense of humor. Two self-proclaimed regular guys, Steven and Anthony, document their running odyssey from beginning to present. The first season focuses on the Gomers as they prepare to run their first half marathon. Listeners are taken through their journey from the very first three-mile run to their first full marathon. They are such running novices at the beginning of this series that one Gomer even runs in khaki shorts.
Their adventures are hilarious, honest and often inspiring. Their discussions aren’t limited to running. In fact, some episodes find running on the back burner as they discuss their favorite television shows, movies, tech gear or whatever is on their mind. Entertaining would be an understatement.
Named after Phedippides, "Phedippidations" is a conversation for and about runners. Steve Runner is the host and the godfather of running podcasts. He’s been at this for years. A self-proclaimed middle-aged mid- pack runner, he takes us through every conceivable running topic and a few you never knew were possible. A highlight for me are his Boston episodes.
Since he is a Boston native, he offers an in-depth view of the Boston marathon. His podcast is well-produced and easy on the ears. Some might find his later episodes a little harder to relate to as he infuses his passions for wine and philosophy, but I find these episodes to be a fresh take on an old topic.
"Two Gomers Run a Marathon" "Phedippidations"Running With the Pack" "Another Mother Runner" "This American Life"
"Running With the Pack"Stevie and Allen head up this podcast. I love the banter between the two. What I love even more is the fact that they don’t limit themselves to running talk. They talk about triathlons, fitness classes and anything fitness related. Their tag line is “Get Your Body Moving and Feel Like a Champion.” At the end of each episode, they highlight calls from runners giving short race reports. This is the kind of podcast I save for my long runs — it’s that good.
"Another Mother Runner"
Again, the name says it all. Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea are the hosts of this podcast as well as the authors of “Run Like a Mother” and “Train Like a Mother.” They are also frequent contributors to “Runners World” magazine. Their podcasts focus not just on moms who run, but women who run. Guys may also find this podcast a fun listen, but fair warning. There are some girl-specific topics that may make some of the males a little squeamish. McDowell and Shea offer experienced advice as well as encouragement to get women out on the road.
"This American Life"
This isn't a running podcast but definitely one I save for my long runs. Each week, Ira Glass picks a topic pertaining to American life, as the title implies, and selects a few stories that highlight each topic. Contributors like authors Sarah Vowell and David Sedaris will keep you coming back week after week. Topics range from the aftermath of a bad breakup to the obstacles returning soldiers face once they return home from active duty.
One of their most popular episodes is “The Giant Pool of Money,” which discusses the origins of the housing crisis in a clear, easy to understand way. The subjects are as diverse as the listeners. Informative, thought provoking, thorough and often emotional, you will be entertained and educated all at once.
The next time you’re out for a run, and even when you’re not, give one of these podcasts a listen. Go to iTunes or search the Web and find thousands of hours of entertainment. You might find yourself looking forward to those long runs even more.
Kim Cowart is a wife, mother, 24-Hour Fitness instructor and marathoner whose iPod has more podcasts than music. Read more of her work on the Deseret News blog, Reasons to Run.