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At my peak over the past two years, I’ve been doing 10-15 miles of running per week, usually in 3-4 runs of 3.5-5 miles. Some resurgent knee grumpiness, combined with on-going disruptions to my schedule (moving, a month-long bout with a head-cold / the flu, non-stop wedding planning work), threw the whole system out of whack, and I’ve been lucky to maintain about 4-6 miles per week over the last month or so. I’ve spent my time the last two weeks sticking to the gym and working on bike routines (I get plenty of walking with the dog / trips to neighborhood stores), with fast 1 mile indoor runs as follow-ups. But today felt like a good day to shift back to the outdoor trails again. A very nice (and warm) easy 4 mile run, clocking in at around 36:00. And without further ado, here are the highlights from the mix today, in chronological order:

1) Fatboy Slim, “Bird of Prey”: I’ve never been a huge fan of Fatboy Slim (don’t dislike his music either, more ambivalent) but I’ve always loved this track. It’s a good choice for starting the run — a steady rhythm, just the right pace, with minimal vocals (but what vocals — c’mon, it’s Jim Morrison, what more can you ask for), and a soaring melody that invites you to loosen up and set a great pace.

2) Wolfmother, “Joker and the Thief”: I have a terrible confession to make here. Wolfmother is one of my recent “discoveries,” an artist that I had heard a good bit about over the last few years but never took the time to check out. When I stumbled across a used copy of his self-titled album at a charity sale this spring, I picked it up and popped it in for a listen…and realized that not only had I heard Wolfmother before (“Joker and the Thief” got good radio play around here), I also really, really liked his music. I love that this track is a metal-oriented riff on Dylan’s classic “All Along the Watchtower,” a bitter existentialist cry to offset Dylan’s cleverly sarcastic narrative. A great mid-run track to keep the pace going.

3) Danzig, “Thirteen”: This. Is. A. KILLER. Song! Starting with a low, slow, grim-reaper-esque rhythm, this track sets a pace that lets you back off a few seconds / mile and catch your breath while you listen to Glenn Danzig sing the lyrics in a tortured, malice-tinged groan.

4) Thea Gilmore, “As I Went Out One Morning”: I debated putting this on in the running mix initially, but it fit in well with the run today, so I’ll keep it in the rotation for awhile. I’ve been a fan of Gilmore’s cover of Dylan’s “John Wesley Harding” since I first heard it last year; it’s tough to tackle a project like that, reinterpreting a classic album by one of the most legendary figures in American music, but Gilmore manages it brilliantly. In this track, as the others, she adds a sweet-yet-luxurious feminine to Dylan’s song, giving it a touch of melancholy and nostalgia.

5) Florence and the Machine, “Shake It Out”: A perfect track for winding down the run and walking a few hundred yards to cool down.

Last but certainly not least, I want to give a shout-out to Podrunner, a free running / cardio-oriented podcast. The website (you can also subscribe via iTunes) is one of my more recent finds, and I’ve enjoyed their mixes immensely during my gym workouts. Each mix is about an hour long, and provides a steady (although never repetitive) beat; individual mixes range from about 135-180 bpm, so there’s something to fit every workout.