TrailMix Review – A step-synced music player iPhone app

TrailMix Review

TrailMix is a ”fully automatic step-synced music player”. What the heck is that, you ask? Good question. Let me see if I can explain it simpler terms.

TrailMix is an iPhone app for listening to music while walking or running that detects your pace using the iPhone’s built-in accelerometer, and rapidly adjusts the tempo of the song to match your stride. So, basically, it speeds up or slows down songs to always be in sync with your steps. Run faster and the track goes faster. Slow down and the track slows down. You get the idea.

It’s actually pretty clever. And while the music does sound a bit strange going faster or slower than what you’re used to, TrailMix doesn’t change the pitch, so you never get that effect of listening to Alvin and the Chipmunks singing Daft Punk.

Remember a while ago when we went through a process of adding beats-per-minute (BPM) info to our iTunes library? We tried an automatic way and a manual way. Well, with TrailMix you don’t need that anymore. The developers figured out a way to “listen” to the songs and get the BPM as they play without the need for any fancy stuff. Not even an Internet connection.

From the developers:

The app will play and sync with any song in a user’s library, as well as playlists containing up to 20 songs, whether the listener is running, walking, sprinting, or strolling. TrailMix incorporates a pedometer, and health- and fitness-related rewards from Kiip, an online service that motivates users to exercise by giving away free items and coupons. A Pro version of TrailMix, available separately for $4.99, removes banner ads and includes enhanced features like Magic Shuffle, which chooses songs automatically to match your current tempo, and Cruise Control to lock in a song at a preset beat. The Pro app also provides enhanced stats and an intelligent stopwatch that starts and stops as the user moves to keep track of workout sessions automatically.

I only tried the Pro version, so no idea if the ads are annoying. But honestly, for $5 just get the full version. No ads is a beautiful thing, and that Cruise Control feature is awesome. You basically set a BPM before you start to run and TrailMix magically makes every song fit that tempo. Most of the playlists I’ve been sharing here are based on BPM. No need to spend hours finding the right songs anymore!

I wrote a separate review of TrailMix Pro in another of my sites if you’re interested in more. I liked it.

100 Workout Songs for Your iPod | RecipeGirl.com

Lori Lange from RecipeGirl.com shares her choice of 100 workout songs. She says:

You may or may not have my taste in music.  I like quite the variety.  I’m an 80?s band- freak so there’s a little of that in there.  I have a 10 year old, so there are a few current hits that I happen to enjoy.  And I’ve always loved The Offspring and the alternative, hard-core fast beat of most of their songs.

It is an eclectic mix of songs. Pretty cool.

Running in Silence | Static Made

Jeffrey Inscho of Static Made making a case for running in silence:

While the music, tech musings and automated metrics kept my mind from focussing on the discomfort my body was feeling, I also discovered that this constant connectivity (even while in the middle of the woods on a trail run) was keeping my mind from appreciating my surroundings in those moments, following an exploratory train-of-thought around professional ideas and concepts, or simply experiencing the silence and patterns in my breath.

As much as I love running with music, Jeffrey has a great point here. The times I’ve ran without music, my mind has been free to wander and contemplate. I’ve often had great ideas while running without music. These days I tend to do my weekly long run without music.

October is Country Music Month

I didn’t know this, but October is Country Music Month and it’s apparently official.

The story says that the Country Music Association designated October as Country Music Month in 1964, and it was made official by Presidential proclamation beginning in 1970.

I have to admit I’ve never ran to country music. Although I’m not a huge fan, I do have a few country songs in my iTunes Library that I enjoy. I may create a country music running playlist this week and give it a go. Of course, I’ll post the playlist and my thoughts as usual.

Meanwhile, if you’re a fan of country music and want to support Jogger Tunes, click on the banner below and check out what’s new and noteworthy in iTunes. If you buy anything, I’ll get a few cents per song and it won’t cost you anything extra.

Here’s what you’ll find:

Leading up to the CMA Awards in early November, Country Music Month on iTunes will feature the hottest new releases from Lady Antebellum, Scotty McCreery, Lauren Alaina, Martina McBride and Rodney Atkins. In addition, classic country, country music videos and iTunes original content from Taylor Swift, Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley and more will be featured in the Country Music Month room.

iTunes, App Store, iBookstore, and Mac App Store

I hope you find something worthwhile and my sincere thanks if you do!

Great running music: My top running tracks on CD and MP3

Running to music is great. It pumps me up, gives me energy and keeps me positive while I exercise. It also helps me keep a good pace. But more importantly, every time I go out for a run listening to my top playlists I somehow run faster and don’t feel as tired as I do when my favourite songs are playing full blast on my iPhone.

That’s the reason I started this site. I enjoy it so much that I want to share the best music for running I’ve found. Today I want to share a few of my favourite CDs for jogging.

Here are a few notes on each. I may write a full review of each of them later, but for now just a short note:

1. 101 Running Songs is a collection of 5 CDs. The songs are good although a little old, so if you like recent music only this one may not be for you. I do like it quite a bit though. It has music by Queen, Pink, Fatboy Slim, Billy Idol, Christina Aguilera, Coldplay, Wham and many others. I wrote a short review of the first CD a few months ago. 5 Stars.

2. 101 Running Songs Lap 2 is the sequel to the above and also a 5 disc set. This one is more modern featuring music by Black Eyed Peas, Justin Timberlake, Blur, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Katy Perry, Alycia Keys, etc. mixed up with oldies by Judas Priest, Deep Purple, Duran Duran, Blondie, Erasure and Run DMC. I normally wouldn’t listen to some of these, but the combination is pretty good and all tracks are awesome for running. A little variety is great. This one is one of my favourites. 5 Stars.

3. Exercizer Maximizer Vol. 1 & 2 is a 2 disc set and it’s based on running at specific beats per minute. The tag line is “Workout Music Engineered To Get You Results” and it sure does. It has warm up and warm down tracks. The music was written specifically to work out by composer Raney Shockne. It’s not normal songs by known artists. It’s like having your own coach with you. However, the pace gets pretty high so it’s more geared towards regular runners that can already sustain a good pace. Skip it if you’re just starting out. 5 Stars.

4. The Biggest Loser Workout Mix – 80s Hits Remixed is as simple as it gets. Twelve up beat songs from the 80′s including Sussudio, Electric Avenue, Let’s hear it for the boy, Magic, and others. This one is a love it or hate it disc. Check out the song list and you’ll know if it’s for you. 3 Stars.

5. Bodymix: Sixties Cardio is good once in a while. The songs aren’t by the original artists (at least I don’t think so) and I wouldn’t listen to it when not running, but for a jog they’re good. I get this with some songs, don’t like them when I listen to them but like them while running. They have a good rhythm. 3 Stars.

So there you have it. If you’re looking for running music but don’t want to spend the time creating custom playlists these might be exactly what you want.

AC/DC running playlist – 60 minutes

I’m a big fan of AC/DC, so this week I thought I’d create a few running playlists with their music.

This is the first one I ran to and it was amazing.

I specifically picked songs that have a similar rhythm. They’re all relatively slow paced (for running) at around 125 beats per minute (BPM) for those interested in that. I thought it was going to be an easy run and I had planned to run to the beat.

However, as it turned out I got into it and just let go. AC/DC’s music is so energetic that I ran faster than I thought I would. Way faster.

And it’s not just the music, the lyrics also pumped me up.

Hearing the guys sing “T.N.T. I’m dynamite, T.N.T. and I’ll win the fight” 50 minutes into a run, when you’re getting tired, really gives you a burst of new energy. It’s great. I kicked up the pace with this song and finished 10 kilometres in under an hour even though it was supposed to be an easy run.

The playlist starts with the slower pace ones at around 120 BPM, then builds up to 130 BPM and slows down again towards the end.

The Playlist:

Song Album BPM
Rock ‘n Roll Train Black Ice 118
Touch Too Much Highway to Hell 123
Have A Drink On Me Back In Black 124
What Do You Do For Money Honey Back In Black 126
You Shook Me All Night Long Back In Black 128
Givin’ The Dog A Bone Back In Black 131
War Machine Black Ice 129
There’s Gonna Be Some Rockin’ Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap 128
Jailbreak Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap 130
Rocking All The Way Black Ice 126
Big Jack Black Ice 127
Spoilin’ for a Fight Black Ice 125
Ain’t No Fun (Waiting Round To Be A Millionaire) Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap 124
T.N.T. High Voltage 125
Anything Goes Black Ice 120

Unfortunately, you can’t get the songs in digital format through either iTunes or Amazon.

The Australian band members have said they won’t sell their music through iTunes because they want people to buy the full album, not just individual songs. I do think people should listen to AC/DC that way for the most part, but it seems silly to me to stay out of iTunes.

So, unless you’re an AC/DC fan like me and already have a bunch of their music, the only way to make a playlist is to purchase full albums in CD. You can get these in Amazon, but only physical CD’s and not digital downloads.

Lesson learned:

As I said, AC/DC turned out to be amazing for running. Energetic music with great rhythm and powerful lyrics. I don’t think you can go wrong with AC/DC.

Rating:

I give it a 5 out of 5.

My favourite playlist so far.

Running with music. Good and Bad.

Ryan from funrunningryan.com wrote an article explaining why he doesn’t like running with music. It’s an interesting read and his reasons are valid. Even if I don’t agree with them personally, I can understand his thinking.

The basic issues he has with running with music using his iPod are:

  1. Hassle of carrying an iPod
  2. Headphones not staying put.
  3. Finding the right music.
  4. Running to the tempo of the music.

As I said, all valid points. Let’s look at them one by one.

First, the hassle of carrying an iPod. He was using the older, heavier iPod Video, so I can see how that would’ve been annoying. Ryan also mentions songs tended to skip sometimes, which suggests the mechanical drive was moving, which is not a good thing. The new iPod shuffle or iPod nano would solve both issues as they’re small and lightweight, and use flash drives that have no moving pieces. I actually run with my iPhone, which also has a flash drive, and have never felt it was too heavy or bulky. And has never skipped a beat.

Second, the headphones not staying put. This is one I struggled with myself for a while when I was using the standard white ones that come with the iPhone. I also had the issue of them getting soaked in sweat. I did some research and found several options. Most people recommended a Sennheiser PMX 680, but it’s almost US$50, so I looked at the Sony Mdr-As20J and the Philips SHQ1000/28. I eventually bought the Phillips and have been very happy with it. The ear buds stay in their place and they don’t get wet. And it was less than US$20.

Third, finding the right music. Well, I obviously like doing this (or I wouldn’t have JoggerTunes!), but I can understand how if you don’t find it fun it would feel like a chore. The good thing is that there are a few places online where you can see cool playlists that others have done to save you the trouble of having to think.

Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, is that Ryan felt listening to music made him run to the rhythm of the song. Here’s what he says:

One of the biggest issues I had was my background in marching band. I would constantly find myself running with the beat of the music. So if it was a fast song I would pick up my pace, even if I wasn’t fit enough to keep up with it. And then if the music would slow down, so would I.

This also happens to me and I would guess most people. You naturally get into the rhythm and it’s sometimes harder or slower than you should be going. However, I see this as a good thing. I create playlists with faster music when I want to run faster and slower when I want to run slower. Right now I’m experimenting with a playlists that actually starts slow for a warm up, then picks up gradually until it gets really fast, then slows down for a cool down. I’ll post it as soon as I’m ready, I’m just testing it out at the moment.


“The time of the year” is different in the southern hemisphere

It is the time of the year when people will be enjoying the outside weather and engaging in many outdoor sports. One outdoor sport that I enjoy this time of the year is running and it is a great way to stay in shape In order to get the most out of my run I enjoy listening to music.

It may be that time of the year in the northern hemisphere, but where I live it’s starting to get cold!

The author shares her list of 10 favourite songs to run to.

via: Yahoo! Sports


Running with music vs running without music

On the argument between running with music or running without:

On the pro side is Costas Karageorghis, Ph.D., a sports psychologist, who has studied music’s positive influence on athletes. His challenger is Jim Denison, Ph.D., a sports sociologist and coach, who thinks it is best to run to the sound of your footfalls. Here, the two have it out.

It’s an interesting article showing the pro and con perspectives of both sports psychologists. Worth a read if you’re on the fence or feel strongly one way or the other.

via: Runners World


How do I get motivated? The answer is music.

Someone asked me about motivation this week. What motivates me to run in the rain? What motivates me to run when work email is overflowing? What motivates me to run when there is a new episode of Man vs. Food on TV?

The answer came quick, however the answer took a few different angles.

I am motivated by the obvious health benefits I started feeling in just the first couple of weeks – more energy and deeper sleeping. I’m motivated by the physical changes I’m seeing in the mirror as we approach the half way point. I am motivated to accomplish the goal we all set out of completing the 2011 Vancouver Sun Run.

But how do I get motivated? The answer is music.

via: Sun Run celebrity blog

Brad Challoner, the author of the linked article, indicates that he starts almost every run with Eminem’s Recovery album. And in the post he tells a great story as to why.