Make an MP3 Mix for a Marathon With a Metronome, Cheering Section & Course Guide





Introduction: Make an MP3 Mix for a Marathon With a Metronome, Cheering Section & Course Guide

About: That's what I do. I drink, and I know things.
Let's face it.  Running 26.2 miles is a lot better when you listen to music.  But not just any music.  This Instructable walks you through how I compiled my Marathon Mix Tape.  The key features are:
  • All the music either
    • Is something I love or
    • Is something I love AND is between 175-185 beats per minute to help me keep my pacing
  • Between every track I have a 20 second sample of a metronome set at 180 beats per minute
  • There are 28 segments of friends and family rooting for me along the way.
  • At key points of the course I include a description of the terrain and what I need to prepare myself for.  I also coach myself on form and pace.
Here is how to do it.

Step 1: Get 28 Messages From Friends on Your Phone and Convert Them to MP3 Tracks

  1. I asked friends and family to leave one minute messages on my iPhone.  I told each what mile they were responsible for.  I also had a starting line message and a finish message.  I recorded a couple of segments for myself.
  2. I then used MP3 Recording Software on my MacBook to record the messages played back over the phone.  Any software that can access your microphone will do.  I labeled them with the mile and the person's name so that I would know where in the mix to place them.  The software I used to record the messages was

Step 2: Download MP3 Files of a Metronome at the Right Pace

  1. The "golden standard" marathon pace is 180 Paces per minute.  But you need to figure out your own cadence.
  2. I downloaded a 180 bpm MP3 here:
  3. I then used this program to rip a 20-30 second sample of it because I did not want to listen to two minutes with a metronome.  I used this program to do this:

Step 3: Find Songs That You Like at Your Cadence Pace

  1. You can look at compiled lists by Googling "songs at 180 (or 170 or 190, etc) BPM (beats per minute).  Here is an example of such a list:
  2. You should confirm that the song is at the right pace and also confirm that you can run to the songs.  Some songs might be technically 180 BPM but I could not really identify where the beat was when running.
  3. Use this web program to determine actual beats per minute:  In the program you press a key to the beat of the song and it tells you the bpm.  

Step 4: Create a Description of the Course

  1. Go to the race website
  2. Find a description of the course, preferably including course elevation
  3. Either for mile marks or significant points of the course record a description of the terrain.  For example, in the Pittsburgh Marathon you want to tell yourself to prepare for the long climb coming off the Birmingham Bridge at mile 11

Step 5: Create Your Play List on ITunes

  1. Put it all together.
  2. You need to figure out which song to put where by calculating the play time.  For example, my target pace was 9:40/mile so I would calculate the duration of the mile announcement, the metronome sample, the course description and then the songs.  
  3. It's not an exact science but I was surprised at how close during the actual race my announcements came.
  4. And it really helped to have my wife and kids and family and friends cheering me on thru the miles!
Optional:  You might want to consider getting this APP for the iPhone.  It uses the microphone to play street sounds and can cut your music off if the threshold exceeds a certain volume (like a truck rumbles past you).!-the-headphone-app/id389245456?mt=8

Now comes the hard part:
  • Run 26.2 miles without stopping.
Shameless Plug:  If you like this Instructable, then please also look at my Instructable on creating a running blog where you virtually run across the country.

hank you:  I'd like to thank Fleet Feet Sports in Pittsburgh  for holding the "Good Form Running Clinic" where I learned about the importance of pacing/foot cadence.  Love you guys!



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    2 Discussions

    A good resource for FREE running music il PODRUNNER (
    Great mixes at different paces ;-)

    1 reply