Tired of flipping through music, trying to find that perfect playlist—but can’t bear to give up your earbuds? Consider listening to one of these podcasts on your next solo run. Some will make you a more educated runner, others will entertain you as the miles fly by.
If you’re a student of running who looks to train smarter, not harder, Marathon Training Academy is for you. Coach Angie Spencer, a nurse and experienced marathon runner, began running in 2008 as a way to get in shape. She fought through her first 26.2 miles despite being injured and quickly decided she needed a better way to train. 55 marathons later, she and her husband Trevor use their platform to discuss the science behind training, mental toughness, endurance, and using pain to your advantage. Elite athletes, sports doctors and authors regularly join their show for advice on getting the most out of your marathon training. Recent episodes have included ultra-runner and author Akshay Nanavati as well as Olympic medalist Meb Keflezighi.
From The Huffington Post regarding Marathon Training Academy: “The best takeaway from this podcast is the mondo dose of can-do attitude; it’s a feeling that lingers long after the theme music stops singing that you’re ‘well on your way.”
While Rogan isn’t a runner himself, his obsession with human optimization mirrors that of one. As a stand-up comedian, master of Jiu-Jitsu, and former Fear Factor host, there’s no specific category that this podcast fits into, only that it’ll keep you entertained the whole run through. Rogan brings in a wide range of personalities from Steven Tyler of Aerosmith to ex-convict Nick Yarris. The stories that unfold will have you laughing and crying mid-run. His two hour-long episodes may seem overwhelming, so here’s a list of the top-rated episodes, including one with nutritional health expert Dr. Rhona Patrick.
Remember the Saucony athlete whose Instagram post went viral after revealing she had been struggling with athletic amenorrhea for nine years? That’s Tina Muir, who shortly after taking a break from her professional running career, gave birth to a healthy baby girl. Running For Real is quite simply, the realist approach to running. Muir’s podcast focuses on aspects of training that are easily lost in the grind—remembering to have fun with your training, stop comparing yourself to others, and building confidence. Her beautiful approach to balancing elite running with motherhood will leave you feeling validated about struggles with injury, mental toughness, body image issues, or just getting out the door to log some miles. “You are so much more than a runner,” says Muir, “I had to learn this the hard way, as my identity was so tangled up in being an elite runner, but you are a wonderful, beautiful person for who you ARE, not what you do.”
You’ve probably heard snippets of the live NPR news quiz while flipping through stations, but if you haven’t stopped to listen, you’re missing out! Hosts Peter Sagal (a runner and running writer) and Paula Poundstone’s commentary will have you dry heaving from laughter mid-run. Wait Wait’s ability to mix humor with the news of the week is the perfect way to catch up on current events while ticking off miles. Each episode includes a guest host, typically an actor or comedian, whose background is relevant to the topic of the episode. Recent guests have included Tom Hanks, Edie Falco, and Jeff Tweedy. In an interview with the Washington Post, Executive Producer Doug Berman says, “It was designed to be not a complete waste of time. You listen for the laughs but then realize that you accidentally learned something.”
Coach Jason Fitzgerald, a regular contributor here at Competitor Running, provides runners with tips for training, racing, and staying healthy. From beginners to the elite field, he stresses the importance of nutrition, optimizing recovery, smart training and injury prevention through developing a stronger running body. Coach Fitzgerald’s no-nonsense attitude about diet fads and supplements is what every runner needs to hear. Registered dietitians, strength training coaches, and elite athletes join him regularly to weigh in on the specific needs of runners. Check out his most recent episode that focuses on the importance of getting nutrients through whole foods rather than supplements.
If you find yourself running at dusk after a long day at work, Lore is the perfect podcast to let your mind wander off into. Aaron Mahnke’s narration of conspiracy theories mixed with historical fiction doesn’t veer too far off into fantasy or fringe science, encouraging the listener to decipher facts mixed within fiction. Episodes range from stories of Navajo folklore in Northern Utah to curses placed upon the city of Detroit to witchcraft in New England.
You can listen to Lore on Stitcher, where dedicated fans leave reviews such as this one: “Producer and host Aaron Mahnke graciously spares listeners any of the gratuitous or severely graphic details found in the more grim tales, all the while expertly maintaining the interest and mystery of each episode. Overall, Lore is a rather magical podcast – leaving listeners curious for more new material after each release.”
Hosted by Sarah Bowen Shea and Maggie Palmer, this podcast is a humorous approach to how a mother runner can have it all- her family, career, and mileage—without losing her sanity. Topics included on the podcast cover struggles all mother runners have dealt with, from postpartum training to planning their runs around feedings to running with spit up all over them. (Be warned, there are some TMI moments!) If you’re a mother and runner, you’ll surely relate to the same struggles as Shea and Palmer. Recent guests on Another Mother Runner have included Neely Spence Gracey, a professional runner who opens up about postpartum training, as well as a candid conversation with former ESPN Host Kate Fagan.
Hosted by NYNJ Track Club’s Kyle Merber and Mammoth Track Club’s Alexi Pappas, this monthly podcast acts as a virtual book club. With a random assortment of titles ranging from You are a Badass, The Princess Bride, and The Hunt for Red October, this podcast has everything and nothing to do with running. Merber and Pappas host fellow elite runners to discuss what they’ve learned from the book that month and how they apply it to their own lives. Between Merber’s witty humor and Pappas’ soothing voice, this lighthearted podcast is perfect for a recovery run. Additionally, the episodes average 40 minutes long, so if you’re one of those listeners whose halfway through 30 different podcasts but hasn’t finished a single one, this is perfect for you.
“There seems to be quite the overlap between readers and runners,” says Merber in an interview with Women’s Running last year, “The way a runner’s mind works, [this project] lines up. I think it’s a cool way to connect with fans off the track. It’s a unique way to connect with people who know us for our running in a different venue. Hopefully having a conversation about a more dynamic topic will help people see a side of us they’ve never seen before.”