Early morning runs can be rough, but to get through them it helps to have a little teamwork, camaraderie, and gleeful singing about death. Fortunately, military running cadences are available on all your favourite streaming services.
Cadences are call-and-response chants that, for running, align to about 180 footsteps per minute. (There are also marching cadences, at around 110 beats per minute, but those aren’t the ones we want here.) Search Spotify, iTunes, or your music source of choice for the album series “Run to Cadence” or “Workout to the Running Cadences”. Cadences sound like this:
Cadences are pump-up songs for everyday workouts — “teamwork for mutual suffering,” as one runner describes them, not meant for races or timed runs. The rhythm is a good one to settle into, and singing out loud helps to make sure you aren’t out of breath.
I did my morning run the other day with the Army Airborne, Marines and Navy Seals, and my only complaint is that the tracks were too short — a minute or two each. But there are plenty of them on each album, so you won’t run out.
There’s also the love-it-or-hate-it aspect of contemplating war and death first thing in the morning. There are endless variations on “If I die in a combat zone / box me up and ship me home,” and that theme blends right into the suffering of daily exercise and military life. The Navy Seals sing “Devil, devil, you bring no fear / ’cause we’re living in hell way up here.” The Marines sing “Pain! / Where ya at?” and then locate the pain (“In my thigh!” “In my chest!”) and order it to go away.
The tracks are usually named after the first line or two you’ll hear, but the content of each track is usually a surprise. That’s because cadences aren’t typically standalone songs, but rather assembled on the fly by whoever is calling them out that day. There’s a lot of “left right left” and “one, two, three, four hey”. Mixed in are stories about how Chief can beat up Superman, or covers of actual songs (like Gordon Lightfoot’s In the Early Morning Rain, and I swear I heard some Joan Jett in one of the army tracks).
Some of the tracks entertain you, and some motivate you. Try adding this one to your workout playlist and see if you don’t end your run with a smile:
Finish line (finish line) / Coming up (coming up)
Finish line (finish line) / Hey you (hey you)
We made it! (We made it!) / Standing up (standing up)
Super tall (super tall) / Dedicated (dedicated)
Motivated (motivated) / Airborne! (Airborne!)
Here we go (here we go) / Take it home (take it home)
All the way (all the way) / Take it home (take it home)