With the right tracks, you'll keep a steady pace without burning out too fast.
It's that time again: Mid-summer is when you're balancing the serotonin surge of excessive sunlight with the bloat of weekend day-drinking on a friend's friend's patio/rooftop/yacht. Some of the most virtuous among us, however, have started to trade that extra hour of sleep we were getting on winter mornings for a brisk early run. There are just a few months left until marathon season, and if you're one of those overachieving jags who plans on running, it's now or never to start training.
Smug marathon vets, with their running apps and aversions to weights, have it in the bag. They segue seamlessly into training mode, knowing exactly what to expect at each mile. But the virgins will inevitably flail. Some of them (hello, nice to meet you) don't understand how to hydrate effectively or even what a cadence is. Others can't even get it together enough to match their pace to the tempo on their playlists.
Lucky for them, we've tapped a resource who can ease first-timers in mentally and melodically. Jessie Zapo gives new meaning the term "run the city," as her collective, Girls Run NYC (which started at 25 in 2015 and is now at around 150 women) focuses on running as a sensory experience, using the city's energy to fuel their goals—whether those may be about distance, overall endurance, or just a really heady high. For the newbies, Zapo, who also belongs to a DJ crew that spins at running events, tells us exactly what it will feel like at each segment when you're training for the big one, complete with tracks that should match your pace and get you just the right amount of amped.
One Mile In
"One mile in is really about wrapping your mind around that idea that you're about to spend some time on your feet, so you want to ease into it. A lot of times, we tend to start out too fast. Picking the right music that will help you start out at an easy pace and then gradually get faster—it's going to help you make that a habit. Ideally, as a runner, you want to not get slower over the course of a run. You want to feel good and finish strong.
On a long run, pick something that has a BPM higher and closer to your cadence—not the super hardcore punk music that's fun to listen while you're cycling. And you also want it to be something that's still kind of upbeat. The different BPM of songs are going to dictate how many footsteps you take. [Here's an app that can help you determine your cadence and the right BPM.]
Zapo's One-mile-in pick: I Got the Keys - DJ Khaled (140 BPM at a 10:30-minute-mile)
5 Miles In
"Fives miles—especially if you're doing long-distance—is when you're starting to feel to the runner's high. A lot of times, the first three or four miles feel like a challenge. But by mile five you're usually feeling pretty good. It was such a revelation for me, the first time I ever ran longer than that. Because I just always thought running was going to be this hard. There are these great moments when you push past that limit. A lot of the limits we have are mental that we've placed for ourselves. Our bodies can actually go way further than you thought.
When you're running, you're tapping into the energy of the city. Especially because most of my running is in the street. It's about connecting to the neighborhoods you're running through. Also, by mile five, you should be feeling pretty good and pretty positive about this endeavor that you're on at that point. The BPM should should be a little faster than where you started out at."
Zapo's 5-mile-in pick: Crew Love - Drake featuring the Weeknd (160 BPM at a 9-minute mile)
10 Miles In
"Usually, you're pretty stoked at this point, because you've made it into the double digits. You can start looking at it differently. At mile ten, you still want to be at that consistent goal pace. You're trying to keep upbeat at this point but you're definitely starting to feel it. This is the part you have to set in mentally and really be able to get into an almost meditative space. Because you still have a good chunk to go.
A lot of times when you're training for a marathon, you may only train up to 20 miles. That's maybe your long run. For me, I cap it at 20. Ten miles is your halfway point, and you can start counting down from there. In marathons I will break the race up mentally into ten miles; ten miles; and 10k [6 miles]. And so you attack each segment like it's a segment. I like listening to Beyoncé's music when I run because it feels super empowering. And I think of her as being like this spiritual force."
Zapo's 10-Mile-In Pick: Halo - Beyoncé (80 BPM at a 9-minute mile)
VICE partnered with Samsung to make a video about Girls Run NYC. Watch it here.
Read This Next: Running is the Worst Way to Get Fit