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A trial run with Britney and Company

Last year, USA Track and Field created quite a debate in the running community when it announced it would ban headphones at road races. The USATF sanctions road races across the country and generally sets the tone for the sport. The rule was created out of safety and liability issues.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for safety. But at the moment, I can't imagine running very far without my iPod.

I know I won't be able to use it when I race my triathlon. I know I shouldn't let it become a crutch.

But I consider it extremely helpful in keeping me motivated, interested and distracted from that voice in my head that says, "Why don't you just stop in that pastry shop you passed for a quick boost of sugar and fat!" When it comes down to it, I consider my playlist a training tool.

In soliciting advice for next week's Shamrock Run, I asked Buffalo News running columnist Budd Bailey if race officials will rip my headphones off if I dare show up with my tunes.

Unlikely, he told me. Most race officials aren't concerned with heavy enforcement of the headphone ban.

Big sigh of relief. Now the question is: What songs do I program for my first road race?

I created a temporary playlist that I can test on one of my upcoming runs. Finding the right playlist isn't an easy task. Too much "pumped up" music at the front end of the mix will have me running a pace that's too fast for me to sustain. Too much music with a slower beat toward the end and the push to walk will feel greater.

I'll gladly take suggestions of your favorite running songs, which might even bump a Britney song off my playlist.

At the moment, my starter's pistol song is "O-o-h Child" by the The Five Stairsteps and my closing victory song is "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana.

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