I’ve always relied on music to push me when I’m working out. Whether it’s 20 minutes on a spin bike or a 2-hour training run, my carefully-curated playlists are like trusted workout buddies; I can always rely on them to nudge me along when I feel like quitting. In fact, I loved my exercise jams so much, I was reluctant to jump on the podcast craze.
Then, my boyfriend and I took a road trip and found ourselves binge-listening to StartUp. I was so hooked, I even suggested we drive a few laps around our neighborhood — after a 5-hour drive! — so we could finish an episode.
The next day, with no good reason to get in the car and a few more episodes to go, I took a run just to plow through another show. The following day, I finished the first season on a long hike I wouldn’t have otherwise taken. That’s when it hit me: I could use compelling podcasts to not only help push me while working out, but to also inspire me to work out in the first place.
Whether you’re a podcast devotee like me or you’re just starting to find your favorite shows, here’s a selection that’ll motivate you to push yourself harder — and maybe even sneak in a few extra miles:
IF STORIES OF PERSEVERANCE HELP YOU WELL, PERSEVERE …
Listen to: Hurdle
Need some instant inspiration for a sweat sesh that’s extra challenging? Listen in as host Emily Abbate talks to people who made it through a tough time by integrating yoga, running, juicing, meditation and other wellness modalities into their routines. The stories you’ll hear about the lessons these inspirational humans have learned will give you the extra oomph you need.
IF DISRUPTORS AND CHANGE-MAKERS FIRE YOU UP …
Listen to: Unstoppable
To help you feel unstoppable the next time you’re charging up a tough hiking trail or hit a steep hill on your run or ride, listen to Unstoppable, where host Kara Goldin, CEO of Hint Inc., talks to other CEOs and business owners disrupting their fields across wellness, business and life. There’s something about listening to rule-breakers succeeding big-time to help you feel like you can do the same.
IF YOU’RE ON A PATH TO FIND MORE PURPOSE IN YOUR LIFE …
Listen to: The Good Life Project
Sometimes, a hard workout and good sweat is just what you need to reassess where you’re at in life, set new intentions and chart a new course for yourself. For those times when you’ve hit the open road or trail for some soul searching, download The Good Life Project. This podcast’s intimate and unfiltered conversations (with big-time thought leaders like Brene Brown, Sir Ken Robinson and Gretchen Rubin) leaves you feeling ready to live life more fully engaged and fiercely connected.
IF YOU JUST WANT A COMPELLING STORY TO DISTRACT YOU …
Listen to: The Habitat
For those training days when you need to put in long miles — and want a distraction from thoughts of calling a Lyft halfway through — it helps to sink into a story. The Habitat follows six people chosen to live on a fake planet Mars (in a secluded imitation habitat on a remote mountain in Hawaii) to help NASA understand what life might be like for real astronauts on the red planet. It’s a real-life chronicle of these six volunteers’ year together that’s got all the stuff good stories are made of: fraternizing, fighting and even a couple of people falling in love.
IF YOU WANT TO GEEK OUT TO WRITERS TALKING ABOUT THEIR CRAFT …
Listen to: Longform Podcast
If you love to read, write or both, this podcast is a must. Not only will listening to some of the world’s leading journalists and authors talk about their longform articles and books offer inspiration for whatever it is you’re working on, but it will also inform you about everything from current events to obscure stories you’ll be glad you heard.
IF STORIES OF BIG-TIME SUCCESS PUSH YOU HARDER …
Listen to: How I Built This
Ever wonder how the founders of some of the world’s largest companies dreamt up their businesses and got the funding necessary to grow and continue to kill it day in and day out? Host Guy Raz asks all the questions you want these innovators to answer — and the chutzpah that comes through in their stories will undoubtedly prompt you to keep charging hard.
IF YOU LOVE LISTENING TO PEOPLE TALK ABOUT TABOO TOPICS …
Listen to: Death, Sex & Money
A long workout is often a good time to muse on those existential topics that don’t usually get a lot of play when you’re moving through everyday life. This award-winning podcast gives your own thoughts a breather as you listen to others ruminate on the topics all of us think about, but don’t talk about — from celebrities talking about money, infidelity, mental illness and dying to listener stories about things like living alone and complicated relationships with siblings.
IF LISTENING TO SOMEONE ELSE’S SURVIVAL STORY MAKES YOUR PAIN PALE IN COMPARISON …
Listen to: I, Survivor
Want a little perspective the next time you feel like ditching your workout? This podcast is filled with inspirational stories of people who’ve survived unthinkable things — like plane crashes and homelessness — and leaves you feeling like even the toughest workout you’re facing is actually quite doable.