A steady beat. An inspirational lyric. A ripping guitar solo. Athletes have long known what science is now confirming: music motivates us to go harder, faster, longer, and over the finish line. Wahooligans, we know that music is part of what fuels you to slay each workout. Now, with our monthly Spotify playlist series, we’re delivering expertly-curated motivational playlists compiled by athletes, DJs, and others who ought to know. This month, professional triathlete Heather Jackson shares some of her go-to motivational jams and talks about the critical role music plays in her training.
How Heather Uses Music to Motivate
Whoever said silence is golden was evidently not training to defend her title as a three-time Wildflower Triathlon champion. That’s exactly what Heather Jackson is doing, and she needs some Top 40 pop music to keep the adrenaline pumping, STAT. “I have my favorite artists and I tend to stick to them, i.e. Pink,” Jackson says. “I love her because she speaks her mind, does whatever she wants… she is incredible.”
Whether it’s Pink or another artist, Jackson credits an upbeat tempo with getting her into the right headspace to train hard. “I tend to train and race better when I am in a very upbeat, good mood, smiling and having fun. I use music a lot in my training- most definitely when I’m on my KICKR and have hard efforts to get done.”
Jackson has her training soundtrack down to a science, pairing specific songs and workouts. “If I have three minute efforts, this is when I might switch to a little bit more intense songs, or songs I can relate to while in the effort. One example is Eminem’s ‘Lose Yourself’. I also recommend Sia’s ‘Alive;’ you can do 30 seconds all out when she gets to the chorus yelling ‘I’m alive!’”
Musical memories also help Jackson muscle through short efforts. She listens to “Eye of the Tiger” because it’s the song her college hockey team, the Princeton Tigers, played as they skated onto the ice before each game. “It makes me think of my ice hockey days and how I didn’t make the Olympics for hockey, and so it gets me fired up to work even harder in that moment on the trainer.”
Jackson uses music in her mental strategy to power through long, grueling efforts. “I zoom in on my BOLT so I can’t see the time and I just tell myself that I’m not allowed to see how much time is left until I’ve gotten through four songs. Or, I allow myself a quick sprint out of the saddle at the end of each song.”
To find out what other songs motivate Jackson to stay at the top of her game, check out her Spotify playlist below.