How can I easily switch between tracks while jogging Couch to 5k?
May 4, 2011 7:58 PM   Subscribe

I'm doing Couch to 5k, and I want to be able to easily switch between 'walking' music and 'running' music.

So, I'm working on C25k again. Some time ago I worked out music that matched the BPM of walking, and that of running, so I can walk or jog in perfect time to the beat. This really helps me keep a sustainable pace rather than exploding my heart by running too fast.

What I'd like to do is queue up a 'walking' playlist and a 'running' playlist and have a way to switch between them as I go, so that I hit a button, the 'walking' track pauses and the 'running' track starts, and vice versa.

I've looked and looked but can't find anything suitable. Other than the tedious process of building a single track in Audacity, how can I achieve this? Ideally it would be something that runs on Windows or an Iphone.

To avoid confusion, here's the scenario

* Walking, while music from the 'walking' playlist is going.
* 90 seconds elapse, at which time I hit a button
* The walking music pauses, the 'running' playlist starts playing
* 60 seconds elapse. I hit the button again.
* "Running" music pauses, walking music starts again.

repeat until gasping for breath and sweaty.

There are a bunch of iphone apps for C25k, but while many support a playlist, they don't seem to have the option for 'walking' and 'running' playlists which switch over as required.

Thanks, all!
posted by tomble to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe look up some intervals podcasts.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:01 PM on May 4, 2011

There are a couple of C25K apps that have different speeds of music for just this situation.
posted by bluedaisy at 8:03 PM on May 4, 2011

I think the Ullrey podcasts may be close to what you're looking for.
posted by emkelley at 8:04 PM on May 4, 2011

Oops, try this.
posted by emkelley at 8:05 PM on May 4, 2011

Oh, to clarify, I would like to use my own music as I matched the tempo to my own running / walking tempo.
posted by tomble at 8:08 PM on May 4, 2011

Check out this guy's blog post for a detailed rundown of your options. The last two items are detailed instructions to do exactly what you are asking.
posted by Lame_username at 8:17 PM on May 4, 2011

Are you running on a treadmill or outside? If you're on a treadmill, the iPhone app for Couch to 5k by Felt Tip Inc. allows you to easily skip to the next song, so you could just set up a playlist that alternates roughly one run song and one walk song (or two run songs and one walk song, as it progresses).

If you're running outside, I'm not sure of a good solution, but I'll be watching to see what others suggest. At one point, I would use iTunes to set individual songs to only play for certain durations so that the songs would change each time the interval changed. That was a tedious set-up, though.
posted by Terriniski at 8:22 PM on May 4, 2011

If you are using an iPhone with the earbuds that come with it, you can build separate walking and running playlists, and use voice controls to switch. When you are ready to switch, you simply (I believe) press and hold the center button and say "play walking playlist" and it'll start that playlist. You might need to test that, but that should be how it would work!
posted by two lights above the sea at 8:27 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

And you don't need the ear bids for voice control to work, but I'm not sure how it would work with different head phones. I assume the same because it'd be using the built-in microphone.
posted by two lights above the sea at 8:31 PM on May 4, 2011

Actually the voice control would be "play playlist walking". Seems redundant to me, but oh well.
posted by two lights above the sea at 8:41 PM on May 4, 2011

I'm running on a treadmill, with a media PC in front of it too, so any windows software which would allow this would also be fine!
posted by tomble at 8:47 PM on May 4, 2011

I just made a playlist with songs the correct length and approximate tempo I needed for each of my intervals. It was nice, because then I didn't have to watch the time...I knew to change from running to walking when the song changed. I think I sorted songs in itunes by song length.
posted by vitabellosi at 8:49 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

I did basically what vitabellosi did. In the early weeks, I also went in in itunes and changed the song ending time so it would cut off at the appropriate time. (Right click on the song, click "Get Info" and then change the start and/or stop time under the options tab.)
posted by artychoke at 9:11 PM on May 4, 2011 [4 favorites]

A couple years ago I found a Windows script for iTunes that would truncate songs to the length of your desired interval. After I blogged about it, somebody came up with an Applescript version. Basically, it just does what vitabellosi and artychoke did, but automates it through a playlist. So you'd just set up a playlist of alternating running and walking songs, and then run the script to truncate them to the right lengths!

(Note: This was 5 years ago, so somebody has to have come up with a more elegant solution by now...)
posted by web-goddess at 10:05 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

I can understand you wanting to use your own music, but I would be humbled if you would take my opinion into account...

I recently graduated from Couch to 5k, although for my 5'2 197 lb self it was more like Couch-to-30 minutes (Although, I'm down from 215!). Anyway, I highly highly recommend NHS Choices free Couch to 5k podcasts. The narrator, Laura, is really encouraging and says exactly the things a starting runner wants to hear without talking too much. The music is pretty good and is tailored to the walk-run-walk-run of the program. I am now listening to my own music and run the whole 30 minutes, so no need to switch between music tempos. I pretty much used listening to my own music as a reward for completing the program and an incentive to continue running and it has worked very well for me. Alternatively, you could listen to a whole album straight through. Then the music would still have a good flow to it without you having to switch between songs all the time.

It's awesome that you're doing Couch to 5k!
posted by delicate_dahlias at 10:46 PM on May 4, 2011

This seems relatively simple. Why not just make it so the tracks in a single playlist are alternately running and walking? Then when each interval is up, you just skip to the next track. If, for some reason, you have some tracks that are less than 60/90 seconds, just don't use them.
posted by turkeyphant at 4:56 AM on May 5, 2011

Maybe I'm missing something here, but if you're running on a treadmill, isn't that setting the pace? I mean, you're not going to accidentally go too fast if you're listening to fast music - the treadmill will keep you steady.
posted by brgale at 8:11 AM on May 5, 2011

Have you looked at You can search for songs by BPM or pace and then create playlists.
posted by ilona at 8:28 AM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Keep in mind here that, in a couple or three weeks, you're going to be running for much more sustained periods of time. By week four you've got five minute run phases, for example. So even if you figure this out, you're going to have to start fresh every week.

It might be easier to just hang tight with a tempo that feels a little wrong until you get into the longer runs. And then it becomes a lot easier to make a custom playlist - you could pick a slow five minute song for the warmup, a fast three minute song for the first run phase, etc etc.
posted by Sara C. at 9:04 AM on May 5, 2011

Here's a solution. He has different mixes free for download, some are with fixed bpm and some are for interval run. I suggest you try the interval; so you don't have to keep pressing next every interval.
posted by bbxx at 7:00 AM on May 6, 2011

vitabellosi/artychoke - I've been running through C25K apps for the iPhone, and none of them do what I need. And here is the solution, thanks!

Just did a drag-n-drop on my C25K playlist, adjusted all the songs for Week 1 run/walk lengths. I also optimized the start point to get rid of non-essential intro filler. And then, of course, I realized I was actually on Week 2 *doh!* - so I adjusted all of the stop times quickly. DONE.

So now I have a fully optimized playlist for C25K week 2 and I can just hit play, turn off the screen, and go. No skipping to the next song, no trying to adjust BPM while I'm running. It just works...
posted by webwide at 6:05 AM on November 14, 2011

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