Playlists and power songs are great when we need a kick in the pants during an interval workout; but when we'd prefer to forget we're exercising in the first place (always?), we download a podcast. Engrossing yourself in a fascinating story makes the minutes — and miles — fly by. And there are so many good ones to choose from! Here are a few of our favorites:
Elizabeth Gilbert (of Eat, Pray, Love fame) has just published a new book about creativity called Big Magic. And in this related podcast, she coaches women who are struggling with their own artistic endeavors, bringing in guests like Brené Brown, Cheryl Strayed and John Hodgman to offer additional advice. It's likely you'll finish your workout inspired to take on an inventive new project.
2. Mystery Show
Former This American Life producer Starlee Kine solves random little mysteries in this great podcast. For example, she gets to the bottom of a very important question: How tall is Jake Gyllenhaal? (Case #5: Source Code) It sounds trivial, but it's weirdly absorbing. And it's the perfect podcast for easy, lighter workouts.
Writers Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond answer listeners' letters offering "radical empathy" and wise life advice for problems both big and small. Even if you don't have the same issues as the letter writers, the Sugars' wisdom will make you feel healed.
You know a podcast is big when President Obama's been a guest. Comedian Marc Maron interviews fellow comedians, celebs, and world leaders about their lives and careers. Listening in on their intimate conversations is like a therapy session — in a good way.
And, of course:
If you've never listened to a podcast, start here. One episode into this brainchild of Sarah Koenig, another This American Life producer, and you'll be hooked. It's one (fascinating) true crime story that unfolds over 12 episodes. Finding out what happens next is the perfect motivation to lace up your sneakers and listen. The highly-anticipated season two will follow a new story and comes out this fall.