As someone with ADHD, I am always looking for ways to improve my ability to focus. My medication, my planning, and environmental cues all help but it can still take a lot of energy to keep myself on task, so when I came across some music that made it easier to stick to my work plan, I was delighted.
I’m not sure how I happened upon Greenred Productions ADHD Relief Deep Focus Music (embedded below) but I can only assume that it was something the algorithm churned up after I watched a How to ADHD video at some point.
Maybe there is a scientific reason why this music works for me or maybe it is a coincidence but, either way, playing this video helps me to focus. And the fact that it is almost 12 hours of music means that I won’t lose track of time while selecting music or creating a playlist.
I don’t always have music on when I am working but it has been great to have this on hand when I need a little extra help to focus.
A couple of weeks ago, I was returning to the video over and over throughout the week but, for some reason, I wasn’t resetting it, I was just letting it play from wherever I had paused it the session before.
So, even though it is a 12 hour video, I eventually reached the end and THAT’S when I found the best meditation/relaxation/body-calming music (embedded below) that I have ever encountered.
It turns out that I find cello music incredibly calming. In fact, when I listen to this music, I feel the same kind of sensory-soothing calm that I feel when I put on a weighted shoulder wrap or lie in my hammock. Something in the music just really grounds me and puts me at ease.
I have been playing it while I meditate, draw, colour, or read and I swear I can feel myself sinking deeper into those relaxing activities as a result.
Do you find specific types of music help you to focus or to relax?
Does music contribute to your peace of mind?
Did YOU know that cello was so relaxing? Am I the last person on earth to discover this?
Tell me all about it in the comments. Pretty please!
PS – I really wanted to call this post ‘Cello, it is you I’m looking for’ but then the first embedded video wouldn’t make any sense and besides, I wasn’t sure if the Lionel Richie reference was too much of a reach for the joke to work. 😉
As you know, I’m racing to finish Zwift Academy before the November 25th cutoff. It’s still touch and go whether I’ll make it. I’m trying to fit it all in.
Thursday night was a tough team time trial effort with TFC Phantom with missing team members and technical difficulties. Friday night was the usual TFC race with the usual suspects. We race as a team Thursday night and then Friday we race against one another, with a nice mix of cooperation and competition.
Saturday, my 💓 heart was all about sleeping in but that wasn’t to be. I only had five days left to finish Zwift Academy. Workout #8 was scheduled for 9 am.
I did manage to sleep until 8, make instant coffee and toast, and hop into bike clothes and onto the bike.
NehRita gave a talk on Friday as part of the Improv Institute’s Thinking Spaces series. Her presentation was called “Love + Protest.”
Here’s a brief bio from her website: “Jamaican-Canadian artist Joni NehRita writes songs about unity, hope and social justice. Her jazz-tinged brand of soul is infused with rhythms & sounds from her Afro-Caribbean background. A multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer, she has a gift for writing infectious, well-crafted songs that are deeply personal.
This year NehRita releases her 4th full length album, “Love & Protest” which is a marked step further toward global roots/world music. She has played festivals & concerts (both as a solo artist & backing other artists) in North America, Australia, England, France, Germany & Oman. She has also sung with the KW Symphony & Hamilton Philharmonic.”
Love it when my work introduces me to new music and a new artist.
Digression over now back to Zwift Academy!
From Zwift here’s the description of workout 8: “This Zwift Academy workout helps build your attacking power level for a solid punch. Short efforts all under 1min will make you feel the burn.”
I loved seeing all the different country flags over the riders heads. And as usual I enjoyed the banter and chit chat during the warm up, cool down, and the chunks of recovery riding.
The first half was all out sprint efforts and then having exhausted our anaerobic abilities, we recovered and turned our attention to three one minute efforts will above FTP. Not fun. But I did it. We survived. Yay!
Just one more workout and two more group rides or races to go. Wish me luck!
So I’m not short on playlists, and yet, I’m wanting to branch out.
I’ve been amused by the range of things people listen to while riding bikes. When we’re using Discord on my bike team, occasionally sound breaks through. The Beach Boys? Really? Really. I get teased about disco. Other teammates get teased for Gilbert and Sullivan. It’s clear there’s a lot of variety in our tastes in workout music.
I recall years ago at the velodrome that we had some serious arguments about music. I was on record for not liking music with swearing and language that insulted women. I think I was parenting young children at the time! The young men, teenagers, who rode there used to swap to easy listening when I arrived and tease me about it.
Why do we listen to music at all when we’re exercising?
Obviously enjoyment is a motive. But so too is performance. Many people listen to music that they think will make them go faster, whether on foot or on the bike.
Exercise psychologists have been studying this for a while.
Here’s an excerpt from that piece: “Costas Karageorghis at Brunel University London has pioneered much of the research in this field. In his book Applying Music in Exercise and Sport, he identified many ways in which music can improve physical performance.
The most immediately obvious benefit is the intense emotional connection with certain songs. Listening to the Rocky movie soundtracks, for example, “can conjure positive imagery, a feeling that one can overcome adversity”. He compares it to Ivan Pavlov’s famous conditioning experiments – in which the mere sound of a bell, usually accompanying a meal, would have dogs salivating. Gonna fly now? The opening bars of Rocky’s theme song might just prime you to push yourself harder.
Then there’s “dissociation” – music helps to direct your attention outwards rather than inwards, and drowns out the feelings of fatigue in our bodies. This can have a particularly powerful effect with more moderate workouts. When listening to music, people tend to underestimate their exertion by about 10%, meaning the whole workout ends up feeling much less arduous than it would have without the music. This should increase your overall endurance, helping you to run faster for longer.
For the most intense workouts, music-induced dissociation may not be possible – the feelings of exertion are just too strong to ignore, no matter how great the music. But during those periods, the body may still benefit from “entrainment”, a process in which the body’s natural rhythms begin to mimic those of the music.”
The article goes on to discuss studies which take participants and have some workout with music, others in silence, and others listening to podcasts. No surprise those who listen to music do better.
So I’ll go faster, and I’ll be happier. I just need more tunes.
When I first started riding on Zwift, I rode alone or with the people I also ride with in real life. We rode at the Bike Shed, a bike studio that had about eight trainers set up for Zwift so you could bring your own bike in and ride. On Zwift, I collected badges, I rode new routes, and I started to accumulate ‘drops’ or Zwift experience points to buy cool virtual stuff. I joined some challenges, such as the Everest challenge, and I enjoyed it.
Later, once we bought our own trainer and started to ride at home, I started to branch out, I joined some group rides and some group workouts. Group workouts use erg mode on the trainer. “ERG mode, which is a checkbox option when you go to select a Zwift workout, makes you pedal precisely at the power levels laid out by the workout you choose.” See more here. They’re also “rubber banded” so you stay with the other people in your group even if you’re putting out a lot more or a lot less power.
Why ride in a group in Zwift? I think there are two different sorts of reasons.
One is motivation. You pick your group ride, you schedule it on the Companion app, and you’re more likely to ride. The company is nice. I love seeing riders from all over the world. I also like the chatter. There’s two ways to chat in a group ride. Some rides use discord and so you can talk to actual people on Discord. What’s Discord? See How an App for Gamers Went Mainstream. Or you can text in the Companion app. I do both. But I can’t type while riding easily and there are lots of amusing voice to text errors. Mostly with strangers I text chat and mostly with teammates I voice chat in Discord.
The second reason to prefer a group ride over riding solo is you’ll be encouraged to ride at the pace the group is going. Sometimes you might choose a speedy group to practice going faster and to improve your speed. I’ve ridden with my bike club’s fast group for that purpose. On our own we all have a speed we like to ride but often it’s better, for training purposes, to deliberately ride fast or ride slow.
Group rides are important for me as they are, among other things, a way to go slow. And going slow is super important. See why here. I am not very good at it. I see a sprint segment, I sprint. It’s not that I always go uncomfortably fast. Rather, it’s that on my own there’s a speed I like to ride at. I train and race to make myself go faster than that comfortable speed. I often do group rides to ride socially, chat, and go at a slower pace than I ride on my own by selecting rides that go at slower paces.
Back when I did most of my riding out in the world, I accomplished this by riding with friends of different speeds.
They describe their rides this way, “The focus for this group ride is to have fun and encourage all women to join, especially those new to Zwift, or wanting a more ‘relaxed’ way to start the week. The pace will be between 1.3wkg-1.8wkg throughout the 50min duration. So join in and let’s keep growing the women’s community on Zwift!
This ride is lead by Chicks Who Ride Bikes, and we are all for starting it slow and steady. From women who are just getting into cycling, to previous World Champions and Olympic cyclists, each ride is always full of banter and fun! Plus, if you love this group ride, we also have a group workout at the same time Friday mornings (AEST).
Chicks Who Ride Bikes is a community of women who share a passion and a zest for life. Whether your garage is chock full of bikes, or you’re on your first! They see the world as it could be – a place where women are respected, connected, empowered and exhilarated.”
DIRT (dads inside riding trainers)
You don’t need to be a Dad to do these rides. There are moms there too. Also some cat moms and dog dads. The parental role isn’t essential at all but what is essential is a sense of humour, helping others, and not taking the whole thing very seriously.
From Zwift News: “For an event that puts the “social” in “social ride,” check out the DIRT Family Values Ride on Zwift. You’ll find a slower pace, a helpful team of leaders and sweepers, and lots of corny humor. Take it from team member Dave Hardenburger: “We pride ourselves on an easy cruise at 1.5-2.0 (w/kg) and the best Dad/Mom jokes in Zwift!”
From Zwift News more recently: “If you’re looking for a social ride whose length and pace is manageable by just about anyone, The Herd’s “Tuesday Social Group Ride” is an excellent option. Add in solid leadership and some fun banter via Discord voice chat and you’ve got a weekly event that shows off what’s best about the Zwift Community. You’ll never ride alone with The Herd. It’s in their name! This ride typically hosts 350-700 riders, and a strong team of helpful sweepers makes sure anyone who falls behind the main pack gets helped back to the group.”
I’m racing with TFC these days and they also have a friendly, chatty social ride. If you’re going to join us, let me know, and I’ll happily ride with you.
Each Sunday join us for the Team TFC Social Sunday Evening ride at 8:15pm UK / 3:15pm EST. Completing the ride gives your avatar access to the team kit.
There are two groups and they do stick to the advertised pace and use The Fence if it’s needed. People do sprint the sprint segments and regroup and if the course is multi laps of a short distance on the last lap, we drop the fence and race.
“Cate’s over there having a dance party,” Leslie laughed.
We were in the first rest minute of four rounds of five back squats at my feminist fitness studio, and I was dancing around my bar, treating it like a gracious partner. When the minute clicked over and I turned back to my weights, I quickly moved up to the heaviest weight I’ve lifted in this position.
I never go OUT dancing. But at the gym and when I’m running? I dance almost every day.
I’ve been gushing for months about the feminist #getstrong cross-fit style classes I’ve been doing since March. There are about 25 reasons I love this studio, ranging from its woman-focused, body-positive perspective, to discovering I can deadlift 145 lbs (and counting!), to the profound sense of community and encouragement I feel there. (Hi Nicole!) I think I’ve mentioned this before, but this is the only workout thing I’ve ever done I’m willing to do at 7 am.
The one thing I haven’t written about, though, is the impact of the music in the classes on me.
I’ve always been the kind of person who listens to music while I work out or run, but my music choices can get kind of repetitive. Sometimes I’m running and I think, “oh, this song reminds me of running in White Rock!” — and then I remember that I lived in White Rock more than 10 years ago. If my soundtrack is stale, is it possible that my workouts are stale too?
Judging by how re-activated I’ve become since I started working out at Move, I think the answer is a resounding yes. And yes, it’s the structure and the coaches and the community and the strength-discovery — but it’s also the music. Often, in the rest periods between sets, I dance around. Even — like in the back squat day — when I arrive at class feeling exhausted, the kind of moment where if I hadn’t signed up in advance, I would never go. (Late cancels aren’t refundable. It’s a good policy).
When the music hits the right note, I get energized — and then I’m dancing around the rig, or over to get a heavier weight. It particularly happens in Alex’ classes — she picks playlists that speak to me — and she always notices and cracks up. And in that moment, I am HAPPY from the inside out.
Last weekend I danced at the Shawn Mendes concert with my sister and nieces, which was fun — I especially enjoyed all of these girls and young women being completed unfettered.
(Well, I did get a little bored toward the end — my niece took a photo of me doing a crossword puzzle on my phone). But at this point in my life, I can’t imagine actually going OUT dancing. It STARTS after I’m already in BED! But when I’m moving my body in exercise, sometimes I’m approximating dancing — and sometimes — at Move or at lights when I’m running, I’m actually dancing.
In writing this post, I thought I’d end with sharing my current playlist. And then I realized I really just want an excuse to gush about Lizzo.
At the beginning of the summer, a colleague shared with me that the night before, she’d been at her best friend’s 40th birthday party — and her gift to her friend was a burlesque number she’d put together to Lizzo’s Because I Love You. “Because I love her,” she said simply. (I got to see some of the video — it was awesome). That embodied what I love about Lizzo — full-bodied, sexy, unapologetic, full-voiced, love yourself and your friends who get and accept you.
And then there’s this:
When I’m working out or running, I channel Lizzo. I’m my own soulmate — “look in the mirror like damn she the one.” Here’s my current playlist, so you can channel her yourself. It starts with Lizzo’s Juice and then wanders through an array of (mostly) women who’ve inspired me, raunchy, sexy, delicate, vulnerable and honest, all summer. (You can find it on Spotify under my cateinTO i.d).
Do you dance when you’re working out? What’s your soundtrack?
Fieldpoppy is Cate Creede, who lives, works and dances in Toronto.
The other day Sam and I were reflecting on how for some reason our feminism has gone from “rage-y” and ranty to reasonable and moderate. Maybe it’s because we are both university administrators, so we can’t afford to be rage-y and ranty at work (for the most part…), at least not overtly so, if we want to get stuff done. But it’s spilled over into the blog. I can’t remember the last time I unleashed some good old feminist rage about something.
Her playlist was a collaborative effort among friends on social media. She put the call out for feminist tunes for cranking and feeling that surge of strength and solidarity. And the suggestions started rolling in, and rolling in, and rolling in. I shared her call on my timeline and again, more ideas. In the end, she put together an amazing and varied 13.5 hour playlist. I highly recommend it.
Not all the tunes are good for running, though many are. I tapped into it when constructing a new playlist for the upcoming season (I say “upcoming” because here it is spring in name only). As I said the last time I shared a playlist, it’s really idiosyncratic to me. I don’t measure beats per minute. I start off a bit slower and pick up the pace. But I’ve not yet test run it and it’s possible that I will need to double click on my ear bud chord a few times if a tune comes on that is not well-suited to where I’m at in my run. It will take a bit of tweaking for order and adequacy.
Feel free to follow it, suggest additions, or register suggestions and complaints (not promising to honor all of them, since my main goal is to make a playlist that works for me. I have tried it out at personal training twice this week, and it’s great for that. Paul (my trainer) complained (in jest) that he didn’t feel represented. I take that as a good sign that it’s hitting at least one feminist mark. And when my friend Alison showed up at the tail end of my session, she remarked that the music was fantastic.
One of the greatest things about having a large community of active people around me is that great recommendations I get when I put out a call for tunes to refresh my running playlist with. The most recent update came to me, not with my own call but in a comment thread in response to someone else’s. Maybe I’ve had this recommended to me before, but I didn’t follow up. That was back when no one had posted the video. This time, someone did.
The tune is called “Soy yo,” which is Spanish for “I am.” It’s by Bomba Estéreo. My Spanish is kind of rusty, so beyond the title I don’t know what the words mean. But it doesn’t matter because the music video has given me such a positive impression of the song that I feel like a million bucks of invincibility every time I hear it. It’s all on account of the kid at the heart of the video. She is just bursting with life, with attitude, with gumption.
From the minute she steps out of the salon where she just had her hair done, clearly pleased with herself and the result, she is ready to take on the world. And so she does. In three short scenes, she puts herself out there with unabashed self-confidence. And I’m cheering for her all the way.
See for yourself!
What’s your current fave video (preferably it’s attached to a great tune for my revised winter running playlist)?