Athletes of all sports have their favorite music to motivate

Credit: Scott Barbour/Allsport
Apparently world-class swimmers arent the only athletes who sing songs in their head while they train and compete.

Following the recent "Songs to swim by" article, several readers wrote in to suggest tunes to train to resulting in a list worthy enough to fill a Billboard 100 chart of song selections.

From places as varied and far away as Australia and Great Britain, athletes have their own specific ideas for what beats and lyrics work best to gain the competitive edge.

So recharge the batteries, put on the earphones (though not while youre cycling outside!), and pump up the volume. Heres a sampling of readers choices.

Eric Mulkey from Oak Ridge, Tenn., writes:

Ive been singing songs in my head for the past 25 years of swimming and 15 years of doing triathlons glad to know I have such good company! Among '80s hits, you left out Blondies 'Call Me,' with which you can just keep building and building your pace, like on a negative-split 500. Also from the '80s, Blue Oyster Cults 'Dont Fear the Reaper' and Dire Straits 'Sultans of Swing.'[Editor's note: both songs actually were released in the '70s]

Eric ads that while cycling, he prefers the Charlie Daniels Bands "Devil Went Down to Georgia" and Jackson Brownes "Down on the Boulevard." Clearly, there is a distinction to be noted here between swim songs and riding tunes

Jason Sterling wrote to contribute two cycling songs that he favors, both by Neil Young.

'Down by the River' and 'Cowgirl in the Sand.' These songs are long enough 10 minutes each with beats and guitar riffs that never seem to end. They stick in my head, and keep me going through those long training days.

If there is one person who knows about long training days, its former U.S. Olympian and multiple gold-medalist Janet Evans, who e-mailed me all the way from Down Under. Although she is officially retired from competitive swimming, Janet has enough short-term memory to recall the bands she had in her mind during those long workouts (and during those world-record setting performances).

I always listened to Pearl Jam or U2 before a race. It had to be peppy and uplifting, but never slow or relaxing; that would make me lethargic! During workouts, Id usually sing the last song I heard on the radio, which could be a bad thing if it happened to be a bad song!

Speaking of bad songs, Randy Eickhoff of El Segundo, Calif., wrote in with a few titles that are bound to make a few readers cringe. Its hard to argue with one of the West Coasts premier lifeguard-competitors and open-water swimmers, and hes certainly found his groove in the water but as even he admits, being a reformed former headbanger, his choices are somewhat dated.

Kenny Loggins' 'Danger Zone' maybe a little Queen, 'Cant Stop Me Now' Oingo Boingos 'Dead Mans Party.' Anything with a hard-driving intense beat.

(Anything but Kenny Loggins, if you ask me!)

Steve Childers, Octobers Fitness Makeover subject who was nursing a broken arm the last we heard from him, contributed Duran Durans remix of "The Reflex" as a great workout song. Agreeing with him is sometime-triathlete and open-water swimmer Nathan Marcy, who also cites Madonnas Ray of Light album as chock full of inspiration, most notably "Sky Fits Heaven."

Stuart Staples from the UK suggests Limp Bizkits "Break Stuff," the fourth cut from the Significant Other album.

Swimmer Shane Maddoxs choice of "Let the Bodies Hit the Floor" by Drowning Pool is admittedly ... a bit ironic, but it gets the job done ... its a good song that really helps push me through the wall.

Also a bit ironic, at least if lyrics are in question, is REMs "Its the End of the World as We Know It," a suggestion recommended by several readers. Triathlete Deanna Greene of Irvine, Calif., writes:

When I need to dig deep, especially to climb a tough hill or take my pace up a little in the middle of a long run, I tune my head into REMs 'End of the World.' The lyrics arent always readily available when my heart rate is getting up there, but the beat really keeps one foot moving in front of the other and thats especially helpful during the transition in a triathlon when I get off the bike and onto my rubber legs!

But by far the most effective song choice seems to be one submitted by Beth Sanden, who did her first Ironman last May.

I have had a fear of water and never knew how to swim, so to take on an Ironmans 2.4 miles?! A friend of mine had the race announcers play Steven Curtis Chapmans 'Diving In' just before the start of the race. WOW! Did it ever inspire! I even qualified for Ironman World Triathlon Championships on that race.

She adds:

So I did Kona with that same song on my mind out in the water!

Hmmm, how about an Ironman-themed concept album, 10 to 16 hours long, with songs like "Diving In," "Ride on Time," and "Running with the Devil"

I think we may be on to something here!

What kind of music gets you motivated, and keeps you moving? Do you have "music rituals" when you do certain workouts? Sound off on our message boards!

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