May 21, 2008

Love, Hate, and iTunes

[By Crabby]

Here is a sad story:

A couple weeks ago, I biked to the beach to go for a run. For several days, there'd been a large pod of rare Right whales just off the coast. And I was in luck, there were three of them just offshore! The beach was empty first thing in the morning and it was just me and three whales. I was psyched.

But then I reached into my pocket and discovered I'd forgotten my iPod. I nearly burst into tears.

My run was ruined.

(Sure, the whales helped--they were awesome. But I still spent most of my run sulking over the fact I had no music).

Hello, my name is Crabby McSlacker and I have an iTunes addiction. Are there any fellow addicts out there who can no longer do aerobic exercise without music?

Most of the time, it's not a problem. Like when I remember to bring the iPod and the battery is charged and I have a playlist full of good tunes, life is good. Exercise becomes far less of a chore--and is sometimes even fun.

And hey, exercising to music is good for you!

However, due to my technological stupidity and a certain amount of Evilness lurking behind the cheerful exterior of the iTunes Empire, often things go wrong.

(Not everyone has problems. My current difficulties come from trying to move my iTunes library over and over--from laptop computer to desktop computer to new laptop computer to new external hard drive, etc. It also didn't help that I bought a new iPod, even though I had to to replace a satanic one that used to spontaneously change languages and play all sorts of other pranks.)

I had originally thought for this post I might put my whole exercise library of Eight Awesome Workout Playlists (sorted alphabeticially by song title, for maximum randomness) up on iMix for everyone to laugh at check out. I even managed to publish the first one, but it turned out crappy because I forgot to delete the songs off it that I didn't like myself. I set out to do a much better job on the next seven... and that's when iTunes turned stupid and mean.

It decided it couldn't find any of my songs anymore.

"Hey iTunes," I said, calmly, "the songs you are looking for are are right here. Remember? I told you I moved them to an external drive. Recognize them, please? There are 300 songs and I paid you for all of them."

"Songs? What songs? I see nothing but exclamation marks."

"Right here! You knew where they were five minutes ago, and I haven't moved them!"

"Songs? Nope. Sorry! Can't find 'em anymore. But hey, if you need tunes so bad, you can always get your butt over to our iTunes store and buy 300 more."

When it's Crabby vs iTunes, it's not an even match.

So half a day and many attempts at fixes later, I still can't get the library working again--which means I can still play things off my own iPod, but I can't share playlists.

Which is just as well because you'd hate the songs. Other people's favorite workout music always seems surprisingly sucky.

So I have to apologize again to all the googlers who come to Cranky Fitness looking for "workout music" or "exercise iTunes playlists" or "best iPod cardio tunes" or "aerobic iTunes suggestions" or whatever--and just get a lecture on how everyone has different tastes so go look somewhere else.

One way to do it: go to iTunes or your own favorite retailer, and search people's shared playlists until you find music that doesn't make you barf.

At iTunes, you can go to the regular iMix section and search for "cardio" or "spinning" or "aerobic" etc. There is also now a special section called Nike Sports Mixes. It's not just corporate stuff, there's a section that includes workout iMixes made up by real people--real people who know how to get to their own music libraries and share playlists.

Does anyone else have a love/hate relationship with their exercise music technology? Or any awesome suggestions for workout music we can disagree over?

(Note: For alert readers who noticed that today's post was exceptionally lame, there's a reason: the Crab and Lobster have house guests this week. Crabby's posts should return to the more accustomed level of lameness next week. There may or not be Time Off involved--we'll see. Thank God for Merry and for patient readers!)


  1. Happy HOUSE GUESTing!

    MizFit might git out there, make some friends and drag them to her abode if I can seize the excuse for my (all too often) boring posts....which all begs the question how, even with aforementioned guests, you make me laugh.

    I have a musicdownload ADDICTION which was in beta but may be *open to all* now-----my fave part of it is that it's all PLAYLISTS all the time!

    Saves my using braincells for music arranging!

    (Runs to check if it's openopen yet and will be back)


  2. Well, I am with you. I love and hate my iPod... Okay, iPods, cause I have two. My very first iPod died on me after a year. It just went completely nuts and did the most bizarre things, another satanic one maybe. I considered getting it repaired, but the price was so ridiculously high that I bought a new MP3 player.. another iPod incidentally...
    So I have my 80 G iPod and my running iPod... So far so good..
    I envy those runners who take those long runs outside, listening to the sounds of nature and/or traffic, acutely aware of their surroundings. Me? I MUST have my music to pace myself, else running hurts, sucks and takes forever. Plus I get to hear how out of breath I am. And yes, I have almost cried before upon finding I have forgotten my dear tunes... Sometimes, I feel like such a slave to technology. Of course I am typing this on my Apple computer.

  3. Methinks I'm not "an alert reader" 'cause I didn't notice any lameness in the post.
    Seems to me the only way to avoid an iPod addiction is never to start. I never thought it would happen to me, but it has. I've even been known to sleep with my iPod (gasp) when insomnia threatens.

  4. I don't know from iTunes. I like quiet and/or sounds of the natural world when exercising.
    Lucky you to have whales so close.
    Enjoy your guests.

  5. (love leah's "I dont know from itunes")

    see? Merry agrees. you officially hath no lame posts.

    this is where I go:

    it's in beta but is opening soon.

    I love it.

    Broke up with itunes as soon as I found it and begged my way inside early :)


  6. I bought an iPod. Got all thrilled, downloading a ton of music, stuff I love.

    My daughter has it now. last time I used it is when I borrowed it from here when I was having my root canal done. I love music, I'm just not into carrying it around with me.

  7. I haven't been able to bring myself to fork out for an iPod yet, though I do go "oooh shiny" whenever I see one.

    And my gym plays AWFUL and LOUD music which is the one bane of my workouts :-( I expect they think it's unobjectionable because it's "mainstream" or "popular" or something, but it's (to me) generic modern pop. Which I am sadly not a fan of.

    How do you cope with headphones on when running? I used to wear headphones at a previous gym, as they jacked into these little ports on the cross-trainer for the telly, but I don't like the feeling of them when I'm jogging...


  8. I am addicted to my ipod! I thought about it this morning when I went for a run on a trail by a river and noticed how I should be listening to nature but was blasting music instead. Oh well! I don't even want to know how much I've spent on itunes in the last 4 years or would be a frightening amount!

  9. you are not alone, i cannot figure how to move music between computers or ipods either. this has resulted in me paying twice for several songs which is even more sad when i tell you that i don't even like to workout with an ipod! I used to use it a lot when i was teaching several spin classes per week, but now it has become a kid's music player. my ipod now blasts hits such as Wags the Dog and Dorothy the dinosaur.

  10. Haha! You sound just like me! I cannot run without my mp3 player. The biggest thing holding me back from registering for more races is that they won't let me have my music! So sad. Andyeah, iTunes regularly screws me too with the tech glitches. I feel your pain.

    And thank you for not posting your mixes. It's true - whenever I see a "mix post" I always skip it. I hate other people's music. I hate reading about other people's music. And it goes both ways - I don't expect anyone to be interested in mine either;)

  11. The Bag Lady lives in her own little Pod.

    She needs no outside help for music because there is always a soundtrack running in her head. (*Please note, she also did not say while she was running...)

    She does not have an iPod, nor does she ever plan on having one. She cannot stand to have things in her ears, and when she is out and about, she prefers to listen to the sounds of nature, although they do say, you generally don't hear the cougar until he is already upon you!

  12. Outdoors, I prefer natural sound. (Even when it used to be city traffic.)
    Indoors, well, as I said yesterday I could not face the bike without podcasts. I can't exercise to music (unless I'm dancing, of course) because it interferes with my own rhythm, but indoor cycling is excruciatingly boring. I don't have an iPod, so I just put the laptop on top of the shredder on top of the file cabinet in the sewing room, and the headphone cord is just long enough.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  13. I love, love, love, love my iPod Shuffle. But I hate, loathe, detest, want to kill, etc. everything about iTunes, possibly the worst piece of software in the universe. It's slow. It's bloated. It doesn't understand what I want it to do. Sometimes, magically, it does what I want it to do, and then it will never do it again. It is not truly software, I think; it is really run by evil elves that are out to drive me crazy. This is worsened if you're stupid enough to want to listen to audiobooks on it, something that the Shuffle is really bad for, especially if you use Audible books, another bad technology that doesn't track properly and causes you to need to constantly resync, which gives the Evil Elves another chance to thwart you by refusing to do what you want 50 times and then randomly doing it.

    But like you, the whales would not compensate for having forgotten my iPod. I'm addicted.

  14. These days, I'm always torn between bringing the iPod with me to get some real exercise, or just bringing the camera to get some decent shots. So far the camera is winning. So far, I'm getting fatter. I think I need to make a change.. or at least bring them both.

    I haven't made tune lists specifically for walking (I don't run). I just play my music on shuffle, and hit the next button if the current song doesn't do anything for me.

    And I agree.. I've never seen a lame post yet.

  15. ""Hey iTunes," I said, calmly, "the songs you are looking for are are right here. Remember? I told you I moved them to an external drive. Recognize them, please? There are 300 songs and I paid you for all of them.""

    Meanwhile, in Flyover Country...

    "Hey, Linux-powered PC! Here's this CD that I borrowed from the library/someone else and I didn't pay a red cent for! Rip all these songs for me!"

    "Working... Done."

    "Great! Now copy them to my awesome non-Apple portable music and video player."

    "Working... Done. Have a great workout!"

    "Awesome. Suck it, Apple!"

  16. there are some songs i'd like to put on my ipod but they are so bad/cheesy that i'm too embarrased to put them on there for fear of someone finding my pod and judging me harshly for them.

    sorry, can't talk - my therapist is calling....

  17. I fear the iTunes store and live cowering terror that I'll delete it and not be able to get it back.

    I'll give you credit for still working out even having forgotten the iPod, because I'll use that as an excuse to not.

  18. I am the same way - I need music to workout. I need it to work in isoaltion in the lab too...I even need tunes to study by. I'm a musicaholic.
    I like my iPod, but currently annoyed with it as I've filled it. So now instead of adding a CD or song when I buy it I have to think of what i want to remove...who'd have thought I'd fill it up with over 40GB? I have a little Nano too, but I can't decide what music to put on it...I want it ALL! :)
    I love that you can get old podcasts of old radio dramas and listen to them - I spend my workdays listening to the Shadow lately. So I have to get a bigger old iPod just won't' die. It's been a good little thing to me. iTunes is rather annoying...but a necessary evil...
    Even before the iPod I always had a walkman or discman.
    I think if you can get away with working out without music do so...once you start, it dooms you. I find it helps me keep the pace and encourages me on the days when I just don't feel like going out and running.

    If you've bought music and your computer is registered with iTunes, you should have access to the songs on it...

  19. I enjoy listening to music while I exercise, but I never take my iPod with me when I go running because the earphones always come out. Apparently I have messed up ears.

  20. I just bought a new Ipod Nano a couple weeks ago and already I cannot walk or run without it. *sigh* Is there a support group out there?

  21. You guys are cracking me up, and thanks for putting up with today's ramblings. I should be out in the garden with guests but had to sneak in for a quick blog check. (Talk about addictions!)

    Alice, I'm exactly like you about running without an iPod. But when I have it with me, it's actually even fun!

    Ali, re: headphones--I can't abide by earbuds and must have the old fashioned kind of earpieces that go over, not in, my ears. I like the lightweight kind of headphone that goes behind my head though, not the big-ass stereo kind or the kind that goes over the top.

    Meg--I know, I feel creepy preferring my tunes to nature sounds, but I make up for it by appreciating them extra when I'm walking. Running=chore, needs tunes; walking=fun, appreciate nature.

    Nina, I totally agree about the Evilness of iTunes, well put!!

    ChickenGirl, I knew you would have a superior solution! Wish I had your brains and technological fearlessness.

    And geosomin, isn't it amazing how you can fill those things up? That's why I got the bright idea of storing my library on an external drive. Too bad I can't convince iTunes of that.

    And re embarrassing iPod selections--mine are the CHEESIEST but what the hell.

  22. I just have to tell are absolutely 100% right on! I will freakin' turn around and straight up not work out if I my ipod is dead. I need my musical motivation. Also, when I got a new ipod touch for my Birthday but it caused my Macbook to go psycho because it was "too full" of stuff, I spent 2 consecutive days and probably a total of 4-5 hours at the Apple Store (the days following Christmas if you can believe it) trying to fix my stuff and not cry! It was ugly, and thankfully, for the time being, all my stuff works!!

  23. I have to exercise to music, even if I'm not really exercising - I usually walk about 15 minutes to the train in the morning to go to work. I put in my headphones (the ones that hook over the ears, I agree with Crabby that those are so much easier to deal with) and walk to the beat. But if my ipod runs out of battery, it's almost tragic how much I almost don't want to walk that day. Kinda sad too. I should just enjoy the nature on the bikepath.

    I just figured out how to put DVDs on my ipod. I'm heading out for vacation in a couple hours (wheeee!) and figured this would be a good chance to watch all those fitness DVDs I have accumulating, when I'm a captive audience on a plane (and no, I won't be contorting myself into fitness moves in my tiny airplane seat...this is just for professional development...). I'm crossing my fingers that it'll work...

  24. i also cannot get my Ipod to do what I want...i have the most basic of problems....i can't get MY music on MY ipod...we have 3 ipods in the house and they all have the same exact playlists because none of us can figure out how to get the computer to recognize the 3 different ipods....I often have to slow down my workout to fast forward past Hannah Montana and American Idol songs that my 12-year old bought...and she's not real thilled to be shuffled into Elton Johns greatest hits...

  25. Crabby! It's synergy!! I have a post, written last week, that will come up on my column today on the power of music!! I read, yesterday about a surgeon studing the healing effects of music post-op, but it came too late to add to the post. I might occasionally listen to music on a stereo in the OR. Can we say ZZ Top!! :-)

    Dr. J

  26. I'm with Chicken Girl, except for the Linux part - I'm still stuck with windows, but when this baby dies, I will not be getting Vista.

    Actually, my tunes right now are on my phone, which also has camera, so I can get some reasonable photos too. Of course, I ride my bike, so don't listen to music then. Only on the bus or walking....if I remember to bring the headset.

  27. Crabby,

    You can change your iTunes library to an external drive, but you have to tell iTunes wehre it is...if you go to the Mac help page, look up iTunes and hunt, there is a step by step way to move your iTunes library to another (bigger...heh heh) hard drive...we did it a while back and unless you do it the "right" way iTunes can't find it.
    If you can't find it bug me...I"ll look it up...

  28. Sorry, Crabby, I can't relate with this one. When I'm out for a run, it is one of my only quite times during my day (unless I'm doing the hampster thing on the treadmill, but that's another story . . .) so I just plod along to the gentle rhythms produced my my feet tickling the pavement and my breathing. Maybe once the kids are bigger and I send them off to school for the day I'll have other quiet moments in my life and can enjoy some tunes on my runs.
    Glad you had the whales to pull you through!

  29. Oh, I FEEL you! I am an idiot when it comes to technology and when I first got my pretty lil iPod, I begged my friend Amanda, who owned a store and thus, had tons of funky music downloaded, to put it all on my new gift. The problem - she has a Mac and I have a PC and apparently, once you use one, you can never, ever, ever use the other to download music. So now, whenever I want a new song, I have to convince amanda to drag her butt over to me (or vice versa) with her MAC so I can listen to Smack My Bitch Up when I run.

  30. I have an iPod, and I like it, but I don't really use it all that much. Maybe that's why I haven't had any problems!

    I have problems with my ears, so I don't always want headphones blasting noise directly into them. But, for running outdoors, I do find it is nice. If I'm walking, I prefer to skip the iPod and soak up my surroundings.

    I do like the iPod for travelling though, and sometimes use it at work.

  31. The only iPod/iTunes problem I've had was when I switched laptops. See I burned all my music/tv shows/movies to 5 DVD's. Then I went to put them on the new laptop, only to find out that they didn't burn correctly or something. So I call the computer shop where I took the old laptop to be reformatted and made new-like for my brother, thank god they hadn't started yet or I would be out a lot more money then I would be willing to admit.

    I have the same problem as John, lots of lame music I don't want anyone to know I listen to. I do have mine of the ipod though, I just never let anyone look at it.

  32. I hope geosomin's tip works because having terrible taste in music myself, I'm dyyyyyyyying to see these playlists!

  33. I love my new iPod (I've used it maybe six times now), but I think my ears are deformed. Seriously. The buds HURT when I try to listen for more than 10 minutes.

    Will standard headphones work with an iPod? It may be my only hope.

  34. I've had 3 ipods die on me. if a
    4th one goes then i might consider the teensy-weensy possibility that it maybe could me be...but i dont think so.

  35. Dara-you can use any headphones with the standard jack in an iPod. The only one thats a little bit irregular is the iPhone (and maybe the iPod Touch).

  36. I love your blog - great post too! I love my iPod - thank goodness my husband has one too because I can really whine when I find out my battery has died!!

  37. You saw whales!!! :D

    Re: music addiction and iTunes, I learned after many painful episodes of watching iTunes empty itself of my entire library on my pc to NEVER use it while Photoshop is running. So I listen to my Shuffle or my 'pod when on the computer sometimes while working in PS, or I listen to XM online.

    When it can't find your songs, it has just lost it's "path", and you have to lead it by it's stubborn little nose to your music folder, and point it at it, usually by "browse"ing your way to the folder, then importing the folder again.
    Your library is still there.

    iPods have little tiny hard drives inside, very very sensitive little hard drives. Apple apparently considers them disposable, and they are assembled in China. Always get extended Apple Care, because then you are "renting" one for at least two years: when yours dies they give you a refurb. Over and over and over if necessary. after two years, you have to buy another. Or not.

    The Shuffle is AFAIK flash memory, which is stable and can take all the bouncing around of running and exercising. Some iPods seem bullet proof, some are delicate little devices that need special vibration dampened tiny little velvet hammocks to sit it to keep working.

    My iPod is my stay at home, my shuffle is my lil' buddy that goes out for exercise. I love them both, the iPod is a video pod, I have watched tv in the middle of the night in the middle of the woods. Baaad camper!

  38. You should get anapod explorer.

    It lets you use your ipod as a removable disk, and you can drag and drop music like you would in windows explorer. (This is assuming you're not a mac head - your daring to hate on any apple product at all leads me to believe you're not part of the koolaid brigade)

    Also.. I know you're in the states and so it's slightly more risky to get your music for... *cough* free... but you ought to consider doing it if you can't get your itunes purchased music back. Just replace what you've already bought, and then if it ever comes up in court (unlikely) you were simply archiving music you'd already purchased.

  39. PS I really like Jose Gonzalez - Heartbeats for cardio, a bit different from the in your face techno that seems to be the standard, but it's got a really good running beat.

  40. I have a half-ass run guaranteed if I don't have my adorable aqua shuffle on my hip. I would love to see your playlists! I spend as much time preparing my playlists for my run as I do on the run itself.


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