Were You 'Born To Run'? Springsteen As Workout Motivator

Jan 19, 2012
Originally published on February 2, 2012 7:06 pm

Lately, Morning Edition has been asking people what songs help them move in the new year, in order to create "The Ultimate NPR Workout Mix." We've heard from singer Olivia Newton John and L.A. Laker Matt Barnes — and, recently, we received an email from an old friend of the show.

Mark Sinnen is a Florida mailman who first crossed our path when Morning Edition spoke with people across the country about their expectations of President Obama during his first 100 days in office. Now, he's written in to let us know what music helps him stay on track at work.

"I walk between eight and 10 miles each day on my mail route. I carry up to 35 pounds of magazine mail on my right shoulder and 5 pounds of letter mail in my left hand. I've been doing this for over 37 years," Sinnen says. "I've never been a member of a health club or gym — as my job is so physical in nature, I haven't needed to. On those occasions when I have needed motivation, nothing gets me moving like the music of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band."

Sinnen says he has meticulously sequenced his Springsteen playlist. He starts with "Thunder Road" and "Born to Run" to get his heart rate up, segues into "Out in the Street," settles into a more driving rhythm with "Born in the USA" and finishes with "Jungleland" — which, he says, always chokes him up when the late Clarence Clemons' sax solo kicks in.

"The Boss' music has been the soundtrack of my Postal Service career, and one of the reasons my customers think I'm the happiest mailman they've ever seen," Sinnen says. "If they only knew the real reason I smile so much is that, in my own mind, I sound exactly like Bruce Springsteen."

We also found another big fan of The Boss: Peter Sagal. You probably know him as the host of Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me! — but he's also an avid marathoner who has run nine races in the past five years. Sagal says that these days, he mostly runs with friends and skips the music — but back when he did make training playlists, choosing the first track was a cinch.

"I would always begin with 'Born To Run,' which I know is a cliche," Sagal says. "In my defense, I'm from New Jersey, so I have special dispensation when it comes to Springsteen. And, come on — it's 'Born to Run'! Not only is it about running, but it's also kind of a sonic embodiment of forward motion."

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This month we're asking people what songs help them move in this New Year. We're working towards creating the ultimate NPR workout mix. We've already heard from singer Olivia Newton John and also L.A. Laker Matt Barnes. Well, now one of our listeners wanted to weigh in.

MARK SINNEN: This is Mailman Mark in Bradenton, Florida.

GREENE: Mailman Mark. I actually met Mark Sinnen while I was traveling a couple years ago asking people about their expectations for President Obama. Mark from Florida wrote us to explain how music has kept him going for 37 years in the postal service. He walks - get ready for this - eight to ten miles every day on his route, and he's shouldering some 40 pounds of mail.

SINNEN: I've never been a member of a health club or gym 'cause my job is so physical in nature, I haven't needed to. On those occasions when I have needed motivation, nothing gets me moving like the music of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THUNDER ROAD")

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN: (Singing) Oh, oh, come take my hand. We're riding out tonight to case the promised land. Oh thunder road, oh thunder road, oh thunder road...

GREENE: Oh, can't you see Mark Sinnen out there on the street? He says he likes to start out with "Thunder Road" on his route, the opening track of the Boss's breakout record, "Born to Run."

SINNEN: I finish up the relay with "Jungleland" and Clarence Clemons's saxophone solo.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "JUNGLELAND")

SINNEN: The Boss's music has been the soundtrack of my postal service career and one of the reasons my customers think I'm the happiest mailman they've ever seen.

GREENE: Well, Mark, keep at it. It was good to hear from you. We also found another Springsteen fan in Peter Sagal.

PETER SAGAL, BYLINE: I run a lot, as anybody who knows me knows.

GREENE: That voice might be familiar to you. Peter Sagal's the host of NPR's news quiz show WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME. And when he says he runs a lot, he means it. He's out there most days of the week and he's done nine marathons in the last five years. His pick for starting off a race?

SAGAL: "Born to Run" by Bruce Springsteen, which I know is a cliche, and I apologize for being unoriginal. And in my defense, I'm from New Jersey, so I have special dispensation when it comes to Springsteen. And come on. You know, it's "Born to Run." And not only is it about running or fleeing, but it's also kind of a sonic embodiment of forward motion.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BORN TO RUN")

SPRINGSTEEN: (Singing) Baby, we were born to run...

GREENE: And Peter Sagal gave us a few other tracks to keep his pace up. And you can find those and also contribute your own favorite workout tracks if you go to NPRMusic.org.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BORN TO RUN")

SPRINGSTEEN: (Singing) Wendy, let me in, I wanna be your friend. I wanna guard your dreams and visions. Just wrap your legs around these velvet rims and strap your hands cross my engines. Together, we could break this trap. We'll run...

GREENE: "Born to Run." This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.