When the weather warms up and my runs get longer, I need something to occupy space in my brain and crowd out thoughts of quitting. Music doesn’t quite cut it, but podcasts do. Whether you're into art or politics, sports or entertainment, there is a podcast about it. I have over 30 podcasts at the ready, but here are my top favorites.
Civics 101 — It’s been awhile since I was in school. But in the current political climate, it seems more important than ever to understand our government and how it’s supposed to work. Each short episode, 15-20 minutes long, answers the basic questions you thought you knew, but really didn’t. What is the official function of first lady? What does the surgeon general do? What are Super PACs and how do they function? What does it mean when we say the president has the "nuclear codes?” Simple explanations for complex times.
Favorite episode: No. 1 "Chief of Staff"
Safe for Work — Previously known as “I Hate My Boss,” this show delves into the quandaries many face at work. Hosts Liz Dolan, former head of marketing for Nike and co-host of the Satellite Sisters podcast, and Mike Ritter, an executive recruiter, tackle tough topics like how to speak up when someone else takes credit for your work, knowing when to move on from a company, and how to handle smaller scale office etiquette faux pas. Their slogan, “Work stress, life relief.”
Favorite episode: No. 1 "First Days With Rainn Wilson"
Smartest Person in the Room — Unless you already think you are the smartest person in the room, this podcast will get you one step closer. Each season delves deeper into one topic. The Hollywood series shines a light on the real inner workings of famous producers, directors and actors. The Religion series takes a closer look at Islam, Hinduism and Christianity as well as how religion influences today’s politics. The latest series is about bias and examines race and race relations in the most honest way I’ve heard in a long time
Favorite episode: No. 29 "BIAS: When a Black Person Tells You It’s About Race"
What Should I Read Next? — It’s a question I ask all the time, and this podcast never fails to give me a satisfying answer. Host Anne Bogel, whose soothing voice is like a cozy blanket and warm tea on a cold night, invites one reader each episode to talk about their favorite and least favorite books. Based on that, Bogel recommends three new books for them to read next. She’s like a library doctor who always prescribes just the right antidote for your reading slump. You can also follow her blog, “The Modern Mrs. Darcy.”
Favorite episode: No. 119 "A Book Snob Breakthrough"
Habitat — Host Lynn Levy documents the real-life experience of six people hired by NASA to simulate life on Mars on a remote island in Hawaii, in preparation for the real thing. While isolated for one year from the rest of the world, these six volunteers made audio diaries documenting their excitement, anxieties, frustrations and relationships as they helped NASA understand what it takes to survive on Mars. You don’t have to be a science nerd to get hooked on this binge-worthy series.
Favorite episode: No. 3 "Why Are We Like This?"
Ali on the Run — I don’t typically enjoy listening about running while I’m running. The point is to distract myself from running. But Ali doesn’t just obsess about training plans and nutrition. She interviews elite and amateur runners alike to find out what inspires and motivates them. Her questions are unique and entertaining, allowing us to see a side of these athletes we don’t see on magazine covers.
Favorite episode: No. 64 "Desiree Linden" (recorded a month before her 2018 Boston Marathon victory)
Kim Cowart is a wife, mother, fitness instructor and marathoner. You can follow her running and fitness adventures at www.kiminthegym.com.