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The reasons I dislike running usually have to do with the weather. In Minnesota, it gets pretty miserable starting in early January. When the temperature drops below zero, your eyelashes freeze, your lungs breathe in daggers of icy air, and the roads and sidewalks are completely, ankle-breakingly treacherous. So about midwinter, I generally start doing most of my running inside, and after about a month on the treadmill — well, I just start hating it.

It seems like I can log only so much time on indoor cardio machines before I start feeling cooped up and resentful, and once I get cranky, the workouts just aren’t fun anymore. I like the machines fine as long as I’m using them occasionally, mostly for interval training. But more than once or twice a week, or too many long runs, and things get ugly.

So around February, I usually take a break from running. I walk outside when the weather is decent, and I keep going to the gym, lifting weights, doing yoga, taking cardio classes, etc. But I stay away from the machines until spring, when I can start doing most of my running outside again.

This year, though, I made a useful discovery: the MP3 player. I knew the magazine was going to be doing an article on them for this issue, so I got one to try. Happily, it lived up to the hype. Having easier access to more tunes made running on the treadmill a lot more pleasant.

For me, though, the real magic happened when I stumbled across MP3 audio transcripts of This American Life, the Public Radio International show hosted by Ira Glass. I have loved this program for years, and since time always flies when I listen to it on the radio, I figured it would make the perfect companion for longer treadmill runs.

It is — with one small caveat: Some of the shows are so funny that they’re dangerous to listen to while operating equipment of any kind. My advice: Should you download any This American Life episodes for yourself, avoid running on a treadmill while listening to anything by David Sedaris or Sarah Vowell, and take special precautions while listening to “Fiasco!” an episode that relates the story of a small-town theatrical presentation of Peter Pan gone terribly, horribly wrong.

It made me laugh so hard I kept doubling over, weeping and tripping over my own feet.

I ultimately had to relegate that one and a few others to my “walk only” playlist (you’ll probably understand why if you listen for yourself; it’s available in the archives at in the “Favorites” section). Fortunately, there are plenty of very engaging episodes that are safe for more general consumption.

Anyway, spring is off to a good start here. It’s getting warmer, and I’m back to running outside. The magazine is building its own momentum: We’ve been getting some terrific letters from you, our readers, and we are adding subscribers in leaps and bounds. We’ve also got a great new managing editor — David Schimke (former managing editor at City Pages, the Minneapolis alternative weekly) — and a fabulous new production artist, Jane Meronuck. You can read Dave’s fitness-momentum feature (“Life in the Fit Lane”) on page 42, and his MP3 story (“Mix Your Own Motivation”) on page 78, and you’ll be seeing Jane’s ingenious work throughout the magazine.

We hope your season is off to an equally good start. With that in mind, we’ve gathered tons of practical and inspiring advice from a wide range of experts who specialize in boosting health, fitness and many other quality-of-life concerns. If you’re looking for liftoff, this issue will tell you how to get it. Got a story or helpful hint of your own you’d like to share? See if it fits in with an upcoming theme in “Works for Me” (page 90), or drop us a line at

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