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Marathon Music Motivation: Get Pumped with Playlists from Elite Athletes on Spotify

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You’re tired. You’re hurting. You had a long week at work and you’re struggling to find the motivation to finish your training session. You’re thinking about calling it quits… but then that perfect song plays through your headphones and pushes you to finish that last mile, last lap, last few feet.

“Music is a big part of how people train and how they run,” says Leslie Dell’Anno, director of digital marketing strategy at John Hancock. From rookies to marathoners, runners alike can agree that music has helped them get through the toughest training.

John Hancock has been the principal sponsor of the Boston Marathon for the last 33 years. Since 1986, the John Hancock Elite Athlete program has recruited and invited more than 800 elite athletes from 47 countries to the Boston Marathon, producing 32 male and 32 female champions over the years.

To bring these inspiring elite athletes to the masses in a more personal way, John Hancock wanted to find a connection through something that everyone loves: music. That’s why John Hancock and Spotify are bringing the 2018 Boston Marathon “Together Forward” theme to life through a 360-degree campaign.

By visiting runeliteplaylist.com, anyone can create an adrenaline-pumping playlist that’s tailored just for you or get access to playlists created by members of the 2017 John Hancock Elite Athlete Team. Whether you’re training to cross the finish line on Boylston Street on April 16 or just looking for a boost to get through a jog around the block, there’s something for you.

5 Quick Questions with Elite Athletes


First, you can visit the microsite and distinguish your workout for the day, from short runs to 5Ks or longer, by choosing your pace and duration. You can then connect an existing Spotify account for personal recommendations that match your preferences.

“Spotify’s algorithm digs into your listening habits and plugs in your running preferences to give you a customized playlist built around your taste,” says Dell’Anno.

As part of the playlist process, runners receive words of motivation mixed in with music. Many members of the 2018 John Hancock Elite Athlete Team recorded mantras and messages of encouragement for listeners – so when you’re running out of steam, legends like Meb Keflezighi and Des Linden can urge you to keep moving forward.

“These kinds of motivational messages will be peppered into the experience once the playlist is crafted,” says Dell’Anno. “If you need a little boost, you’ve got an elite athlete in your ear, pushing you to break that personal record.”

No Spotify account? No problem. You can still choose a race pace and get paired with any elite athlete’s personally-curated playlist to listen to the songs that get them moving. Dell’Anno says you get to know the athletes on a more personal level by getting a sneak peek at their musical taste.

“You’ve got everything from R&B to Top 40 and it’s fascinating to see what their music says about their style,” she says. “Des [Linden]’s playlist is chill and even the whole time, Molly [Huddle] will go from upbeat to slow and you can tell she goes through different moods and paces, and Dathan [Ritzenhein]’s is more intense because he listens almost exclusively to heavy metal when he runs. You see the range of personalities in their playlists.”

Lace up your sneakers and create your own pulse-pounding playlist here. It’s time to take your training to the next level.

For more information on John Hancock and the 2018 Boston Marathon, visit johnhancock.com. Follow them on SpotifyInstagram, and Twitter and use the #TogetherForward hashtag when sharing what songs get you moving.