5 Running Lessons From Boy Bands

You know those ice breaker activities? About a year ago, I participated in one where one of the questions was, “What’s your favorite guilty pleasure song?” I told the group that I didn’t have one. Despite protestations from a couple of my friends who were present, I stand by my statement!  You see, for it to be a guilty pleasure I would have to be ashamed.

I will gladly tell anyone who listens that I went to see the NKTOBSB tour last summer (that’s New Kids on the Block/Backstreet Boys, for the uninitiated). img via nkotbsb.com

I think boy bands are underrated, especially as running music. Just because they’re cute, wear coordinating outfits and can pull off a snappy dance number, they somehow rank lower on the scale of musical merit? No way!  I have a longstanding debate with my husband about my cheesy musical taste, and my main point is this:  sometimes I just want something to which I can shake my ass or run fast.

Today, Salty readers, we’re gonna learn some running lessons from the boy band school of rock. You know why? ‘Cause “I Want It That Way!”

1. The song: Step by Step – New Kids on the Block

The lyrics: (As if you don’t know them!) Step one, we can have lots of fun/Step two, there’s so much we can do/Step three, it’s just you for me/Step four, I can give you more/Step five, don’t you know that the time has arrived

The lesson: Ah, NKOTB, my first boy band love. This song is a plea to some girl to convince her to give them a chance, but taking things step by step applies to running, too – literally! You can’t just jump into things quickly and expect to run a marathon in a month. Check out the Salty Beginners’ Program. Don’t you know that the time has arrived… to give running a shot?

2. The song: All Or Nothing – O-town

The lyrics: I’ve had the rest of you/Now I want the best of you/I don’t care if that’s not fair/Cause I want it all/Or nothing at all

The lesson:  If you don’t remember O-town, they emerged from the first season of Making the Band. This ballad is about overcoming demons. Now, grant it, the particular demon in the song is an ex-boyfriend that is still on their girlfriend’s mind, but it could just as easily apply to the mental demons that we runners face. Instead of selling yourself short and downplaying your abilities, resolve to give it all or nothing at all. Dream big like Ginger and put it all on the line.

3. The song: Pop – ‘N Sync

The lyrics:  C’mon now, do you ever wonder why this music gets you high?/It takes you on a ride, feel it when your body starts to rock/Baby, you can’t stop and the music’s all you got/C’mon now, this must be pop

The lesson: Did you know that ‘N Sync’s name comes from the last letter of each of their first names? Yep, fun fact. This song defends their work (and pop music in general) against the haters, and they remind us how much it can mean. Chances are that if you are reading this blog, you love running and you’ve had to defend it at one point or another. Cinnamon even gave you some comebacks to Sh*t Non-Runners Say.

4. The song: The Hardest Thing – 98 Degrees

The lyrics: It’s the hardest thing I’ll ever have to do/To look you in the eye/And tell you I don’t love you

The lesson: While Nick Lachey & Co. were singing about the heartbreak of leaving a mistress and had a random video featuring boxers and showgirls, the running lesson here is about how hard it can be to admit you need to call it quits on a race, whether it’s before you hit the starting line or making a mid-race call to DNF. Sometimes it is the best thing to do and you just need to listen to your body to avoid jumping the shark. And as 98 Degrees will tell you, ” … Maybe another time, another day.”

5. The song: Summertime – NKOTB

The lyrics: I think about you in the summertime/I’m sittin’ here in the sun with you on my mind/My summertime

The lesson: Sure, the New Kids are singing about their sexy summer fling, but this is also a good reminder to be smart when it comes to summer running. And honestly, this one made the list because you need to watch the video. Yes, they are still making music, and the Kids are all grown up. You’re welcome.


Time to own up, Salty Nation – who’s your favorite boy band? What other lessons can we learn from the musical stylings of boy bands of yore?

Southern transplant who loves 90s boy bands, outdoor adventures and college basketball, although not necessarily in that order. Recovering running perfectionist.

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  1. Sassy, I love you girl, but I cannot say I share your passion for schlock! In fact, while I don’t know most of the songs (cool points for me!) the ones I do know are now stuck in my head. THANKS! 🙂

    Seriously, I think it’s so adorable that you shamelessly love this stuff. I was a closet Days of our Lives watcher until a couple of years ago. When I couldn’t watch it I’d read online summaries of each day’s episode online. I knew what time they’d be posted and anxiously await them. So I’m really not cool at all 🙂

    1. Schlock??? Kidding. I know they’re not most adults’ idea of good music, but it’s just part of who I am… definitely still a teeny bopper at heart!

      I used to be so into Days! I bet we could find some running lessons there, too.

  2. Yesssssss! I saw ‘N Sync twice in concert, complete with signs to wave and sobbing, hysterical, pre-teen tears. It was glorious and embarrassing all at the same time.

    Might I offer LFO’s “Summer Girls” as additional fodder? Lyrics: “New Kids on the Block had a bunch of hits/ Chinese food makes me sick/ I think it’s fly when girls stop by for the summer/ For the summer” reminding us about proper race nutrition 😉

    And in the words of the Spice Girls (related-yet-opposite in a way), GIRL POWER! ::flashes peace sign::

    1. Yes! So jealous of your ‘N Sync concert going! I never saw anyone of them when I was younger, because I was first too young, and then didn’t have the disposable income. I would love it if ‘N Sync would follow the trend of their peers and tour again! Might I add that my NKOTBSB experience last year was in the 5th row? Yes, I am a huge nerd.

      Love the LFO reference. So meta! And Chinese food = definitely not good pre-race nutrition 🙂

      1. 5th ROW? Jealous. Super-jealous. I’m not sure if ‘N Sync would be able to pull off a reunion what with Justin Timberlake being so successful on his own and Lance Bass being an astronaut (right?) but I would totally go.

        Off to musically-relive 6th grade… awesome for Friday!

  3. Great, fun post! My sister and best friend from childhood were huge fans of the boy bands. I always tried to act so cool and pretend I didn’t like them. But secretly, I knew all the words. And had a few crushes (Drew Lachey, Justin Timberlake, and Brian from BSB).