When you think of Melissa “Lizzo” Jefferson, the Minnesota-based singer-songwriter and rising star of the 2019 hip-hop scene, you don’t necessarily think of competitive running. You’d be wrong. Although I haven’t seen her TFRRS profile, I’m convinced that Lizzo has all the makings of a champion: dance moves that require both power and coordination, enough swagger to make Noah Lyles look like a wallflower, and the flute skills that could only be the product of an otherworldly VO2 max.
HAVE U EVER SEEN A BITCH PLAY FLUTE THEN HIT THE SHOOT? pic.twitter.com/aVy3E6kIVF
— |L I Z Z O| (@lizzo) October 20, 2018
She’s also been releasing music about distance running for years. The true athletic message of her songs is usually a bit more subtle, but this week she dropped the latest single from her upcoming album, appropriately named “Tempo.” With this pounding, authoritative addition to the catalogue, we now have enough Lizzo music to fill out a full training cycle.
In honor of Tempo’s release, here are a few of Lizzo’s best odes to the sport:
Listen. I hate tempos. I would always rather rip through endless repeat miles or a two-hour long run than run a little faster than comfortable for a little longer than comfortable. And no matter what surface, fitness level, or point in the training cycle, that first 400 meters is going to be way too fast. Sorry, coach.
As much as I hate tempos, I love “Tempo” by Lizzo featuring Missy Elliott. Much like its namesake workout, its beat is steady and persistent, with Lizzo’s normally boisterous vocals contained to an infectious purr. This isn’t a song for workout heroes. It is a slow burn rather than a flash in the pan. The line “slow songs are for skinny hoes/ I’m a thick bitch; I need tempo” might reignite the #strongnotskinny debate, but Lizzo and Missy are clearly committed to a training regimen that prioritizes strength work.
The single also comes with a B-side titled “Lydiard.” It’s the same song but sung in an Australian accent.
Everything about this song exudes confidence. The casual dismissal of haters (“Heard you say I’m not the baddest bitch? You lie!”). The constant reinforcement of self-worth. The cheerful 80s beat. When you get to the starting line, you are already a winner.
The music video is clearly intended to serve as an instructional video for a proper dynamic stretching warmup. And like many of us, Lizzo has clearly improved her midrace fueling strategy, switching from 2017’s “Water Me” to the carbohydrate-rich “Juice.” I haven’t done my research, but I’m fairly certain the “Goose” she’s drinking is an unreleased competitor of Maurten.
If you take anything from this article, it’s that you should listen to this song before races to get 3 minutes and 15 seconds of pure and unadulterated ego. And unlike L-carnitine, USADA has no problem with you injecting this juice straight into your veins.
This song is entirely about the European racing circuit. Don’t believe me? Consider these lyrics:
Think about how I’mma feel when I step up on the catwalk
Think about how I’mma feel when I got that ass that don’t stop
Think about how I’mma feel when I take it all off
This is clearly a reference to the Diamond League entrance setup. The catwalk in question are those crazy fireworks runways they make you run down, and by “take it all off” she means her warmup sweats. And as any good coach will tell you, a fast kick comes from the booty muscles. This girl is in it to win it.
[Legs Are Feelin’] “Good As Hell”
Lizzo writes her own music, but I think we all know who the ghostwriter on this track was.
This song is all about shaking off the critics and the haters and wrapping yourself in a blanket of self-love. It’s essentially an extended remix of the Eleanor Roosevelt quote, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
Every time this track plays, a LetsRun thread gets deleted.
As anyone from Michelle Carter to Craig Engels will tell you, you gotta look good to feel good to perform good. There’s a fine line between vanity and self-expression, and you’ll find some of the best athletes track and field has to offer toeing that line.
So whether it’s a headband, French braid, mustache, or “war paint” lipstick, when you take the steps to look good as hell, your legs will feel good as hell. We all have our little traditions and superstitions, but no matter what form yours takes, convincing yourself you’re a star is just as important to race prep as remembering your spikes.
With Lizzo by your side and in your airpods, you’ll hit the IAAF standard no matter how fast it gets. And with her new album dropping the week before Penn Relays, expect shattered records and personal bests galore this outdoor season. You’re welcome.