I’ve never been a runner. In fact, I’ve always despised it. (Thanks 7th grade athletics! How I got stuck in that class still seems like a cruel joke.) But I know I’m in the minority with that opinion…which is why one day earlier this fall, I asked my friend, and fellow music fan, Kelly if she’d be up for writing a blog post on running playlists. She agreed – and boy, did she deliver! Enough to make me want to run. (Well, almost…) Read on for her killer tips to make your running playlist great.
Running is the perfect music lover’s workout: you can block out everything else but the open road at your feet and the tunes in your ears (safety tip: make sure to stay alert to your surroundings!). The perfect song can motivate you to sprint just a little harder through that last chorus, and the feeling of a great run can deepen your appreciation for whatever song or artist you chose for its soundtrack.
Whether you’re a seasoned runner looking for some new inspiration, or a beginner making your first running playlist, here are my best tips for logging some music-filled miles:
More is more
Let’s start with the basics: make sure you have enough music on your preferred device to last beyond your planned miles. You’ll have room to skip to whatever you’re feeling in the moment without hearing the same songs over again. Unless you want to — there is no shame in playing “Shut Up and Dance” on repeat for an entire tempo workout.
Experiment with themes
Making a themed playlist can add some festive energy to your race or workout. It can also give you a starting point if you’re overwhelmed by the idea of picking songs out of the limitless musical universe that is Spotify. Training for a winter race? There’s plenty of upbeat holiday music out there–old and new–to keep you moving during the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. My favorites: the Jackson Five’s “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town,” “Run Rudolph Run” by Chuck Berry (personally I’m partial to Hanson’s version), and “Oi to the World” by No Doubt.
Sample some ready-made mixes
You might be your own favorite running DJ, and that’s cool–but you gotta get new stuff somewhere. Enter the internet. Google “running playlist” and you’ll find mixes by everyone from Runner’s World to Ellie Goulding. Pandora also offers multiple workout-themed stations, and Spotify has curated playlists as well as a “Running” mode that will match your tunes to your tempo (confession: I’ve never tried it). A new soundtrack can make an old route feel less tedious — and if you’re like me, you will end up cherry-picking the best songs to add to your own playlists.
Switch up the tempo
You don’t sprint 100 percent of the time, so why should every song on your running playlist be an adrenaline-pumping pavement pounder? Throw in some low-key and/or acoustic tracks to help you pace yourself–this is especially important for distance runners who have a tendency to go out too hard too early– or for days when you’re just out there to soak up the joy of running easy. My favorites: “Take a Back Road” by Rodney Atkins, “Many the Miles” by Sara Bareilles (the inspiration for the title of this blog post), and “Santa Fe” by the Bridgebuilders.
Nostalgia = endorphin boost
Know how when you’re on the dance floor at a wedding and the DJ drops “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” or “Shout,” the energy goes through the roof? Same phenomenon applies to your running playlist. I’m sure there’s a neurological explanation for why some of the songs that take you back can also pump you up, but I don’t care what it is. All I know is that I NEVER SKIP the original Jock Jams medley. Seriously.
Runners and athletes – what song always gets you moving?
Share your picks in the comments!
Kelly L. Davis is a writer, editor and communications pro living in New York City. She is also an avid runner, lover of live music and bookworm. Follow her on Twitter for more!