Thursday, May 5, 2011

Top 15 Songs for Running

Now that it’s safe to say that spring has arrived, it’s time for my favorite activity: Spring Cleaning!

(I watched this entire episode recently and remember the words to all of the songs.  What information is not stored in my memory because this is there?)

In addition to the usual tasks, I’m working on major playlist cleanup on my iPod.  Having ten running playlists might be a bit much. While going through this list, I started to think about which I would say are my favorite songs for running.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I listen to music a lot during my workouts. In fact, I only go without music on group runs, when I run in the early morning or late evening, and during long races. I listen to music not because I need to distract myself on my longer runs, but because there is something about having the right song playing helps me to push during workouts.

How did I decide on my Top 15? My picks are songs that frequently appear on my running mixes.  I rarely skip these songs when they come up. If I do skip a song, it’s usually because I want to save it for a point later in a run when I’m likely to need the motivation or want to try hitting a certain pace.

And, I think a lot of these songs are just the bee’s knees! (Did I actually just type that?)

There are a couple of staples that I left off this list because we already know that they’re awesome, for example “Don’t Stop Believin’” and “Livin’ on a Prayer.” I also feel like Ke$ha should be somewhere on this list because I’ve listened to both of her albums from start to finish on several runs. (So what the lyrics are terrible? Her songs have great beats, and I will run the hell out of them whenever I get the chance.)

Top 15 Songs for Running

15. "One Way or Another" - Blondie
Blondie has been a staple on my running playlists, but I love this one at the start of a run. The tempo is great for both fast and slow paces.

14."Damn It Feels Good to be Gangsta” – Geto Boys
It’s a little on the slower side, so I usually place this one toward the end when I want to start my cool down. Besides, if I had to name something “gangsta,” it would have to be running when the temperature is below freezing.

13."Thnks fr th Mmrs" - Fall Out Boy
It’s all about the tempo – and the fact that I am not afraid to admit that I listen to Fall Out Boy like it’s my job. One of these days I’ll tell you about my emo kid years…

12. “Survivor” – Destiny’s Child
This one is wedged between a few incredibly fast tracks on my Power Hour playlist to mark the start of the recovery jog, but I’ve also enjoyed listening to this during long runs to push myself to keep running.

11. “Givin’ You All That I Got” – Robin S.
Technically, the song is a plea for the singer’s lover to trust in her love. It’s appropriate though, since I may be in a relationship with running. (At the very least, it’s complicated.) The song is upbeat, fantastically 90s, and great for a little push when you need it most.

10. “Bring the Noise 20xx” – Public Enemy featuring Zakk Wylde
Serious question: What is the correct spelling of “Yeaaaaah Boyyyy”? Second serious question: how is this track so amazing? This song is great toward the end of a run or when I need a good kick to run up those pesky hills.

9. “Move” – Ludacris
“Move” is a great song when you’re running through the streets of DC --- because most tourists refuse to understand that taking up the entire sidewalk is not okay.

8. "Speed Demon" - Michael Jackson
Despite it being an extremely terrifying movie, I watched Michael Jackson's Moonwalker almost weekly as a child. Why? This dance-off between Michael Jackson and a claymation rabbit (jump to 4:00 for the action).  As for the song, it's another one that pushes me to run at my top speed.

7. "Here (In Your Arms)" - Hellogoodbye
I love Hellogoodbye, but I never thought of adding their songs to my running mixes. It turned out to be the best decision ever! This song works well during tempo workouts.

6. "Bad Romance" - Lady Gaga
The last few times I've listened to this song on a run, something clicked and I felt a need to really give it my all.  It might be that I associate this song with one of the best runs that I had this year.  I remember feeling emotionally drained before the run, but I managed to push myself and finished the run in a decent time for that point in my training.

5. "Sweet Child o' Mine" - Guns 'N' Roses
This song will always be one of my favorites for running.  Period. Fun quirky habit: If I'm listening to this song while waiting for a walk signal, I sometimes slip into moving my fingers in the key pattern for the song on Guitar Hero 2.

4. “Devil Went Down to Georgia” – Steve Ouimette Cover
I was already a huge fan of the 1979 classic about Johnny the Fiddler, but add a few dueling guitars and you’ve got yourself a damn good song to get pumped during a run.

3. “Green Grass and High Tides” – The Outlaws
Like my number two pick, this one starts slow and builds to an epic guitar solo. It’s great for the beginning of a run when I want to hold back and build to my intended pace. So good!

2. “Freebird” – Lynyrd Skynyrd
I know what you’re thinking: “There’s no way that Freebird is a good song for running. It’s so slow!” You would think that, wouldn’t you? It’s slow in the beginning -- which is nice at the start of a run – but by the time the song hits the epic guitar solo, I’m ready to rock out and run fast.

1. “Through the Fire and the Flames” – DragonForce
This one has been a huge motivator when I’ve felt like throwing in the towel on a run, and it’s also helped me pick up the pace during tempo runs. It's very fast, and I've started to see if I can keep up with the tempo.  I also find the lyrics to be very motivating:

So now we fly ever free
We're free before the thunderstorm
On towards the wilderness our quest carries on
Far beyond the sundown, far beyond the moonlight
Deep inside our hearts and all our souls

So far away we wait for the day
For the lives all so wasted and gone
We feel the pain of a lifetime lost in a thousand days
Through the fire and the flames we carry on

If you haven’t already started to question my music taste, I’m interested to know what you think are the best songs for running and working out. Drop by the comments section, which is now powered by Disqus. Three cheers for functioning comment threads!


  1. Oh man, dragonfire. You're bringing me back to my guitar hero days! I'll have to download that one...

  2. I'm still working on getting through that song. It's a good thing that I really like it!

  3. I like Usher's More in gym class. Good beat and lyrics