Music for Running: A Guide to the Perfect Playlist

Categories: Runnin' Wild

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I love running to music. The pavement is my dance floor and I can go for hours. Any given morning on Tempe Town Lake I will jog, playing air guitar to the riff of David Bowie's "Rebel Rebel" if no one is looking.

The amount of fun I have on the trail has translated into a healthy turnaround for me. Over the last few years, I've lost more than 100 pounds eating right and running. I've done countless 5Ks, numerous half marathons, and I ran 26.2 miles four times in less than two years. The secret to my success is finding the right type of sonic motivation to place between my ears. You find the right track and you'll be good to go all morning. If you start getting fancy with the playlist and pick the wrong thing, it's going to be a long slog to the finish line. For example, the Belle and Sebastian song "Stars of Track and Field" isn't about running the 800 meter dash. Trust me.

There are some common misconceptions about running that could seep into your potential playlist suggestions. Running isn't about going as fast as you can. It's about keeping your pace. It's tempting to put on Macklemore and Lewis' "Can't Hold Us," but before the ceiling can't hold you the pavement might be holding your breakfast instead.

Below are a few do's and don't's to help you find an edge for your final race before the heat sets in. Doesn't matter if you're a hipster or simply enjoy pop music. Feel free to list any suggestions you have in the comments.

Classic Rocker

Try: "Won't Get Fooled Again" by The Who

A nine minute opus about a revolution full of synthesizers, riffs, and quite possibly the best drum solo in the history of rock music courtesy of Keith Moon. Roger Daltry shouting "meet the new boss/same as the old boss" is as rousing as any anthem you can find.

Avoid: "Hey Tonight" by Creedence Clearwater Revival

This song has a nice tempo and a stirring vocal about chasing tomorrow from John Fogerty, but before you get to the song's bridge you already feel like you're running through a hot Southern swamp on the way to a Baptist revival. Running is like religion to some people, but it's hard to feel inspired once this tune is over.


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