I’ve been a runner since February of 2002. Over that 11+ years (and counting), I’ve run a lot of miles. I’d guess that 85-90% of those miles have been solo miles. My training partner has been my iPod and my numerous running music playlists. Or rather, my numerous iPods (that I seem to burn through every 6-12 months). The circumference of the Earth is 24,901 miles. If I were to estimate, I’d gather I’ve run the equivalent of halfway around the entire earth with an iPod on listening to running music. When you run that many miles, you can’t listen to “Eye of the Tiger” or “Don’t Stop Believing” on repeat over and over again. Running that many miles requires a variety of running music. After years of doing this, I’ve decided to come up with what I consider the greatest running music playlist ever. The “Best Running Music Ever” playlist is going to be 100 new songs each week for a complete 12 week training cycle. Each week has a collection of slower songs for your easy days and some more adrenaline pumping songs for those tough workout days. I’ve spent hours and hours putting this together, so I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.
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Best workout songs
Bloc Party – Flux – One of my favorite uptempo songs by one of my favorite bands…
Brand New – Jude Law & A Semester Abroad – Angst-y songs usually equal really good running songs for me
Doomtree – No Way – Something about this baseline reminds me of “Battle Without Honor or Humanity” from the Kill Bill movies. Spectacular song by the Minnesota natives.
Foo Fighters – The Pretender – I have proclaimed Bloc Party as the greatest running band of all-time. The Foo Fighters definitely would have a bone to pick. They would sit at number dos on my list.
Helmet – Unsung – Another in a long line of 90s rock songs I didn’t catch on to until the mid 2000s. Great running tune, though.
Linkin Park – No More Sorrow – Minutes to Midnight is quite possibly my favorite Linkin Park album (which is saying a lot). This song has a fantastic workout pace. Slow intro (but not too slow) followed by a really intense intro before getting slammed with the chorus.
Metallica – Master of Puppets – There are radio stations out there still playing bits like “Mandatory Metallica” for good reason. As weird as they might be (see the doc Some Kind of Monster), they make really good aggressive music.
Motorhead – Ace of Spades – If you are looking how to drop about 5-10 seconds per mile in the last half of a race, listening to Lemmy’s voice certainly is a good start.
Silversun Pickups – Panic Switch – Love this band. They are incredibly consistent putting out a lot of really good material over the past few years.
Sparta – Travel by Bloodline – I don’t know if this is my favorite Sparta song (I think that goes to “Cut Your Ribbon”), but it’s my favorite “running” Sparta song if that makes any sense.
TI – Bring Em Out – I can’t count how many times I’ve yelled “…it’s hard to yell when the barrel’s in your mouth” on a remote dirt road to nobody in particular. One of my favorite running rap songs.
White Stripes – Seven Nation Army – Are you kidding me? Just one of the great songs of the past 20 years. You’ll hear this at sporting events 40 years from now… mark my word!
Best easy running songs
Angels and Airwaves – Surrender – I love AVA’s spacey sounds for an easy run.
Arcade Fire – Keep the Car Running – A beautiful song by my favorite band that seems to have 14 members who all look like extras from Little House on the Prairie.
Coldplay – Vida La Vida – I remember when Puff Daddy ran his marathon, he talked about listening to Coldplay. I can’t listen to Coldplay on long runs or hard runs, but I really do enjoy them on easy days.
Explosions In The Sky – First Breath After Coma – If you want to go for an epic run, find a really cool nature trail, put on some Explosions in the Sky and just experience life.
Florence + The Machine – Drumming Song – My favorite female Englishwoman (is that a word) has a ton of really good songs to run too.
Grouplove – Tongue Tied – Love the group dynamics with this chorus. Strangely, songs that seem like singalongs make for great running songs even if you don’t actually sing along.
Mae – This Time Is The Last Time (Donnie Vs Reggie Mix) – The combination of the spacey keyboards along with the steady bassline and drumbeat along with a really good chorus make this a really good running song.
Passion Pit – The Reeling – Glad to see these guys seem to be “making it” because when I first listened to them, it seemed like nobody knew who they were. If you are at all a fan of 80s music, their retro sound will be appreciated. This song would’ve fit in really good at a prom dance from 1988.
Phoenix – Run Run Run – As a general rule, any song with that has the word “run” in the chorus is generally a decent running song.
A Tribe Called Quest – Electric Relaxation – A personal favorite. Probably my favorite song by my absolute favorite band of all-time.
Wolf Gang – Lions in Cages – A staple on alternative for the radio for the past few months.
Best state running songs
AFI – Girl’s Not Grey – Prior to this record, AFI was just a little untouchable for the mainstream. They toned it down a little and gave us a classic record. I believe this was the first single, but it’s my favorite “running song” from the album.
The Black Keys – Howlin’ For You – The Black Keys are strange… they are a fantastic rock group that doesn’t necessarily make a ton of songs that are great to run to. This one does the trick for those “just putting in the miles” days, though.
Blink 182 – Anthem – I could run to the entire “Enema of the State” album.
Bravery – Hate… – Love the dark sound and the constant drumbeat. Plus, the lyrics are pretty negative which, strangely, I seem to respond to while running. I don’t want a song that’s speaking to me about butterflies and rainbows. I want a song that screams at me “I will show no mercy for you… you have no mercy for me.”
Dead Prez – Hip Hop – Best hip hop baseline of all-time? How can it not be?
Fenix TX – Something Bad Is Gonna Happen – For their second album, Fenix TX got a lot darker. I really enjoy the metal influences on this punk rock band. I’ll run to these guys any day.
Japandroids – Continuous Thunder – Last year’s phenomenal album provided more than a few good running songs. Who says rock is dead?
Lil Wayne – Ground Zero – I could see this song being quite polarizing. Not a ton of people were into Lil’ Wayne’s attempt at making a rock album. I love running to this song, though.
Megadeth – Symphony of Destruction – Dave Mustaine may still not be over the fact that he’s not in Metallica, but this is still one good running tune.
Midtown – Find Comfort in Yourself – It’s a shame these guys broke up to form whatever poppy band they formed. This was pop punk perfection.
Nine Inch Nails – Head Like a Hole – I used to think NIN (much like Tool) was a band that crazy kids listened to. It seemed like only the crazy kids at school wore black NIN or TOOL shirts. Little did I know how much I would enjoy Trent Reznor’s work many years later. In 1999, if you would’ve told me I’d listen to Tool and NIN weekly and haven’t listened to any songs by Master P in about 5 years, I would’ve called you crazy.
Outkast – Rosa Parks – ATLiens seemed to be their breakout album, but this is the song that brought this band to the next level for me.
Pearl Jam – Why Go – I actually like P.O.S.’s cover version (search YouTube for it) better, but this song is one of the more under appreciated songs by Pearl Jam.
Rage Against the Machine – Sleep Now in the Fire – One of the greatest guitar riffs by a band that has many of them.
The Rapture – House of Jealous Lovers – Dance rock is generally a pretty good genre as a whole to run to…
Sims – Burn It Down – Very catchy yet unique rap instrumental hits you with the beats per minute before the epic chorus.
The Smashing Pumpkins – Zero – Before they started making really weird music, Smashing Pumpkins used to be the kings of aggressive, yet unique sounding rock.
Von Bondies – Cmon Cmon – This song is like an inner voice telling me “you aren’t running very fast.” Coincidentally, I hear that voice a lot.
The Who – Baba O’Riley – If you are someone who thinks “they” first starting making music somewhere around 7 to 10 years after you were born, do yourself a favor and go back and revisit this epic running tune.