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
The Almost – Say This Sooner – The former drummer (???) of Underoath formed a side band which turned into his permanent band after he was kicked out of the band (???). I believe this all to be truth, but it’s been a while since I’ve read the story. A good heavy-ish song that isn’t so heavy that you can’t run to it… if that makes any sense.
Arctic Monkeys – Brainstorm – I’ve listened to this song probably 500 times while running and it still hasn’t worn off it’s magic. I can move to this song…
Beastie Boys – Sabotage – Another classic. Images of this music video featuring Cochese, Bobby, and Sir Stewart Wallace guest-starring as himself. Another song I’ve heard a thousand times, but it still gets the adrenaline pumping a bit.
Breaking Point – One of a Kind – If you aren’t a WWE fan, like myself, you may not recognize this song. It was used for a long time as the entrance song for Rob Van Dam. Truth be told, I’m pretty good at running to this song on my treadmill and doing the RVD point during the pointing part of the songs.
Filter – Hey Man, Nice Shot – I love, love, LOVE this song as a workout song. It’s fantastic for mile workouts when coupled with another short song. The first minute and a half of the song is mellow before building into a loud, chaotic, anthemic chorus.
Finch – What It Is To Burn – Finch is another band that hits the “running sweet spot” for me. I don’t listen to them very much outside of running. The right combination of melodic screaming and just all-out yelling just pushes me to run harder.
Kid Rock – Bawitdaba – I have no illusions that Kid Rock’s music belongs in the same sentence as Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, and (fill-in-the-name-of-whatever-rock-band-you-think-is-historically-great-here). His music certainly does serve a purpose. Just like “Piano Man” or “Don’t Stop Believing” tricks your mind into thinking it’s time to order another round (or “Who Let the Dogs Out” or “Walking on Sunshine” tell you that this is the slapsticky-fun part of a rated-PG comedy), Bawitdaba does something to bring some aggression inside you to the surface. Probably not a great song to run to on mile 2 of your marathon playlist, but it definitely does the trick coming down the homestretch.
Metallica – One – I’ve got two versions of this song in my iTunes – one them is the full version and another is a song that skips the first 50 seconds of the admittedly slow intro. If you can get through the guitars and guns intro (not as exciting as it sounds), what you’ve got is a song that progressively builds until it builds into a double-bass, guitar-solo calamity of musical chaos.
Papa Roach – Last Resort (Live) – Much like Kid Rock, don’t look for Papa Roach on any “best of” list put out by Rolling Stone. The chorus is a fantastic running chorus, though.
Smashing Pumpkins – Tarantula – Mark this song down as the only good song the Pumpkins have made in the past 15 years.
Stone Temple Pilots – Sex Type Thing – This song might be 21 years old, but it still wails like a newborn rock song. Maybe one of my favorite guitar riffs of all-time…
Thrice – Under A Killing Moon – Besides drummer Riley Breckenridge being one of the nicest dudes of all-time, Thrice made some phenomenal aggressive music. This may border on too hard for many of you, but it does the trick for me.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Heads Will Roll – A-Trak Radio Edit – Just the right combination of electronica and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs…
Best easy running songs
The Arcade Fire – Rebellion (Lies) – Easy to get lost in a lot of songs by this band.
AWOLNATION – Kill Your Heroes – Hard to think a song with “kill your heroes” in the title is a good mellow song, but it is…
Blue October – She’s My Ride Home – One of my wife’s favorite running songs. Heavy on echoing guitars, but with just enough gruff in the chorus to make it very run-able.
Bruce Springsteen – I’m On Fire – One of my all-time favorite Bruce songs
Coldplay – Talk (Junkie XL Remix) – Most regular Coldplay is just a tad to mellow to run to, but this electronica-infused remix is good for those slow-to-medium paced runs.
Kid Cudi – Day N Nite – Might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I find this beat very hynotic on a slower run.
Massive Attack – Unfinished Sympathy – As is the case with a lot of Massive Attack songs, this has a really big, cinematic sound.
The Postal Service – Such Great Heights – If you’ve ever watched a television commercial in the past five years, you can’t possibly claim to have never heard this song.
The Roots – The Seed 2.0 – My favorite song by Jimmy Fallon’s sidekicks…
Tom Petty – Runnin’ Down a Dream – The coolest song with “running” in the title/chorus? I typically find Tom Petty a little too mellow to run to with the exception of this song…
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross – In Motion – Trent Reznor has made a fine post-NIN career making really cool and unique music for awesome movies.
Voxhaul Broadcast – Leaving on the 5th – Saw these guys open for Airborne Toxic Event. They definitely have the current alt-radio sound if you are into that sort of thing.
Best steady state songs
30 Seconds to Mars – Vox Populi – The indie music fanboy in me would like to say I don’t like the band that’s fronted by Jared Leto… but I can’t help myself. That’s one damn handsome dude with a good set of lungs. Wait, what?!?
Airborne Toxic Event – All At Once – TATE’s got some great easy day to medium-tempo running songs. The steady drumbeat along with the ever increasing intensity/volume of the guitars will keep you going mile after mile.
Angels and Airwaves – The Adventure – I was bummed when Blink-182 broke up, but the subsequent albums by AVA have more than made up for the few years of lost Blink material. I consider myself a huge fan of both. This song sounds like U2 singing the Cure.
The Ataris – Teenage Riot – I have no idea if this band is around anymore (quick Wikipedia check – yes, they are), but if you were a single, somewhat jaded dude in the early part of the 2000s, this was your band. They got famous for covering Don Henley, but they are/were much more than that…
Bloc Party – Banquet – Bloc Party is a band I could listen to every single day and not get tired of. In fact, most days, I do. For me, this might be the greatest “running” band of all-time. Expect a healthy dose of Bloc Party on the upcoming playlists.
The Darkness – I Believe In A Thing Called Love – If you first heard this song, you’d think it was more from 1982 than 2002. These guys haven’t really hit it big since this great song, but this song is proof you can still make the classic rock sound in the modern era.
Dropkick Murphy’s – Fortunate Son – The Dropkick Murphy’s aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. They might be a little too gritty and scream-y for some, but I love this cover of the CCR classic.
Good Charlotte – The River – Good Charlotte might be the first band I’d ever “heard of” before they got remotely famous. I was a big fan before they ever had a cd released. I got to meet them at a concert at the Quest (now Epic) Club in the Cities. Despite the fact that most of their fans were teenage girls and they wound up more famous for being in US Weekly than their music, they were incredibly nice guys. They still are on my list of favorite guilty pleasure bands.
Green Day – Welcome to Paradise – One of my favorite live bands ever, Green Day’s energy infused punk rock is fantastic for running. However, a listen to their four latest albums has taught me a simple math equation. Green Day’s older music >>>>>> Green Day’s new music
Guns N Roses – Sweet Child O’ Mine – It’s almost comical these guys can’t put their differences aside. Could Axl Rose decide to show up to concerts on time and the remaining “real” members of GNR (Slash, Duff McKagan, Matt Sorum) decide to put their dislike for Axl aside, their is literally $500 million sitting on the table in a year long stadium team. The band is the perfect 80s rock band and this song is flawless.
Kele – Tenderoni – Kele’s side project feature much more electronica-influenced music than his main band – Bloc Party.
LL Cool J – Mama Said Knock You Out – “Don’t Call It a Comeback!” is a lyric that is nearly 23 years old and still hits hard.
The Matches – Sick Little Suicide – This is a fairly good song by a fairly unknown band. I’ve long maintained that it’s hard to not feel good while listening to some ska-influenced music.
Midtown – Still Trying – It was incredibly sad to see this great band break-apart only to eventually form Cobra Starship. For my money, “Living Well Is the Best Revenge” is as good of a pop-punk album as you’ll ever see.
Motley Crue – Dr. Feelgood – Much like Kid Rock, Motley Crue doesn’t rank incredibly high on the lists of intellectual rock, but something about this band still gets you going.
My Chemical Romance – Sing – This band just broke up this year. I was bummed. While they were never my favorite band, I knew they were going to consistently release 3 songs per album that were going to be fantastic additions to my running playlists.
The Offspring – The Kids Aren’t Alright – I was introduced to this song in 2000 thanks to my purchase of the “Woodstock 99” dvd. A year later, I saw the Offspring in concert and was blown away with how good they were live. They’re still around and kicking (playing 90 minutes from my hometown later this summer!) Basically, they are doing what I hoped My Chemical Romance would do (having 3 decent songs per album that I can run to).
Pearl Jam – Even Flow – It’s hard to imagine that at one point, it was Eddie Vedder and company versus Kurt Cobain and company to determine who was the single biggest band on the planet. As Rolling Stone said, Pearl Jam spent literally a decade trying to tear apart their own fame. It’s tough to beat Ten, Vs. and Vitalogy, though.
Reggie and the Full Effect – Congratulations Smack + Katy – Listening to this song, you can hear some influences to the direction pop-punk took over the next decade.
Slaughterhouse – My Life – Right now, Slaughterhouse hits my rap music sweet spot. This song featuring Cee-Lo is almost a throwback to a better era in hip-hop. I really like the thought of Cee-Lo as the new Nate Dogg. Let’s make this happen…
Third Eye Blind – Graduate – This is kind of a forgotten 90s radio song (strangely, as is a lot of 3EB’s work…), but it’s got enough tempo and grit to make it a really good running song.
TV On the Radio – Wolf Like Me – This is one of those bands that was always showing up on critical year end lists. I didn’t quite get it. I liked them, but I didn’t think they were anything remarkable. Then I heard “Wolf Like Me.” For reasons unbeknownst to me, I’ve connected with this song.
U2 – Mofo – This is by far the most un-U2 sounding song I’ve ever heard. The Pop-era of U2 features much more pop and dance elements than you are used to hearing. I really enjoy watching the ZooTV tour dvd which features this song as the opener.
Wolfmother – Joker and the Thief – It’s funny that this is the song off of Wolfmother’s debut album that has sort of “stuck.” It’s the sixth (!!!) single off their debut album.