This Is My Jam: Music For Your Running Playlist

running music playlist

I do not run without music. Ever. If my iPod is out of juice, I’ll either keep it plugged in til the last possible moment before I head out the door to eke out every second of battery life, or I just shrug and say, “Meh. I don’t really need to run today.”

I know there are many, many running purists out there who love to focus on the pounding of their shoes on the pavement, the bird song, or the wind in the trees. Bird song is not my jam, nor is the sound of my own ragged breathing. I do not want to hear that, not ever — it just makes me tired.

Over the years I’ve curated many, many carefully-crafted playlists of running music. I LOVE finding new music to add, so I’m sharing mine today in the hopes that you, too, will find a new song that motivates you to get out there and kick some butt.

Let’s start with the selection process. You can’t use just any song as a running song, oh no, that would be pure madness. Here are my criteria:

  1. Upbeat. Duh. No one wants to run to “My Heart Will Go On.”
  2. Roughly 180 beats per minute (although there are many exceptions). I find that cadence works quite well for me, and I was a band geek for far too long to run out of step to the music. It just doesn’t feel right.

You can find the full 47-song playlist at the end of this post, but first I’d like to take you on a superlative tour of some of the greatest hits on my iPod. Be warned that my tastes run to the relentlessly pop-y. If you still shriek in happiness when an N*SYNC song comes on the radio, you’re going to LOVE this playlist. (all links go to iTunes)

Most Embarrassing Song

Let’s get right to it. The only thing people judge more harshly than your parenting is your taste in music, and I don’t hesitate to throw open the shutters to reveal the most embarrassing songs that I love in a truly non-ironic way. There’s no question which song wins this award: it’s Lindsay Pagano’s Everything U R (and yes, it is spelled that way). I cannot explain why I like this song. It has the perfect running cadence, but lots of songs do and they don’t make it on the list. I’m a sucker for terrible millennial pop music and I’m not afraid to admit it.

Most Motivational Song(s)

This is a tie between Unstoppable by Kat Deluna and All the Above by Maino feat. T-Pain. THIS IS MY JAM, YOU GUYS. When I ran my fastest half marathon ever I played these two songs over and over and over again during the last two miles. Maino got me through some of the hardest running I’ve ever done and Kat was with me when I crossed the finish line. These two songs are forever anchored in my mind to a time when I pushed hard and kicked some serious butt, so I always listen to them when I need a little extra boost.

That Song You Love Too But You Won’t Admit It

Beautiful Life, by Ace of Base. Obviously this song is awesome because it’s Ace of Base. (Don’t act like The Sign wasn’t your favorite song for like 5 years. No? Just me? Ok then.) And you love it. You know you do.

Weirdest Song

Un Monde Parfait, by Ilona Mitrecey. This is a French song that I picked up at some point during my junior year abroad in Paris. It’s a very weird techno song that’s just a little kid singing about how he is drawing a perfect world full of animals and then he’s going to sleep in the countryside of his dreams. When he doesn’t like it he’s going to erase the whole thing and start over with new animals and new houses. Yeah, upon further reflection is a tad creepy. (I couldn’t find this one on iTunes; go figure.)

Song I Would Not Want My Mom to Listen To

Talk Dirty, by Jason Derulo. OK YOUR NAME IS JASON DERULO WE GET IT. I don’t understand why he needs to announce it in every song but whatever, the dude delivers catchy music that makes you want to move. It’s also the kind of music that makes you leap to change the station if it comes on the radio when you have small children in your car. Mom, if you haven’t heard this song, don’t listen to it. Just…don’t.

Most Often Appearing in This Playlist

Fun, with three songs: Some Nights, All Alone, and We Are Young. Gym Class Heroes and Kat Deluna are tied in second place with two songs each (Stereo Hearts and The Fighter for Gym Class Heroes; Unstoppable and Run the Show for Kat Deluna).

Best Running Song You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

What’s Golden, Jurassic 5. Hat tip to my sister for forcing me to listen to this song many years ago. I make a new playlist for every race I run (OCD much?) and this one always, always, always makes the cut. It’s around 180 bpm but it hovers on the faster side of the spectrum, which makes it a perfect song for when I want to push the pace.

Song That Must Be Playing When I Start Running a Race

Let It Rock, Kevin Rudolf feat. Lil’ Wayne. I admit this might be a little weird, because I’ve never met anyone else who does this. But I don’t think I’ve ever run a race (like ever…ever ever) without pushing play on this song when the gun goes off. THIS IS ALSO MY JAM, YOU GUYS.

So now that I’ve made myself look like I an honest-to-god OCD sufferer with horrific taste in music, I hope that you’ll let me know what you listen to when you workout. Tell me in the comments what’s the most embarrassing song on your playlist!

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