Playlists, Yo!

They always say not to try anything new on race dayand while I know they are talking about wearing a new pair of sneakers or eating a new food, I am going to extend that into trying out a brand new playlist.  Now, I know what you are thinking:massive, bloody blisters and pooping your pants are pretty severe consequences compared to simply not liking a song- and I totally agree.  But if music motivates you to run, keeps you going, and pumps you up the way it does me then having a carefully built playlist will make any run seem more enjoyable and add to your racing experience.

Here are my tips to making a killer race-day playlist:

1) Consider why you are running.

  • I think it is most important to think about what you are running for.  My playlists on a “regular” run vary from slower paced music like John Mayer to music with a faster pace like anything Black-Eyed Peas.  If I want to run slow I listen to slower music, if I want to pick it up I listen to faster music.  I usually am not running to beat/create a PR or to win so I let my playlist take on the natural progression of a run: start off slow, build up power, then cool down.  The website JogTunes is an awesome resource to find the BPM (beats per minute) of songs.  You can use it to taylor a playlist to whatever you want your pace to be.

2) Scope out some new music on the radio.

  • When I listen to the radio I usually am listening for new (or new to me) songs that could be potential candidates.  Often times I find that hip-hop and rock songs have a great beat to them and I can imagine my feet moving with it.  Usually I end up You-Tubing the entire song and deciding if it is worth putting on a playlist.
3) Ask for suggestions.
  • Asking other runners for playlist music is a great idea.  One thing you may find, however is that their taste in running music doesn’t suit yours.  I always accept song suggestions or CD playlists and give them a try.  My friend Amy had once given me a playlist that included The Kings of Leon who I don’t really care for, but they ended up being a great running band!
4) Put the songs in an order that build up your pace gradually and carries you through the end of your run.
  • When racing you need to hold yourself back from going all out at the beginning.  Slow and steady wins the race!  Choosing music that will keep you moving at a slower pace is one way to help prevent you from the starting-sprint.  You spend a lot of your time at the beginning of races (especially longer races) weaving in and out of crowds and taking in the environment so pick music that will help make this part of the race less frantic.
  1. Dave Matthews “Two Step” (super long)
  2. Kings of Leon “Closer”
  3. The Killers “Human”, “Read My Mind”, and “All These Things I Have Done”
  4. Timbaland ft. Katy Perry “If we Ever Meet Again”
  5. Mike Posner “Cooler Than Me”
  • When you get about halfway through the race, and you start picking up your pace, make sure that your playlist does the same.  I like music that I can listen too, and possibly sing to, but haven’t heard over and over.  I try to stay away from “ear worms” that will never get out of my head as well.  No one wants to be singing
  1.  Akon “Beautiful”
  2.  Katy Perry ft. Kanye West “E.T”
  3. MGMT “Time to Pretend”
  4. Ke$ha “Blow”
  5. Craig David “Insomnia”
  • And don’t forget to add in those Power Songs.  You know the ones that make you feel invincible?  Putting these towards the end of a playlist, when I am more likely to need a boost, and turing them up LOUD really gets my feet pumping.  Finish line here I come!
  1. Eminem “Till I Collapse”
  2. Lady Gaga “Born This Way”
  3. J Lo ft. Pit Bull “On the Floor”
  4. Jay-Z and Alicia Keys “Empire State of Mind”

(I had to keep my suggestion to 5 per section because I would be writing this section forever!)

5) Try it out!

  • Once you have carefully selected and placed songs on they playlist take it out on a training run with you.  I mean, you wouldn’t buy a car without a test drive right?! ;) Sometimes songs just don’t fit the playlist, don’t hold your interest, or aren’t good “running songs”.  Many songs I have put on playlists during races immediately bring up racing memories (mostly good, some bad) after and sometimes they even get me motivated to go for a spontaneous run!

Other questions I like to ask myself:

What kind of mood am I in?
Why am I running? (to P.R? for fun?)

How much motivation do I need?

Now I know music choice is highly subjective, and songs I listen to during a run may not toot your horn, but I am sure you know as well as I do that a killer playlist can make all the difference.


What are your beginning of the run songs? Pump you up songs?  Power songs?  

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