Create the Perfect Running Playlist!

Coach Casey · July 7, 2021

Music can have an incredibly powerful effect on our emotions. It can cause intense memory recall. Most importantly, for all of us runners out there, our running music can motivate! With the right playlist of songs, you can stay on pace, stay motivated, stay distracted, and push far past your expected point of exhaustion. In order to create the perfect running playlist though, you need to follow a few key guidelines. Not all songs are created equal when it comes to running. Do I love “Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley? Of course! Would I want to listen to it while I run? Absolutely not, it’s much better suited for a nap.

Lucky for you, all the professional running coaches at Charge Running are also experts in the art of running playlists. Despite our unique styles and preferences, we always create playlist that HIT through every single track. So with that, we’ve compiled a tried and true list of guidelines/rules to stick to in order to create the perfect running playlist. 

Oh, and as a little bonus, we’ve included a PERFECT Running Playlist Starter Kit for you as well! Enjoy!

Running music and playlists can make or break a workout!

4 Tips to Create the Perfect Running Playlist! 

1. Focus on Positive Lyrics

Song tempo or pace may seem like the most important element of song selection for creating the perfect running playlist, but lyrics are important too. Choose running music with positive lyrics. Lyrics that exude a powerful, “Go-Get-‘Em” spirit are the best. Whether you’re fully listening to the lyrics or not, your subconscious will pick up on the positive, strong, motivating lyrics and that’ll help you through a hard run. Think “Hey Look Ma, I Made It” by Panic! At the Disco.

2. Find the Perfect Tempo

Yes, you want fast songs, but you don’t want them to be too fast. Not surprisingly, the tempo or speed of a song in terms of beats per minute (BPM) effects running speed. While some runners are more susceptible to matching their running speed with that of a song, an ideal BPM is still important for all. Creating the perfect running playlist is normally going to consist of songs with a BPM between 120 and 145. For those really looking to roll a bit faster, and who are more likely to match the exact song beat with their strides, aim for 150 to 180 BPM. “1901” by Phoenix hits a beautiful 144 BPM!

Create the perfect running playlist!

3. Pick the Right Sounds

Instrumentals and sounds within the song are also an important element to consider when creating the perfect running playlist. The right timbre of an instrument, it’s sound or tone quality, can make a huge difference when you’re exhausting yourself during a run or workout. Pick running music that feature bright, energizing instrumental tones. These songs could include the alto saxophone, electric guitar, synthesizers, or even a harmonica. The classic runner’s song “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen hits a lot of these bright notes! Or for that matter, Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark.”

4. Build into the Songs

Similar to a good run or workout, the perfect running playlist should progress steadily from start to finish. You don’t want to start your run listening to the highest energy song and end with a slow, melodic ballad. In order to create that perfect running playlist you’ll want to order it purposefully. Start with a powerful yet lower BPM song (maybe around 120 BPM). Towards the end of a run, when you really need an extra boost, bring it home with the songs that REALLY get you going. Consider starting with something like “Good as Hell” by Lizzo and wrapping things up with “Hum Hallelujah” by Fall Out Boy

5. Match the Running Playlist to Your Workout

Last, but certainly not least, be sure to pick the right playlist for your planned run or workout. You’ll want to have a few different running playlists ready to go. Create multiple perfect playlists of running music for a variety or situations. You’ll likely want to listen to something different on a long run than you will during a fartlek or threshold workout. Keep your song library stocked and ready!

The PERFECT Running Playlist Starter Kit:

  1. War Paint by FLETCHER
  2. ME! by Taylor Swift (ft. Brendon Urie)
  3. Quarter-Life Crisis by Judah & the Lion
  4. Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) by Kelly Clarkson
  5. Inner Ninja by Classified (ft. David Myles)
  6. Let’s Go On The Run by Chance the Rapper (ft. Knox Fortune)
  7. Best Song Ever by One Direction
  8. I Wanna Get Better by Bleachers
  9. OCD by Fitz and The Tantrums
  10. Good Girls by Elle King
  11. i by Kendrick Lamar
  12. Let’s Run Away by Matt & Kim
  13. The Middle by Jimmy Eat World
  14. Are You Gonna Be My Girl by Jet
  15. London Queen by Charli XCX
  16. Check Yes Juliet by We The Kings
  17. Stronger by Kanye West
  18. 123456 by Fitz and The Tantrums
  19. Get It by Matt & Kim

Want to get in a great, live, professionally coached virtual run/workout with a fire playlist and teammates from around the world? Join Charge Running and get access to amazing music, great workouts, and expert coaching TODAY!

Comments 0

Download Charge Running today!

Access unlimited LIVE and on-demand classes for just $20 a month when you subscribe annually! Includes a 7-day free trial.