Music I run to

I don’t listen to music when I run outdoors; apart from the safety aspects (especially on country lanes), I find there is more than enough going on to keep my senses engaged and I particularly enjoy the sounds of running: birdsong; footsteps landing on different surfaces (tarmac, pavement, water; gravel, dirt, rock); the wind as it passes through trees or buildings, at times a gentle breeze, others with a bite to it; even the silence of open spaces, on the rare occasions I encounter it. But on a treadmill I find I can’t do without my running playlist. Even though I always try to get on one of the treadmills by the window, so I can look down over the fields and at least see (if not feel) the changing weather and light. And while there is always some energetic, “workout compilation” being pumped through the gym speakers, my headphones (and an indulgent dose of daydreaming!) have become as indispensible to me for indoor running as my footpod is (and arguably as unnecessary on a treadmill that will tell you your distance & pace, with canned music in the background).

Like most of my playlists, my running compilation is… a diverse affair let’s say, and contains a bit of everything – I had originally intended to give examples of genres, but classifications fail me: It’s all about the energy of each song, the beat (I use this playlist for hard runs, on the rare occasion I do a long run on a treadmill I put something else on) and most subjectively of all, whether it “inspires” me (“helps” would be a better word I suppose) to squeeze that little extra bit of speed and power from failing limbs!

Some of the songs I particularly enjoy listening to while I run are:

Me Llaman Calle (Manu Chao) – let’s ease into it, shall we? Good for a warm up or to drag concentration back. It’s also one of the few songs on this playlist that I would listen to on a long treadmill run as well.


The Mercy Seat (Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds) –no matter how bad you think you feel during your workout, you can’t beat this – so keep it up!


People Who Died (The Jim Carroll Band) – It matches my ideal speedwork cadence perfectly: it’s become favourite for very fast sections, and it somehow reminds me to maintain form rather than bounce all over the tredmill!


Busca Ritmo (Imam Baildi et al) – More of a “gearing up” song, it’s good for relaxing into the run (you can take the boy out of freediving, but you can’t take the freediver out of the boy!); helpful to maintain momentum on a longer run or to help me start raising the pace.


Paper Plane (Status Quo) – Need I say more?


Uprising (Muse) – a new addition to the list, it too is probably a “settle into the run” song. We’ll see if it’s here to stay…


Un Altro Giorno E’ Andato – Live Edit (Francesco Guccini): some days it tells me “come on mate, your workout’s almost done” and on others “hurry up if you want that PB, you aren’t getting any younger you know!” – in either case it never fails to get me pick the pace up. Best used as a “last sprint” song.


I Believed In You (Skunk Anansie) – again, a passionate song with the perfect beat for a fast rep; and there is something about the stregth of feeling in the lyrics and delivery, the anger, dissappointment and “I’m going to get you for what you did” emotion that makes you pump it!


Spitfire (Public Service Broadcasting): “the birds fly a lot better than we do” / “some day I’m going to build a plane that flies just like a bird” – and some day I’m going to run just like one of those Kenyans…


Liomeno Pagoto (Xilina Spathia): “κάποιος κοιτάει την ώρα” (beat to get your cadence in tune with) “κάποιος στον δρόμο τρέχει” Apologies to non-English speakers, but if you haven’t jumped along to this in your youth, you haven’t experienced the instant burst of energy that gives life to an exhausted runner!


The Truth About Love (Pink): I suppose you’d call this a guilty pleasure. But it’s another song that helps me inject that extra little bit of strength into my run – and (when you are listening to it on a tredmill) it could as well be called “The Truth About Running” – it hurts, it can generate strong emotions and it’s more often sweaty than glamorous – but absolutely worth sticking with!

So, now that I have shared, it’s your turn: do you run with music? what are your favourite running songs? Have you a power tune? Let us know in the comments section below…

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