Chucking together a running playlist on the fly can be dangerous. Pumped up and eager to get moving, you throw a few favourite songs on a list, load it up and go. But not every song – no matter how much you love it – is good to run to.
Here are the eight most-regretted additions to my playlist, and how you can do better.
8. Snow Patrol – Run
With a title like that, you can see how ‘Run’ ended up on my playlist. I was in a hurry, it was in my starred songs list and I didn’t really think about what the actual song was like. Needless to say, when this plodded into my ears, my momentum did a swan dive, and my workout ended before the song did.
7. My Chemical Romance – Welcome to the Black Parade
Picturing the big, fist-pumping peak of the song, I totally forgot that the rest of it is all over the place. A slow start, about six tempo changes and a big breakdown section, plus a load of emo lyrics that didn’t exactly boost my spirit (“Though you’re broken and defeated, your weary widow marches on.” MOTIVATING!). The military drumbeat is great for keeping pace and feeling like you’re part of a marching band, but there’s too much going on – and it really does go on. Less of a parade, more of a funeral march. Skipped.
6. Beyoncé – Single Ladies
This one’s got great pace and tempo, with buckets of attitude and motivation. So why’s it no good for running? Because I can’t not dance to it. Seriously. I was running along doing silly little head-bobs and hip-checks and people definitely noticed. Too catchy. Next!
5. Sexy and I Know It – LMFAO
I don’t know what I was thinking. I guess I imagined I’d strut down the street feeling invincible and sweaty-sexy, despite not actually liking this song very much. I thought it’d be motivating and – yeah – a bit funny. But in reality I just got really, really paranoid someone would overhear it on my headphones and think I had terrible taste in music. And then I couldn’t focus on running ‘til I’d skipped it.
4. Maroon 5 – Harder to Breathe
I love this song and it’s on most of my playlists, so it’s only natural that it found its way onto the running one, too. It’s a good mid-tempo song for the bits in between spurts, or so I thought. What actually happened was that the line “It’s getting harder and harder to breathe” set me off thinking about my breathing, which made me switch over to manual instead of automatic breathing (sorry if that sentence just did the same to you, but misery loves company), and then I started obsessing about whether I sounded really out of breath to everyone else. Which I probably did because I was gasping like a weirdo trying to breathe ‘normally’. Sigh.
3. Bruno Mars – Runaway Baby
I need to stop adding songs with ‘run’ in the title, clearly, but I quite like songs syncing up with what I’m doing. So I pictured myself legging it down the road, humming along to “run, run, run away, run away baby”. It usually doesn’t matter whether I like a song or not – if it’s got the right pace, I can run to it. But as soon as this came on, I remembered how much I can’t stand Bruno Mars. Ugh. Delete, delete, delete.
2. Junior Senior – Move Your Feet
Everyone loves this retro tune, and again it syncs up with the act of running, which pleases my inner soundtrack artist. It’s a good speed, it makes me happy, and I can even suppress the urge to dance with this one. So what’s the problem? It reminds me enormously of uni, so I got all nostalgic, called up a mate and went out for a post-run reminiscing session. Which turned into a post-run drinking session, undoing all my good work. Damn you, party tune!
1. Eminem – Lose Yourself
As I dragged this one to the playlist, I pictured that bit in the music video where Slim Shady’s getting all hyped and punchy, psyching himself up to be awesome. “That could be me!” I thought optimistically.
Well, I let the song off for its relatively slow start (it can be a proper pain when you’ve just had a great blood-pumping song and the next intro is lacklustre) and got into it. Yeah, pounding the pavement to the beat, this is good. Wait. Why is that guy looking at me? And that woman? Oh lordy. I was whisper-rapping again, wasn’t I?
I shouldn’t be allowed outside.
How to choose better running songs than me
I was going to make a Spotify playlist of this article for you, but then I realised it’d be useless. So instead, check out fellow writer Sadie Hale’s post about the link between exercise and music. In the meantime, here’s my advice for making a running playlist that doesn’t suck:
- Listen to the whole track before you go out. Sudden tempo changes and forgotten slow intros about are vexingly common.
- Focus less on songs you like and more on songs that work. As long as you vaguely know the tune and it has the right kind of energy, you won’t care that it’s not your ~Favourite Song In The World~ when you’re pegging it round the park.
- No Bruno Mars. Ever.