Music is a powerful thing isn’t it? One moment it can have you up, dancing like an absolute loon, a big euphoric smile plastered across your chops, and the next it can have you in floods of tears from a poignant reminder of a sad moment in your past. We listen to music to relax, to keep us company, to have as background sound, to cheer us up, to get ready for a night out, to sing along to, to dance to, to motivate us, to help inspire us and, as I have personally discovered, music to keep you going when you run or workout.
The fear of not being able to fully hear what was going on around me combined with the fact that I have oddly shaped ear holes and struggled to get ear buds to stay in meant I didn’t ran with music when I first started. But when I started to venture out more on my own, I realised I needed a distraction; something to keep me going. And music it turns out was the answer. Because everyone has their off days. Those days when you really don’t feel like exercising. Or you’re halfway through a workout and you feel like giving up because you’re sweating buckets and This Morning’s on in a minute and you’d quite like to see what Holly’s wearing that day. Or you’re out on a run and a whopping great big hill comes looming up in front of you and every inch of your mind is yelling at you, telling you to turn round and run back home. It’s those moments when listening to a particular piece of music can make all the difference.
And when you get really clever with your playlists, you can start to think not just about the ones that uplift you and make you feel good, but you can also work out which ones help to set your pace. Fast-tempo sounds that exceed 120 beats per minute (BPM) are recommended for high-intensity workouts and shorter distance runs, whereas music with less than 120 BPM are great for more gentle workouts and the longer runs.
I certainly notice a difference in how I run and how much effort I put into a workout in relation to what song I’m listening to. When a beat kicks in of a song that I absolutely love, woe betide anyone who gets even remotely close to me during a HIIT Boxing sesh in my living room that’s all I can say!
I’ve been meaning to share my ultimate running and workout playlist with you for a while now and whilst I haven’t fully perfected the order in which to play them, I certainly have a few tried and trusted favourites that are guaranteed to keep me going.
Warm Up Tunes
Nothing too speedy, but still needs to be uplifting and have a bit of pep to get me going. My warm up tunes are usually what I like to call ‘build up’ songs, as in they build up to the chorus and then let rip. If I’m at home these are the ones I belt out at the top of my voice, which if I’m being honest is partly down to the fact that I’m still able to breathe!
Marry You (Bruno Mars) – Full on cheese fest, but those lovely piano chords at the beginning and the musical theatre style singing is just everything I could want from a song. The very moment this comes on a smile spreads across my face and I start waltzing across the floor of my living room. Also surprisingly good when you’re running on a particularly boring stretch, where there’s not much to look at and you just need to pace your way through it.
Summer (Calvin Harris) – Heaven knows we need a song like this what with all this rain we’ve been having! The chorus is the one and if anything is gonna get your muscles warmed up, it’s this.
What About Us (Pink) – This soaring belter of a number has warmed me up more times than I can remember. It’s another builder upper and is fab at powering my legs up to get me through the slog of the initial first mile, which any runner will tell you is an absolute beast.
Green Light (Lorde) – I prefer to listen to this when I’m working out at home rather than when out running, because although the chorus has a good strong beat to it the verse is a bit slow and drifty. This is the song that will get me adding an extra wiggle to my warm up, it gets me freestyling my stretches and adds a bit of pizazz to my squats – good job I keep the curtains pulled shut!
Tunes To Get You To The Top Of That Hill
Dog Days Are Over (Florence + The Machine) – This one always reminds me of my daughter (her name is Florence) and I just love how it starts out all floaty and instrumental before kicking in to almighty hand clapping, drums and full on belt it out singing. Kinda like when you’re faced with that hill. You start out all slow, pacing yourself, a little bit apprehensive of what’s looming in front of you and then suddenly it gets hard, and you get angry, and you’re sweating, and it hurts. So you pump your arms, you dig deep and you damn well get up that sod off great big hill….. and then collapse.
Flames (David Guetta & Sia) – If ever there was a song created to help you fulfil a challenge it’s this one. With lyrics that include: ‘one foot in front of the other’, ‘ just keep moving’, ‘figure it out don’t stop moving’, ‘you can do this’, ‘don’t stop running’, ‘gotta get through today’ it was made for runners. It’s the perfect positive running song and keeps me going every… single… time!
Adventure of a Lifetime (Coldplay) – There’s just something about when those uplifting melodies kick in at the beginning that puts fire in my belly, a smile on my face, and a giant boost of energy into my feet and it feels AMAZING!
Pumping Beats To Get The Energy Flowing
Good Feeling (Flo Rida) – A song that’s entitled ‘Good Feeling’ is already winning, right?! It’s packed full of feel good, positive vibes and when the rap bit kicks in it always makes me feel proper gangster.
Waiting All Night (Rudimental) – The way this song builds up is just incredible and I have definitely pulled out some PB’s when I’ve had this blaring in my lugholes.
Take Me Out (Franz Ferdinand) – This is great for when you’re pounding the pavements or following a cardio routine, as the beat is just right for helping you set pace and to create a rhythm.
Hot Right Now (DJ Fresh feat. Rita Ora) – This is amazing for high energy workouts, especially ones that involve a lot of boxing moves like punching and high kicks.
Music To Make You Feel Invincible
This is Me (Keala Settle & The Greatest Showman Ensemble) – I mean do I really need to explain this one? It’s awesome. End of.
Pretty Girl (Maggie Linderman) – The ultimate female empowerment song. If ever you’re feeling bad about yourself, this is exactly the pick you up and shake it off shit you need.
Songs That Always Make Me Smile
Counting Stars (One Republic) – This is one of my all time favourite songs EVER. I just love it! This is the one that has me dancing round my living room, singing full pelt, thinking I’m all that. Always makes me add a wiggle to my workout and will shift a shitty mood in seconds.
Promises (Calvin Harris & Sam Smith) – Makes me feel like I’m cooler than I am, and that makes a smug smile creep across my face no matter what exercise I’m doing.
Wake Me Up (Avicii) – It’s a bit gypsy wedding but I kinda like that about it. It makes me lift my knees higher, swing my arms wider and all with a ginormous grin on my chops.
Nothing Breaks Like a Heart (Mark Ronson feat. Miley Cyrus) – I love the Dolly Parton esque vibe to this and this is another one that makes me feel like I’m totally cool and down with the kids purely through the act of listening to it.
Shut Up And Dance (Walk The Moon) – Ahhh this is a lively little number, that gets me strutting my stuff and doing that horrible shouty singing that tends to only come out when I’ve either had a few or when I can’t get my breath. Makes you feel alive!
Tunes To Cool Down And Stretch With
Budapest (George Ezra) – For some reason this always makes me think about riding a bicycle through some strange and mysterious foreign land. Not sure why, but I love it and it always makes me a feel a bit warm and glowy inside, which is a fab combo with those post workout endorphins rushing around inside me.
These Days (Rudimental) – This song feels like a congratulatory pat on the back. Your own personal cheerleading song – yay go you for doing your workout!
I’ll Be There (Jess Glynne) – It’s the yodelling, you gotta love a bit of yodelling when you’re stretching right? 😉
Somersault (Zero 7 feat. Sia) – This was mine and my husband’s first dance song at our wedding and even now when I hear it, it gives me goosebumps. I absolutely love it and 100% gives me the feels.
Destiny (Zero 7 feat. Sia & Sophie Barker) – When I sing this I basically think I’m Sia. No other justification needed!
Looking Our For Recommendations
Over time even your most favourite of tunes can start to get a bit repetitive and lose a bit of their oomph, so it’s a good idea to freshen up your playlists and introduce new music every now and then. I’m always interested in hearing what other people listen to when they run – I know some people rave about podcasts and although I have given them a go it just doesn’t work as well for me (although maybe I just haven’t listened to the right ones yet!). It would be great if you could share some of your best tunes to workout or run to in the comments below, to help not just me but also each other, so that we can build a library of recommended music. I can’t wait to hear what makes it onto your playlist 🙂