Culture, Life, Living, Music, Wellness

Workout Playlist for Runners

As a runner, I know pacing is everything. As a musician, I know timing is everything. By combining two of my passions, I was able to come up with the best possible workout playlists for my fitness journey. The music you choose to listen to while running or working out can impact your timing and the amount of effort you put forward. Ultimately, this comes down to the tempo or beats per minute (bpm). If you have ever caught yourself tapping your foot or clapping along to a song, you are following the tempo, otherwise known as “keeping time.” Your brain wants to keep time with the music you are listening to, and you can use that to your advantage. For example, if you want to keep a 9 minute mile pace for two miles straight, your music should be roughly 160 bpm, or 80 bpm running double time, or twice as fast.

The lists composed below are samples of my personal running playlists – which also fit seamlessly into my general workout music. I don’t have a lot of restrictions on what I listen to, and I refrained from including musical theatre numbers. Not all running music has to be dance music, and slow songs are okay, too, if you run double time. I tested every one of these playlists. The total time is the length of the playlist, average 25 minutes. The total distance is how far I made it keeping time with my music. These runs were completed on a track, not on a treadmill.

12 Minute Mile (~130 bpm)

*~65 bpm double time

Total Time: 27:15

Total Distance: 2.2 miles

Titanium by David Guetta & Sia

Meant to Live by Switchfoot

Kings and Queens by Thirty Seconds to Mars

September by Earth, Wind, and Fire

(You’re the) Devil in Disguise by Elvis Presley

Neon by John Mayor

10 Minute Mile (~150 bpm)

*~75 bpm

Total Time: 25:51

Total Distance: 2.5 miles

Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) by Kelly Clarkson

Harder to Breathe by Maroon 5

Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen

Blown Away by Carrie Underwood

Should I Stay or Should I Go by The Clash

I Gotta Feeling by The Black Eyed Peas

9 Minute Mile (~160 bpm)

*~80 bpm

Total Time: 26:14

Total Distance: 2.9 miles

Bitter Sweet Symphony by The Verve

Demon by Imagine Dragons

Fly Away by Lenny Kravitz

My Songs Know What You Did In the Dark (Light Em Up) by Fall Out Boy

Mr. Brightside by The Killers

Shake It Off by Taylor Swift

I Saw Her Standing There by The Beatles

8 Minute Mile (~170 bpm)

*~85 bpm double time

Total Time: 25:32

Total Distance: 3.1 miles

The Golden Age by The Asteroids Galaxy Tour

Swept Inside by Future Islands

Let’s Build A Home by The White Stripes

Runnin’ Down A Dream by Tom Petty

Not Fair by Lily Allen

Too Too Too Fast by Ra Ra Riot

Good Life [clean] by Kanye West & T-Pain


There are also a lot of resources on music apps like iHeartRadio, Spotify, and Apple Music. Fair warning though, the “running” feature on most of these apps is set to match your running pace, instead of you keeping up with the music. There are so many genres and styles of music to choose from. When it comes to workouts and music, ultimately you decide what works best for you.

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