Part of me has always wanted to be one of those people who can run in relative quiet, taking in the sounds of her own breathing and the cadence of footsteps. Something about that seems so dedicated — as if being completely tuned in to a run would make me a more serious athlete. But that’s just not the kind of runner I am, so I rely on songs to help me run faster.
When I run, I need to be pumped up by some kind of external force, preferably one coming out of my earbuds (you know, as opposed to being chased). And I'm not alone. Both on running paths and at races, I've noticed that now more than ever, the majority of runners wear headphones. The fact is that for many of us, listening to uptempo music is motivating and makes running easier. More specifically, it makes running fast easier. Think about when you're trotting along and your favorite Beyoncé song comes on. You speed up almost involuntarily.
When putting together awesome workout playlists, I have two rules. First, no sticking to just one genre. Otherwise, things get too repetitive, which makes me zone out and slow down. I like to switch it up. The second rule is pretty obvious: No matter the genre, songs must be upbeat.
Keeping that in mind, here's a roundup of my favorite songs for running — fast.
1. HOLYCHILD, "Running Behind"
Warning: you may end up attempting parkour tricks along your neighborhood running route. (Or at least, that's the visual you'll have in your head as you pick up the pace.)
2. Interpol, "All The Rage Back Home"
Here's your requisite rock jam. The fast drumming and lively chorus on this one will propel you during a tempo run.
3. Nicki Minaj, "Trini Dem Girls"
I'm not sure why, but this bouncy dance number makes me feel like I'm at a party on the beach surrounded by Tiki torches.
4. Carly Rae Jepson, "Run Away With Me"
Sometimes, when I know I'm approaching the final stretch of a run, I skip through my iPod just to get to this track. "Baby! Take me! To the! Feeling!" *sprints to the finish line*
5. Best Coast, "Feeling OK"
If you're dealing with any minor aches or tiredness, the sunshine-filled chorus on this song will have you convinced otherwise.
6. We Were Promised Jetpacks, "Quiet Little Voices"
This one's for the gotta-go-sweat-out-my-problems runs, which often turn out to be my best.
Download "Quiet Little Voices" on iTunes here.
7. Sky Ferreira, "I Will"
Of Sky Ferreira's many energetic electro-pop jams, this is my favorite for running, thanks to its quick tempo and urgent vocals.
8. Major Lazer feat. Wild Belle, "Be Together"
Pretty much any Major Lazer track works, and this happens to be in my current rotation.
9. A$AP Rocky feat. Skrillex, "Wild For The Night"
Here's a cross-genre banger that really gets the blood flowing.
10. Tokyo Police Club, "Tessellate"
Unless I'm going up an exceptionally steep hill, this jumpy song easily puts a smile on my face.
11. Skrillex and Diplo feat. Justin Bieber, "Where Are Ü Now"
If you want to ignore all of my previous suggestions, just go ahead and play this on a loop. Bieber's collaboration with Skrillex and Diplo is an EDM anthem that'll have you logging your fastest miles yet.
12. Flume feat. T-Shirt, "On Top"
This electro-dancehall track almost makes me wish I could breakdance. I'll probably stick to running, though.
13. Icona Pop, "First Time"
Hyper-catchy dance songs are a must on any and all workout playlists. I think we can all agree that Icona Pop are the undisputed queens of that niche.
14. Grace feat. G-Eazy, "You Don't Own Me"
Almost as good as the original from Dirty Dancing.
15. Bloc Party, "One Month Off"
Guaranteed to get your heart rate up. I've never been able to sit still while listening to this song.
16. Kendrick Lamar, "Backseat Freestyle"
That beat and Kendrick's skillful flow are undeniable. Taylor Swift agrees.
17. MisterWives, "Our Own House"
Because you're going to need an indie-pop jam or two (or three).
18. Beastie Boys, "Sabotage"
A perennial favorite, here's another for the angst-ridden runs.
19. Beyoncé, "Countdown"
The counting in this one reminds me that I'm getting closer to the end of my run and to start my kick. As always, thanks for the inspiration, Bey!
20. Vampire Weekend, "Diane Young"
Any song with a chorus that goes "Baby, baby, baby, baby ..." gets an A+ in my book.
Download "Diane Young" on iTunes here.
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