How to create your ultimate running playlist

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Have a look on any music platform and you’ll find thousands of playlists claiming they’re the ‘best’, the ‘ultimate’ or that they’ll enhance your performance.

But what’s the science behind a great set of running tunes, and where can you get some inspiration for new music to keep your running playlists fresh?

Read on to find out…

Tempo, tempo, tempo

Songs with powerful rhythms are great for running to, but what does a powerful rhythm actually mean? The answer is all about BPM, or beats per minute.

Scientifically speaking, 120-125 beats per minute is great for a steady-paced jog, or you can up it to 140-145 beats per minute if you’re going for all-out sprint effort.

You can search specifically for particular BPM songs and playlists on platforms like Spotify but, for quick reference, songs like Adele’s Rumour Has It, The Police’s Every Little Thing She Does It Magic and New Rules by Dua Lipa all come in at around the magic 120 BPM mark.


To think or not to think?

If you think about your running performance and tie your running songs into the experience, you’re what’s called an ‘associator’. That means you can use your BPM knowledge plus your running likes and dislikes and combine them to create the perfect playlist.

So, for example: know that you prefer to blast it out for the first 5k and then take the second nice and steady? Use that knowledge. Choose songs at 135-140 BPM for the first section of your training run or event and then scale back to 120 BPM for the second to keep your legs pumping and your motivation high.

If you’re a dreamy runner who likes your mind to wander, you’re more of a ‘dissociator’. For this type of runner, experts recommend putting BPM to one side and focusing instead on songs with powerful emotional associations and positive memories.

Turn up the volume: no one else can hear – or judge – your guilty pleasures.

Great Run recommends

Need some inspiration to get you started? Look no further. We’ve found ten top running songs from genres including rock, pop and dance to get your ultimate running playlist going – and they’re all 120 BPM or above.

1) All My Life – Foo Fighters

2) Break Free – Ariana Grande, Zedd

3) Come on! The Hives

4) Play Hard – David Guetta, Ne-Yo, Akon

5) Uprising – Muse

6) Run the World (Girls) – Beyoncé

7) Pump It – Black Eyed Peas

8) Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes

9) Hey Ya! – Outkast

10) Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting – Elton John

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