Best Running Music Ever: #1 & #2 — Marathon mixes for a 7 – 10.5 min pace (140 – 190 bpm)

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by John on July 3, 2009

Disclaimer: I am not a runner…but, I am the husband of a runner (Monica).  Her 4:30am wake up calls still find me sleeping happily, thank you.  But I do enjoy music and making running music playlists for her training.  I did some research to understand the runner’s pace/BPM (beats per minute) relationship and how music can help you run faster (if you have the “right” music and music you enjoy!).  These songs were carefully selected for running a marathon (but will work well for just running training or exercising). The pace (BPM) starts off slower in first few songs, then builds up to a faster cadence. Both lists should cover the majority of a marathon as Jamie’s Mix has approx 2.7 hrs and Monica’s Mix has 2.3 hrs of music.So here is my initial effort.  The first is for Jamie at a 9.5-10.5 min/mile pace (2.5 hours of music).  Monica’s is a little faster at a 7-8 min/mile pace (2.3 hours of music).

If you have a song that you love to use when running or working out, please share (either comment below our thru twitter @boldpacemusic)! If it is 140 – 180 bpm and meets our song “standards” below, we’ll add it to our next running or workout playlist and link back to your site with a big
thank you :)

All songs below meet our standard of being either about fitness/running, inspirational, or at least fun with a great beat (we don’t add songs with potentially uninspiring lyrics…ie. “19th Nervous Breakdown”, “Loser”, “Blister in the Sun” — all great songs, but not exactly motivational for running or fitness). I made some comments about why songs were included below. For over 60+ hrs more of running and workout music, go to home page at Bold Pace Music.

Running with music that has too slow of a beat can cause a problem with your pace.   You may unconsciously slow to the pace of the song.   “Eye of the Tiger” is a great motivational song, but at 109 BPM (Beats Per Minute) it is way too slow for most runners. Getting the “right” BPM for your pace may take some trial and error as each runner has a different stride length (which also may vary based on pace). For a well done chart showing BPM by mile pace for walking, running, and cycling… see Exercise Pacing & Use of Music.

Wondering if music can really improve your performance? We give links to several studies and discuss in more detail at our Bold Pace Music home page.

Running Greeting Cards

Marathon Mantras CD Tin Notecard Set (6 cards, 2 of each style for $15 at remanents.com)

Looking for a perfect gift for a runner? Take some music below and slip it in with a running CD tin notecard set from Remanents. These cards, gifts, and tees have been sold at Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Anthropologie, Nordstroms, Henri Bendel, Fortnum and Mason (London) and many other fine stores, however, you’ll find the largest selection at www.remanents.com. See more running cards and tees along with beautiful Couture Fabric Holiday cards and Halloween cards too.

I hope you enjoy this ultimate running music playlist

Best Running Music — Jamie’s Mix: 140 – 160 BPM
(for runners w/ mile pace of 9.5 – 10.5 minutes)

Click here to download part 1 of songs from itunes

Click here to download part 2 of songs from itunes

Click on images below to play samples and/or download songs from amazon:

To get this music, just click on either itunes or amazon playlist above and download either entire the playlist or individual songs. Or see our Amazon store for the very best full albums by artists on the playlists.

Songs (w/ BPM):

  1. Bang a Gong (Get it On) – T. Rex (126):  Great inspirational start w/ “Get it On” and “You’re built like a car…oh yeah!”
  2. Clint Eastwood – Gorillaz (130):  Continuing the “you are strong” mantra from T. Rex, Gorillaz invoke tough-guy Clint Eastwood and declare “I’m happy, feeling glad, I got sunshine in a bag”.
  3. Bohemian Like You – The Dandy Warhols (131):  A little lighter now that you’re moving with “we’re looking pretty cool” and you’re imagining making friends with other runners “what do you do? Oh yeah, I wait tables too…”.
  4. Can’t Wait – Big Audio Dynamite (134):  A continuation of the funky Clash from “Combat Rock” with former Clash singer/songwriter Mick Jones forming B.A.D.  A great beat and chorus that makes you want to go with  “I just can’t wait any longer…”.
  5. Let’s Spend the Night Together – Rolling Stones (140):  Keeping it light and fun at the beginning with “but I try, try, try”.
  6. Blinded by the Light – Manfred Mann’s Earth Band (141):  What could be more appropriate than “Revved up like a deuce, another runner in the night”?  You can also enjoy listening to “some brimstone baritone anti-cyclone rolling stone preacher from the east” and just try to understand anything else they are talking about with these bizarre lyrics.
  7. The Boy with the Arab Strap – Belle and Sebastian (141):  This critically acclaimed Scottish indie-pop band may get more well known when front-man Stuart Murdoch’s movie “God Help the Girl” gets released.  In the meantime, this catchy beat will keep you going.
  8. The Mayor of Simpleton – XTC (141):  Perhaps my favorite all-time band, frontmen Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding provide a great follow-up to Belle and Sebastian with another catchy beat.  A great, well-written love song is always welcome on a run.
  9. Low Rider – WAR (142):  “Low Rider is a real goer”…enough said.
  10. Lump – The Presidents of the United States (142):  Just a fun song w/ great beat…”Life limped along at sub-sonic speeds…she’s lump”.
  11. Can’t Stand Losing You – The Police (143):  While it’s another great love song, the line “I can’t stand losing” can also be used as a mantra as the miles go by.
  12. Uncertain Smile - The The (144):  Besides having a great name, this is really Matt Johnson singing and playing all instruments on this great song with the chorus “I’ve got you under my skin where the rain can’t get in, but if the sweat pours out, just shout, I’ll try to swim and pull you out”…interesting thought as you start to build up a sweat.
  13. Cool for Cats – Squeeze (145):  Just keep running and enjoy the English accent on this one.
  14. Lovers in a Dangerous Time - Bruce Cockburn (146):  An under-appreciated singer/songwriter with great lyrics like “got to kick at the darkness ’til it bleeds daylight”.
  15. Clampdown – The Clash (146):  Great song!  One of my favorites by the Clash…enjoy “You don’t owe nothing, so boy (substitute “girl”) get runnin’, it’s the best years of your life they want to steal”.
  16. My Sharona – The Knack (147):  My son always likes to hear this song to get psyched up for a soccer game…should work for running too.
  17. 25 or 6 to 4 – Chicago (147):  Good pick-me up, familiar song with lines like “Should I try to do some more…25 or 6 to 4″.
  18. Change Your Mind - The Killers (147):  Really like this band…enjoy first line “Racey days, help me through the hopeless haze”.
  19. Too Late – Shoes (147):  Shoes–they are the most important gear during a marathon, right?  A favorite 80’s “power-pop” band.  Nothing heavy here, just a light, up-beat, pure power-pop song.
  20. The Headmaster Ritual – The Smiths (148):  A departure from the light-hearted Shoes, the Smiths serve up their usual intellectual, heady fare with a great rhythmic beat.  As you continue to run, enjoy Morrissey’s infectious rant “Belligerent ghouls run Manchester schools spineless bastards all”.
  21. Dakota – Stereophonics (148):  U.K. alternative rock band with similarities to The Kinks, The Replacements, The La’s, etc.  An inspirational chorus with “You made me feel like the one”.
  22. Police on my Back – The Clash (148):  “I been running Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday…”.
  23. Always Something There to Remind Me – Naked Eyes (149):  I know, more of a one-hit wonder pop band, but sometimes you want a bubbly, familiar, fun song at this point in the race or training (at least that’s what Monica tells me!).
  24. Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen (150):  Got have the Boss giving it to you straight.  Can’t live in NJ without loving Bruce.
  25. Message in a Bottle – The Police (150):  Acknowledge that you feel like “An island lost at sea”, but then realize that you’re “not alone in being alone”…feel better?
  26. I Ran - Flock of Seagulls (150):  It’s a little close to the other one-hit wonder band song, but at 150 BPM it just fits here and it’s obviously running appropriate.
  27. Getting Down – The Kills (150): Great band with very original sound.  Enjoy the harmonies, the “aa, aa, aa, ah” chorus and lines like “What’s going on fire, I want you to know my spirit’s alive”.
  28. Radio, Radio - Elvis Costello (150):  “You better listen to the voice of reason”…Elvis is king.
  29. New Shoes – Paolo Nutini (151):  “Hey, I put some new shoes on, and suddenly everything is right”…true, right?
  30. Scorpio Rising – 10,000 Maniacs (151):  Song honoring honesty and Natalie Merchant’s voice will put anyone in a good mood…focus on “Amaze Me Now”.
  31. Spaceman – The Killers (151):  Running this long is about mental toughness, remember “It’s all in your mind”.
  32. Violet Hill - Coldplay (152):  Mix of soft opening and closing with a good beat and enjoy another terrific song by this impressive band.
  33. Live and Let Die – Wings (153): Another song w/ varing beats and arrangements to keep things interesting.  If using this during a marathon race, time to be cutthroat and pass up the competition.
  34. Grey Seal – Elton John (153):  Elton’s best song ever, but not well known.  Nice fast pace and ends with “If the Phoenix bird can fly then so can I”…fly on.
  35. Ooh La – The Kooks (154):  Here’s the verse to focus on “Take care of yourself, don’t begin to lag, it’s a hard life to live, so live it well, I’ll be your friend and not in pretend, I know you girl in all situations”.
  36. Sitting Still – R.E.M (155):  A great song and while you can almost never understand Michael Stipe, just reminder that you are not “sitting still”.
  37. The World I Know - Collective Soul (156):  Another great band that is not well known but if you played their Greatest Hits you’d recognize almost all their songs.  They took their name from a line in Ayn Rand’s book “The Fountainhead”.  Enjoy the inspirational chorus:  “So I walk up on high and I step to the edge to see my world below.  And I laugh at myself as the tears roll down ’cause it’s the world I know”.  You’re running a marathon, it’s OK to be a little emotional.
  38. Blue Orchid - The White Stripes (156):  Just enjoy that guitar.  If this doesn’t get you pumped up, you might need something more than music.
  39. I Melt with You – Modern English (157):  One of those 80’s songs that was fun and inspirational too…”There’s nothing you and I won’t do, I’ll stop the world and melt with you”.
  40. Barely Legal – The Strokes *Explicit Lyrics* (159): By this time, you might just need some explict language.   Remember “I didn’t take no shortcuts”.
  41. Hey Ya! – OutKast (160):  Finishing strong with “You think you got it”!

Best Running Music — Monica’s Mix: 160 – 180 BPM (for runners w/ mile pace of 7 – 8 minutes)

Click here to download part 1 of songs from itunes

Click here to download part 2 of songs from itunes

Click on images below to play samples and/or download songs from amazon:

To get this music, just click on either itunes or amazon playlist above and download either entire the playlist or individual songs. Or see our Amazon store for the very best full albums by artists on the playlists.

Songs (w/ BPM):

  1. Feel Good Inc. – Gorillaz (138):  Start with a great laugh and then enjoy lines like “Take it all in your stride” and “Don’t stop, get it, get it”.
  2. Pump it up – Elvis Costello (140):  “Pump it up until you can feel it.”
  3. Pump it - Black Eyed Peas (157):  Not exactly a lyrical masterpiece, but should be plenty pumped by the end of this song.
  4. Sour Cherry – The Kills (160):  My brother turned me on to this terrific band…enjoy lyrics like: “Oh, make my blood thump 7, 8, 9…Make my heart beat double time”  “Now I’m the only sour cherry on the fruit stand, right?”
  5. What Difference Does it Make? - The Smiths (162): Once again the Smiths perform their patented mix of weighty, foreboding lyrics with a light, pleasant, catchy beat…”but I’m still fond of you”.
  6. The Middle – Jimmy Eat World (163):  An inspirational song with lines like “Just try your best, try everything that you can” and “Everything will be just fine, everything will be alright”.
  7. Paint it Black – Rolling Stones (163):  If “The Middle” was just too damn upbeat and cheery, this should even things out and still keep you rocking along.
  8. One way or Another – Blondie (163):  Continuing the theme from the last 2 songs…one way or another, you just keep running.  And about that runner ahead of you…”I’m gonna getcha, getcha, getcha”.
  9. Whip it – Devo (164):   “Now Whip it, into shape.  Shape it up, get straight.  Go forward, move ahead” and “Whip it good”.
  10. Age of Consent – New Order (165):  You’re strong, you’re an individual, you’re a runner!  “And I’m not the kind that likes to tell you just what you want me to”.
  11. Hard to Explain – The Strokes (165):  A looking for redemption song and ending with “I’ll make it you see”.
  12. When the Sun Goes Down - Arctic Monkeys *Explicit Lyrics* (166):  Love the line “And he told Roxanne to put on her red light, it’s all infected but he’ll be alright cause he’s a scumbag”.  Best on this song to  “Overt your eyes and (keep) staring at the ground.”
  13. How Far We’ve Come – Matchbox 20 (166): Focus on: “I started running but there was no where to run to” and “Let’s see how far we’ve come”.
  14. Amber – 311(167):  “Amber is the color of your energy”, “You ought to know what brings me here you glide through my head blind to fear.”
  15. Private Idaho – B-52’s (168):  Fast beat + fun = B-52’s.
  16. Take on me – A-ha (169):  Watch the other runners and keep thinking…”I’ll be coming for you anyway.”
  17. Runnin’ Down a Dream – Tom Petty (170):  A perfect running song.
  18. A-Punk – Vampire Weekend (170):  A jaunty, up-tempo, almost ska type beat makes this a fun song to run with.
  19. Alone Again Or – The Damned (171):  Great guitar riffs in this song.  Love the change in tempo.
  20. Diamonds and Guns – Transplants *Explicit Lyrics* (172):  Too bad this was a short-lived experiment when punk rock veterans Tim Armstrong (Rancid), Travis Barker (Blink-182), and Rob Aston put together this band in 2002.  This song showcases their talent and gritty style with lyrics like “bombs going off in Sierra Leone, taking more shots than Karl Malone”.
  21. Only a Lad – Oingo Boingo (172):  Former Oingo Boingo lead singer Danny Elfman’s name is now one of Hollywood’s most in-demand film composers.  But Oingo Boingo was at it’s best with some of it’s earlier music including this story of a troubled child in “Only a Lad”.  Enjoy the story and how Elfman ends with “Hey there Johnny boy, I hope you fry!”
  22. Mirror in the Bathroom – The English Beat (172):  Listen and think about how after those long runs the conversation with the Mirror in the Bathroom will be so much better!
  23. Lose Yourself – Eminem (172):  From the movie “8 mile” (which was actually pretty good and Eminem can act…or perhaps he was just being himself).  Anyway, great motivational song… “Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted–one moment–would you capture it or just let it slip?”
  24. Girl U Want - Devo (173):  “Look at you with your mouth watering, look at you with your mind spinnin'”…face paced fun w/ Devo.
  25. I Want You Back - Hoodoo Gurus (175): Simple, fast-paced, w/ great hooks from this band from down under.
  26. New Eyes Open – The Draft *Explict Lyrics* (175): Good running chorus with “And that’s what I like about it, it’s not so complicated if you go right through.”
  27. Dancing with Myself – Billy Idol (178):  Another old familiar song to keep you going during that tough second half of the run.  Billy would never win any poetry contests, but he’ll keep you moving.
  28. Lookin’ after No. 1 - The Boomtown Rats (181):  Lead singer Sir Bob Geldof might be more famous for his humanitarian efforts (remember Band Aid) than for his former band…but the Rats were a great band.  Here’s one of their earlier, fast-paced stellar efforts.
  29. The Obvious Child – Paul Simon (181):  Paul Simon’s considerable storytelling and songwriting abilities are on full display with this great song from the ambitious “The Rhythm of the Saints” in 1990.  With a cool, Brazilian beat listen to Simon’s words and just try to “deny the obvious child.”
  30. Santeria – Sublime (182):  With a great punk/reggae/ska type of beat, Sublime tells you to “Feel the break, feel the break, feel the break…and I gotta live it out.”
  31. Break on Through - Doors (185):  A classic running song with nice, fast pace down the home stretch reminding you to push your limits and “Break on Through to the Other Side”.
  32. Ballroom Blitz – Sweet (194):  Just the start of this song will keep you going…”Alright fellas (substitute ladies) – Let’s Go!”
  33. Don’t Get Me Wrong - Pretenders (200): Getting faster… “They just pass on the street…who can explain the thunder and rain, but there’s something in the air”
  34. Are You Gonna Be My Girl – Jet (209): Another very fast pace toward the end of the run.  This infectious beat should keep you pushing for the finish.
  35. This Charming Man – The Smiths (210):  Just enjoy the bouncy beat courtesy of Johnny Marr.  Coupled with Morrissey’s swooning vocals it’s no wonder this group has such a cult following.
  36. Why Can’t I Be You – The Cure (216):  With lyrics like “I run around in circles ’til I run out of breath, I’ll eat you all up or I’ll just hug you to death”…you can make it to the end.
  37. Beyond Belief – Elvis Costello (186):  One of my favorite Elvis songs, this should help you bring it home.  Perhaps you’ll relate to “I got a feeling I’m going to get a lot of grief, once this seemed so appealing, now I am beyond belief.”

There are a number of ways to get BPM for your music collection.  See this comprehensive post from mmartins.com on BPM detection software.

Want more music? Find over 60 hours of music and playlists all listed with bpm…Bold Pace Music or just see our “100 Best” by clicking image below:

Have any running favorites?  Please comment and share for future playlists…

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