The Best Running Music + My 5 Favorite Playlists

The right running music can make your run more fun and I have the best running music for you. I shared my five go-to Spotify playlists that I’ve used for training runs and races, including the Boston Marathon!

Looking for the best running music? I’ve got you covered. Well, at least with my personal favorites. 🙂 I’ve always really loved music. Growing up, I would record songs from the radio onto a tape and make my own mixed tape.  Yep, I was that cool.

As soon as CDs and CD burners came out, I made countless CDs with my favorite songs. I was a bit neurotic about the song selection on each CD so that it all flowed together.  Who needed a boy to give me a mixed CD when I could make a better one? 😉

When iPods came out in college and as I started my career, I had tons of playlists to match every mood and activity. Running, walking, errands, cleaning, working, driving, everything. I love lyrics, I love a dramatic bridge in a song, I love instrumentals, I love it all.

To run with music or not

I run with music about 50% of the time.

  • If I have a long, solo run, I love music to help keep me entertained.
  • With a shorter easy run, I love to get lost in music and zone out.
  • If I have a long tempo run, a driving beat helps immensely.

But, sometimes I don’t like listening to music when I run:

  • On the track or during any workout with lots of changes in pace, I never listen to music. I hate anything extra on me with speed work since it just annoys me.
  • When running with others. I think that’s so weird and I see it often.
  • And when I’m just craving some peace and quiet, away from electronics, I leave my phone at home while I run. I let my mind run free.

runner with airpods listening to the best running music

Should you race with music?

Totally personal preference. I don’t always race with music. I never do for 5Ks but do occasionally for longer races, including half marathons and marathons. The 2018 Boston Marathon had horrible weather so while I wasn’t planning on using music for that race, I did simply because I knew that music helps me get through tough runs! And that was a tough day.

But, in general, I lean towards not racing with music, even if it’s the best running music in the world. Not listening to music lets me really pay attention to how my body is feeling so I can push or back off when I need to! Sometimes a distraction helps me run but sometimes it hinders.

Okay on to my go-to playlists!

The Best Running Music + My Personal Playlists

I have a lot of different playlists, but these are my top 5 that I use, with a note about why I love each!

1. 2019 Running Playlist

I know, I am very clever with playlist names. This is one I just started building after realizing I was a little burned out on my 2018 Running Playlist and will continue to add to it. I plan for this one to be a little more less mainstream than my 2018 mix. I make an exception for Imagine Dragons – those songs are just so good!

2. 2018 Running Playlist

This one has 21 songs and 1 hour 15 minutes of music! It’s a good mix of mainstream music plus some lesser-known bands. I used this for the majority of my Boston Marathon training runs this year!

3. Workout Music

This playlist has FOUR HOURS of music and it’s what I used during all my training for the Wrightsville Beach Marathon. It has a good mix of upbeat and some “zone out” songs. And it’s long enough to get you though very long runs. I used this so often for years that I kind of burned myself out on it. And that’s when I started the Not Pop playlist…

4. Not Pop Workout Music

(1 hour, 44 minutes) Sometimes, I just can’t deal with pop. So, being the creative person I am, I created the cleverly named Not Pop Workout Music playlist. These songs still have a great beat but you won’t find any Kesha or Rihanna on here. It’s a good playlist for easy runs when I want to zone out. But ironically, I often find I run faster to this playlist than the others.

5. Discover Keepers

(7 hours of music!!) This is a really random assortment of songs. Basically, this is my catch-all playlist whenever I hear a song I like. It’s constantly evolving too because sometimes I’ll listen to it, hear a song and HATE it, and try to remember why I saved it. So I delete it. I like this playlist for easy runs.

Happy running! With or without music!

Okay, your turn to share! Do you run with music? If not, why not? If so, what’s your favorite running song?


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  • Kate

    This year I have been loving:
    Feel it still by Portugal. The man
    Criminal by the Revivalists
    The Man by the Killers
    My Way by Calvin Harris
    Desperado by Rihanna
    All dumped into a single Spotify playlist 🙂

  • Jen

    On the treadmill- I HAVE to have music!
    Running outside- I usually go without

  • Kate

    You are very strong to be able to run without music lol. I could not imagine running without it. Music definitely helps me take my mind off things lol. I love all your music choices! Personally for me I always stick to the popular pop music and country hits that are playing on the radio. Thanks for sharing, hope you are having a lovely day.