I spend about as much time making a playlist for a workout as I do working out.
And that’s no joke. Like many others, music plays a huge role in my life, and to me, there is no greater motivator to run far and fast than a carefully selected soundtrack. Well, besides some sort of psychotic robo-bull in a tight alleyway, but that’s a different story all-together. One which would probably take place in Pamplona, circa 2090. But I digress.
Below is a meticulously crafted (down to the order) list of ten songs that will make your next run seem like a movie montage. These songs all share the same pavement-pounding sensibilities, but run the gamut of genres. Of course, musical taste varies wildly from person to person, so your mileage may vary.
Without further ado…
1. LCD Soundsystem – Dance Yrself Clean
The first spot goes to the opener off of LCD Soundsystem’s This Is Happening. This track has a slow open that’s perfect for your warm-up, but don’t let your guard down: the 3:08 mark will light a fire under your ass and set a vicious pace for any workout.
2. The Generationals – When They Fight, They Fight
From electronic, we transition to The Generational’s brand of retro funk. This track’s steady bass line and funky horn section are great for both cutting a rug and a nice bike ride alike.
3. Trampled By Turtles – Wait So Long
While working out to bluegrass music might sound akin to heavy metal at nap-time, Trampled By Turtles are a young, high energy group with some incredible songwriting to boot. There’s no drums to be found here (this is bluegrass, after all), but a great bass line and a vicious banjo give Wait So Long oomph enough for jiggin’ or joggin’.
4. Gnarls Barkley – Going On
Gnarls Barkley’s “Going On” is an up-tempo track with an adrenal beat that’s practically readymade for a workout. Also, it has an awesome music video:
5. My Morning Jacket – Wordless Chorus
This track by southern rock group My Morning Jacket is like a good cup of coffee: mellow, but strong. The pounding drums provide a solid rhythm to get you in the zone and make you forget the world outside your headphones.
6. Ratatat – Mandy
This track by the flanger-loving duo Ratatat is an off-kilter and in-your-face arrangement that sounds like what I’d imagine you’d hear if you got sucked into a black hole. Bodacious! Far out! Gnar-bars! Etc.
7. Raphael Saadiq – 100 Yard Dash
Neo-soul musician Raphael Saadiq understands that nothing gets the heart beating faster than love, running and sweet, sweet music. Don’t believe me? Take this song with you on the track and find out for yourself.
8. The Islands – Rough Gem
This right here? This is what happiness sounds like. Great for a run, bike ride or your next barbecue, this song’s euphoric mood will leave you smiling whether if it’s your first mile or last lap.
9. Boombox – Midnight on the Run
The electro-funk duo Boombox are known for moving bodies on the dance floor, but their beats also make for entrancing exercise music. Midnight on the Run is a sprawling ten-minute hip-shaker with enough drum and bass to crumble a small mountain.
10. The Strokes – You Only Live Once
You could probably toss The Strokes’ first LP Is This It? in its entirety to any playlist and have a blast, but this track off of First Impressions of Earth is raw energy. Play it last and finish strong.
Total Time: ~46 min.
Like what you hear? Hate it? Leave me a comment below.
Dylan Owens is currently a senior in the creative writing program at the University of Colorado. As an ex-baby model, he peaked early, but is mounting a comeback as a writer for elephant journal and the Boulder Today. You can learn about his exploits and interests via photo, blurb and hand-picked Youtube video on his facebook, or simply Google “pickle recipes,” “life-sized Jenga” and “PBR&B” for the same effect.