Ten Songs for Running / Biking / Sweating. ~ Dylan Owens

Via elephant journal
on Jul 12, 2011
get elephant's newsletter

Photo: Victor Roa

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.


About elephant journal

elephant journal is dedicated to "bringing together those working (and playing) to create enlightened society." We're about anything that helps us to live a good life that's also good for others, and our planet. >>> Founded as a print magazine in 2002, we went national in 2005 and then (because mainstream magazine distribution is wildly inefficient from an eco-responsible point of view) transitioned online in 2009. >>> elephant's been named to 30 top new media lists, and was voted #1 in the US on twitter's Shorty Awards for #green content...two years running. >>> Get involved: > Subscribe to our free Best of the Week e-newsletter. > Follow us on Twitter. Fan us on Facebook. > Write: send article or query. > Advertise. > Pay for what you read, help indie journalism survive and thrive—and get your name/business/fave non-profit on every page of elephantjournal.com. Questions? Send to [email protected]


9 Responses to “Ten Songs for Running / Biking / Sweating. ~ Dylan Owens”

  1. Tina Surman Scully says:

    ooh…I do the same thing, but don't know any of these songs…thx!

  2. Jessica says:

    Yes Yes Yes for the Trampled throw in! I've been sweatin' and grooving to them for years! My favorite boys!

  3. Sara says:

    good stuff.. I love discovering new artists.. thanks for the list!!

  4. Rebecca says:

    I could kiss you! I know most of the music, but have never put them all together in one wonder running clump. Will give it a go in the morning on the trail. Gracias!

  5. Dylan says:

    Glad you dig it. Hope it worked out well for you this mornin'.

  6. The Prop says:

    Love Trampled by Turtles!

  7. […] be. This could be magic, or just the magic of wool. They kept me warm in the early spring weather, but not sweaty, as the material is super breathable. The same was true for the tee; the wool knit allowed breezes […]

  8. […] or “For What it’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield. For you, it could be anything. Let it be something that’s electrifying to you; it’ll make you excited to […]

  9. rebecca says:

    i got stuck on thinking about getting sucked into a black hole… thanks for that! awesome!