Create a Running Playlist

Run to the beat of your own drum

Whether it’s a distinct rhythm that syncs with your stride or a particular mood that moves you, creating the perfect playlist for your run can help you stay motivated and have fun. So, when it comes to crafting a playlist of running music, you’ll need to experiment to find the right mix for you. Here are some tips to help you get started.

Match tempo

  • For warming up, choose songs that start slow then build intensity both musically and with lyrics that inspire you.
  • Pick up the pace with a moderate- to fast-paced track, one with a beat that will match your running speed.
  • Next, add a couple songs with varying rhythms to work some intervals into your workouts. Because people naturally change their pace to keep in step with the tempo, you may not even notice you’re working harder.
  • Be sure to throw in at least one or two super-fast and high-energy songs that are sure to get your heart pumping and give your legs the workout you’re after.
  • Recover with a more moderate- to slow-paced song giving your heart, lungs and legs a chance to recover.
  • Finish up with a finale song that gives you the extra nudge you need to run toward triumph. This song should pat you on the back for how far you've come and help you find the strength to give whatever you’ve got left.
  • At last, once you’ve crossed that “imaginary finish line” remember to cool down after a run with at least five minutes of some favorite mellow tunes.

Find inspiration

Consider including music that makes you feel like you are making a statement to the world. Studies show that music has specific motivational qualities that can make you work harder and faster, even when you feel spent. It can elevate your mood, reduce tension and fatigue, and even enhance your endurance.

Speed up your step

Upbeat music increases activity in a part of the brain called the ascending reticular activating system, which “psyches” you up when you’re running and can improve performance. The optimal tempo range is 120 to 140 beats per minute. With a simple search, you can easily look up beats per minute (bpm) of your go-to songs, you can also find the tempo that matches the heart rate you want to achieve during your workout. For example, if you want your heart rate to get to 130 bpm, choose a song whose tempo progressively increases to that beat.

Lean on your music memory

We tend to favor songs we hear often and are especially familiar with, so consider including songs already in your music library. Adding songs you associate with moments of perseverance, either from movies or your personal life, can also give you an extra edge.

Update your music

If you’ve had your playlist on repeat for a while, you may be desensitized to the songs’ motivational qualities. Change your playlist at least every couple of weeks so you don’t get bored and lose your momentum.

Stay alert and safe

Remember, always keep your volume at a level that allows you to hear nearby traffic, runners or other potentially dangerous activity. Being completely unaware of your surroundings can be very dangerous. This also helps ensure that you are protecting your ears. High-intensity exercise coupled with music above about 85 decibels can cause temporary hearing loss.

Running Woman

Gingerich Mackenzie, N. (n.d.). Pump Up Your Run with Music. Retrieved April 25, 2018, from

Time, Inc., The Perfect Playlist: How Your iPod Can Help You Run Faster and Harder, By Alexandra Sifferlin @acsifferlinAug. 06, 2012,

How to Create the Perfect Workout Playlist Boost Your Exercise Mojo with the Right Music, Jennipher Walters, sparkpeople,

The information provided is for educational purposes only. It is not medical advice. Always consult your doctor for appropriate health advice and guidance, including prior to starting a new diet or exercise program.