Tunes to Lift Your Feet To

There are just 3 things I must have to ensure a good run: proper shoes, a sportsbra, and upbeat music on my iPod. Try not to picture me running with only these things on. You’ll go blind.

I have a friend who can run half-marathon distances while listening to audiobooks. I also know someone who finds lyrics distracting and use beats from Podrunner (free on iTunes under “podcasts”) – you choose your speed and get an hour of music at exactly that pace.

Me? I like catchy tunes. Not what the musical elite would call “good” songs, or songs that make you cry or think deep thoughts. Running is not the time to indulge in sentimentality or emotion; it’s a time to strip yourself down, turn off your brain and just be pure moving muscle.

Dance and pop music are great for motivation to move. They give you the all-important high beats-per-minute that you need to keep a steady, aggressive pace. I also believe that if you listen to some of the same songs every time you run, your body’s response becomes Pavlovian – your heart and lungs feel the rhythm and know what’s coming up, so they tune in and work harder to move oxygen around.

That said, with all the races and training coming up in 2010, here are some of the songs that help me warm up, stay fast and put an extra burst of speed on when I’m pushing towards the finish line:


  • Lebanese Blonde – Thievery Corporation/Garden State
  • Porcelain – Moby/Play
  • Wonderful – Adam Ant
  • I Know I Know I Know – Tegan & Sara/So Jealous
  • I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’ – Scissor Sisters/Ta-Dah
  • Bug Powder Dust – Bomb the BASS/The Rebirth Of Cool Phive
  • Faith – George Michael
  • Clint Eastwood – Gorillaz/Gorillaz
  • Lazy Eye – Silversun Pickups/Carnavas
  • My Moon My Man – Feist/The Reminder

Hardcore Speed

  • Fell In Love With A Girl – The White Stripes/White Blood
  • Inner Universe – Yoko Kanno/Stand Alone Complex
  • Intergalactic – Beastie Boys/The Sounds of Science
  • X Project – Dj Fresh/Escape From Planet Monday
  • Stronger – Kanye West/Graduation
  • Ocean Drive (Tiga’s White Linen Vox) – FPU
  • Destination: Overdrive – Chromeo
  • Firestarter – The Prodigy/The Fat Of The Land
  • My Elastic Eye – The Chemical Brothers/Come with Us
  • Hollaback Girl – Gwen Stefani/Love. Angel. Music. Baby
  • Fuck The Pain Away – Peaches/The Teaches of Peaches
  • Holding Out For A Hero – Frou Frou/Shrek 2
  • Sexyback – Justin Timberlake/’Futuresex/Lovesounds’
  • Milkshake – Kelis/Tasty
  • Womanizer – Britney Spears/Circus
  • Toxic – Britney Spears/In the Zone
  • The Distance – Cake/Fashion Nugget
  • My Red Hot Car – Squarepusher/Go Plastic
  • What You Waiting For? – Gwen Stefani/Love.Angel.Music.Baby
  • Smack My Bitch Up – The Prodigy/The Fat Of The Land
  • Hey Ya! – OutKast/’Speakerboxxx/The Love Below’
  • No Sleep Tonight – The Faders/Veronica Mars
  • Crazy In Love – Beyonce & Jay Z/Dangerously In Love
  • Single Ladies – Beyonce
  • Boom Boom Pow – Black Eyed Peas/E.N.D
  • Don’t Stop The Music – Rihanna/Ultimate Collection

Sustained Speed

  • Kids – MGMT/Oracular Spectacular
  • Sex on Fire – Kings of Leon
  • Unbelievable – E.M.F.
  • Change – The Lightning Seeds/Clueless
  • Number One – Chaz Jankel
  • Yes – Merry Clayton/Dirty Dancing
  • The World’s Made Up Of This And That – Fatboy Slim/Deeds Plus Thoughts
  • Damn Girl – Justin Timberlake/’Futuresex/Lovesounds’
  • Can’t Get You Out Of My Head – Kylie Minogue
  • Let’s Dance – David Bowie/Let’s Dance
  • Rehab – Amy Winehouse/Back To Black
  • Black Betty – Ram Jam
  • Billie Jean – Michael Jackson/Thriller
  • Simply Irresistible – Robert Palmer
  • Two Princes – Spin Doctor
  • Just A Girl – No Doubt/Tragic Kingdom
  • Zombie – The Cranberries /No Need To Argue
  • Pain – Four Star Mary
  • Shout – Tears for Fears
  • Crabbucket – K-Os/Joyful Rebellion
  • I Hear You Calling – Gob/The World According To Gob
  • A Bad Dream – Keane/Under The Iron Sea

Laugh Through The Pain

  • I’m Too Sexy – Right Said Fred/Up
  • Girls – Beastie Boys
  • Money – The Flying Lizards/Sedated in the Eighties
  • I Touch Myself – The Divinyls/Divinyls
  • The Humpty Dance – Digital Underground/Sex Packets
  • Baby Got Back – Sir Mix-a-Lot/Mack Daddy
  • Bust a Move – Young MC
  • I Want Candy – Go Gos/The Best of Bow Wow Wow
  • Istanbul (not Constantinople) – They Might Be Giants
  • Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen/Greatest Hits
  • Mashin’ On The Motorway – DJ Shadow/The Private Press
  • U Can’t Touch This – MC Hammer
  • Me So Horny – 2 Live Crew
  • Tubthumping – Chumbawumba
  • Smile – Lily Allen/Alright, Still
  • Supermodel – Jill Sobule/Clueless
  • Watch Out Now – The Beatnuts/Classic Nuts, Vol. 1

Home Stretch

  • Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey
  • Danger Zone – Kenny Loggins/Top Gun Soundtrack
  • Mission: Impossible Theme – Lalo Schifrin/U2
  • The Imperial March – John Williams/Star Wars Trilogy
  • Eye Of The Tiger – Survivor
  • You’re the Best – Joe Esposito/Karate Kid Soundtrack
  • Gonna Fly Now (Theme from Rocky) – Bill Conti/Rocky Balboa

What do you like to listen to when you’re pounding the pavement? Suggestions welcome!

10 thoughts on “Tunes to Lift Your Feet To

  1. I’d suggest you investigate the Glee soundtrack – for mindless pop, their version of “My Life Would Suck (without you)” is kinda fun.

    also, I have a six minute dance version of “O Fortuna” that kicks ass – even high school boys are down with it. 😉 If you wanna hit me up on e, I’ll send that over.

  2. My favourite running song is K-os Crabbuckit. The only downside is that now whenever I hear it, I start to get sweaty and out of breath. 😀

  3. Wow, what a musical omnivore you are. Some surprising selections in there *cough*Britney*cough* and an almost total absence of the 90s Britpop that seems to creep into every playlist on my various iPods. Somehow I had you pegged as a Norwegian Black Metal fan, but I guess I missed the mark.

  4. How about the theme music from “Chariots of Fire” – the thought of catching up to those young things running on the sand would spur me on…

  5. I’m going to have to try music, but I don’t have the patience to put together a playlist. Nor do I think I actually have the right stuff in my library – my collection is much too twangy and mellow. I do love the audiobooks though – over the past year, I’ve gotten through the Ender Saga, the complete Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, Isaac Asimov’s I Robot and Foundation Trilogy, and a bunch of other (much too cheesy to admit) stuff that I never would have had the time or excuse to read. I’m about to start the complete Conan stories of Robert E. Howard, and am pretty psyched.

  6. Awesome! I totally just bought a Shuffle entirely for the purpose of having exercise tunes – this will be excellent fodder!

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