Amateur tips for compiling a running playlist

September 23, 2015

In the last year or so, I’ve started getting into running, and while I definitely wouldn’t call myself a proper runner, I’m improving.

One reason I didn’t start earlier is that I thought running was boring (although I’m not sure why I don’t think that applies to cycling). It is pretty boring, and maybe that’s part of why I’m starting to like it. There can be a meditative aspect to it, although generally I prefer to listen to music or podcasts while I run. Podcasts can be great stimulation while running, but I think I generally run much faster if I listen to music.

You might be tempted to let a computer choose the tracks for you, with something like Spotify running, but I’m quite old-fashioned, and I don’t want to let the machines take control.

My own running playlist is still a work in progress, but it’s working well for me so far. Here are some my rules of thumb for choosing tracks:

  • Don’t go too fast

High BPMs aren’t necessarily a good idea, especially if it’s a long run. You need to pace yourself, so mid-tempo tracks with an insistent rhythm are ideal. Exhibit A: Kashmir by Led Zeppelin

  • Avoid songs that stop and start a lot

You might think Black Dog is a great tune that gets you psyched up, but the beat dropping out is no good for keeping a pace

  • Make sure the playlist is at least as long as your likely time for the event, plus some faffing-about time at the start

Poking about on your phone to start the music again is a PITA

  • Stay positive

The beats might seem like the main thing, but the lyrics make a big difference. If you’re struggling on a long run, you really don’t need to hear “Life’s a bitch, then you die”. Much better to have something like “I feel so great”. Or a cheesy motivator like “You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow”.

  • Choose tunes that you like

It might seem obvious, but the idea is to enjoy yourself

Any other bright ideas, or recommended tunes? Let me know.