A Guide to Creating the Perfect Running Playlist

Put on your headphones and go for a run.
Put on your headphones and go for a run. Donald Trung Quoc Don/Wikimedia Commons

In the age of social distancing, running is making a comeback.

The secret to success is finding the right type of sonic motivation to place between your ears. You find the right track, and you're good to go all morning. Here are some musical tips to help you keep things going steadily after the quarantine (hopefully) lifts.

For the Classic Rocker
Try The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again"

This nine-minute opus about a revolution is full of synthesizers, stunning guitar riffs, and quite possibly the best drum solo in the history of rock music courtesy of Keith Moon. Roger Daltry shouting "meet the new boss / same as the old boss" is as rousing as any anthem you can find.

For the Punk
Try The Clash's "Police on My Back"

This cover of classic The Equals' song adds a sense of urgency to any run as Joe Strummer screams he's been running all seven days of the week from the fuzz for a crime he didn't commit.

For the Metalhead
Try Metallica's "Master of Puppets"

It's the obvious choice from Hetfield and company, but it's nearly nine minutes of driving guitar and drums that never lets up. Slam your feet against the sidewalk instead of banging your head as you bow to your master.

For the '80s Nut
Try INXS' "Don't Change"

There's just something that gets you moving when you hear Michael Hutchence sing that there's a "resolution of happiness / things have been dark/for too long."

For the Hip-Hop Lover
Try Janelle Monáe's "Tightrope featuring Big Boi"

Featuring the classiest brass section from the future, Monáe's fun track from her 2010 opus The ArchAndroid swings high and low from the rafters. Add a smooth guest appearance from Outkast's Big Boi, and you've got something to get you moving.

For the Treadmill Lover
Try "45:33" by LCD Soundsystem

Nike commissioned James Murphy and his band of merry musicians to create a track perfect for working out indoors. The result was a 46-minute space opera that covers every aspect of a running workout, including the warm-up and cool down.

Editor's note: A version of this article originally ran in 2014.
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Jason Keil was the Phoenix New Times culture editor from August 2019 to May 2020.
Contact: Jason Keil