Building a great running playlist can be the key to a successful run. It could be the difference between an average or bad run and a great one. I’ve had so many runs that started out poor and then became great once I put a great music playlist on.
The key to building a great running playlist depends on the type of run you are trying to do, the way you run, and the type of music you like.
In the examples below you will see how you can use playlists, the BPM of the music, and the order of the songs to help you run better, faster, and follow your training plan.
Here are some examples:
My friend Jeff likes to run 5k races. He is pretty fast, and he listens to music while he runs.
His running playlist is full of very high BPM songs. So in this case, if you are like Jeff, you’d want to build a playlist that is 30-40 minutes long in total, and that is filled with songs with a BPM of 140-180.
Let’s look at another friend of mine, Steve.
Steve is a relatively new runner, and while he wants to be fast, and win a 5k sometime in the future, he is aware that he’s just starting out and needs to pace himself so he doesn’t get hurt.
If you are like Steve, you’d build a playlist that is around 50 minutes long, with the first 5-10 minutes including songs with a BPM of around 100-120. This will allow you to ease into the run and build a good pace. If you are racing, you will most likely be somewhere in the middle of the pack and it will take you a few minutes to get into an area with enough space to run faster anyway. After the first 5-10 minutes, you can start to slowly build up BPM, go up to 140 for the next 5-10 minutes. Then after that you can go all out and increase the BPM of you songs to a high pace of 140-180.
Another great strategy is to cycle songs. This works well if you are running a longer race, and want to have time to run fast, but also run slow and recover from the faster parts of the race while you run. This is also good for speed work on a track.
Let’s say you want to run really fast for 10 minutes and then slow for 5 minutes.
Build a running playlist that follows that pattern. Put in some songs that are at around 140-180 BPM with a total time that lasts for 10 minutes, then build into the playlist some songs that are around 80-90 BPM and that last for about 5 minutes. Build this type of cycle in as many times as you need it.
Some things to think about:
1. You should probably plan to have enough music to last you for the duration of the race, unless you don’t mind looping music. If you run out of music once you’re 2 hours into a run, it can get very boring, very quickly.
2. Make sure you keep body awareness while you run. If you’re running on a very hot day for example and your 180 BPM music comes up on your iPod, you should probably skip that song unless you feel confident that you can handle that kind of heat stress.
3. When you run, make sure you’re listening to your music at a safe volume and that you make sure you are very aware of traffic and hazards on your path. I was almost clipped by a truck once because I wasn’t paying attention and listening to my music at a very high volume. One thing that really helps for this is a pair of Airdrives Earphones that go over your ears and not in them so you can still hear background noise.