Listomania – What Are the Best Running Songs?

Tomorrow, I’m running the Berlin Marathon. CLANG! But don’t worry, I’m not feeling particularly smug about it right now. It’s more like a cross between the last hours of the condemned and what I imagine what the last stages of pregnancy might feel like, as you look down at your distended belly, think about the size of your needle’s eye and wonder whether you could find someone official to explain that you’ve changed your mind.

People have kept asking me, over the past couple of weeks, ‘has your training been going alright?’, and ‘do you feel ready?’. To cut a long story short, the answer to both those questions is a frightened whimper.


But I will get through it. How do I know this? Three reasons in ascending order of importance: I’ve done it before, I am a stubborn bastard, and lastly and most importantly, I will have music.

I can’t imagine surviving it without music. I met a guy the other week that said he’d run marathons with no mp3 player. “I just think about life,” he said. I nearly burned him for a witch right then and there. Think about life? Can you imagine anything worse than thinking about your life for 26.2 miles?

To save me from that horrific eventuality, readers, I need some new running tune suggestions. I have a clutch of tried-and-tested bankers I’ve been tramping around to for years, but like familiar training routes, they’re now starting to get a bit tedious (sorry, Le Tigre).

A good running playlist is a very different thing from just favourite songs. In the same way as eating to run, the priorities are all different. You need something high in uplift, bang and earnestness to maintain you. Springsteen is ideal, as is LCD Soundsystem. I will be forever grateful for the moment that ‘Get Innocuous!’ came pulsing through my headphones on mile 18 of the Edinburgh Marathon, and I was like ‘WALL? WHAT WALL? ALL I SEE IS PARTY’.

Also ideal is cheesy vocal-led gym trance in the vein of ‘Silence’ by Delerium or ‘Touch Me’ by Rui Da Silva. Nothing too emotional, though; when the blood sugar dips and the endorphins start flying around, you get vulnerable. I’ve felt on the verge of tears because I was so moved that a small child had offered me a sweetie. And no songs that specifically refer to running, either, (‘Running Up That Hill’, ‘Born To Run’ etc) because that just reminds you of what you’re doing, and much like thinking about life, that’s the last thing you want.

So what are your favourite running tracks? What’s going to keep me trudging when the thought of pretzels and beer is no longer enough? What’s going to inspire a sprint finish? Enquiring minds want to know.

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