Illustration by Roy Wilhelm

For me, it’s OMD’s “Enola Gay.” A little unexpected, I know. But when that song comes up on my running playlist, I forget that my legs feel heavy and push a little harder. In fact, Dr. Costas Karageorghis, an expert on the effects of music on exercise at England’s Brunel University, suggests that people run up to 15 percent faster when listening to music. Purists might say that tunes distract from proper form and pure focus. But for most of us, music helps keep us going significantly longer than when just listening to the voices in our head, that inevitably want us to stop immediately and get a bagel.

We asked some of our favorite professional runner friends to reveal which songs really get them pumping, listed below. “Good Feeling” by Flo Rida pop up on two lists—and we agree, it will really get you hustling. So what do you need? A slow build? A raging tempo? Post your power tunes below. We’ve only got four weeks until Memorial Day. Better make each run count!

Check out our Ultimate Running Shoes + Tech Guide 

The Pros’ Picks

Megan Lund-Lizotte, our new running blogger, is decorated half and full marathon runner with a focus on road and mountain running. She also trains and coaches runners, which will be the focus of her posts (which begin next week).

“Marathon Man” by The Roots
“Good Feeling” by Flo Rida
“Stars Align” by Kaskade & Andy Caldwell

Michael Wardian is a master of both road and trail running, with more than 150 marathons, 60 ultramarathons, and 20 triathlons under his belt. Get his trail running tips here.

“Thunderstruck” by AC/DC (think it is just because I like the tempo and was warm up song for lacrosse growing up).
“California Girls” by Katie Perry (that is like a guilty pleasure song, catchy hook and I like Snoop Dogg)
“Peace Frog” by the Doors (again, nice tempo and gets me pumped for some reason)

Deena Kastor set the American record for the half marathon—twice—won the 10,000-meter national championships four times, and snagged a bronze in the marathon at the 2004 Olympic Games, among a laundry list of other achievements. Get her road running tips here.

“Beautiful Day” by U2
• “Good Feeling” by Flo Rida
“Liberation” by Matt Darey

Caitlin Smith is Bay Area-based runner taking the competitive running world by storm. She is a top finisher in the marathon and the 50km trail race. Stay tuned for more on her…

• “Good Day” by Nappy Roots
• “Fortune Days” by the Glitch Mob
• “Chicken Fried” by the Zak Brown Band

Barefoot” Ted McDonald played a central role in Christopher McDougall’s breakout book, Born to Run, and has  become a leading spokesman for the wonders of barefoot running, particularly for those with injuries stemming from footwear. Read his barefoot running tips here.

Per Ted: “My playlist is unique in that I know the composer musicians on all the albums (few) on my iPhone.
• Michael Maricle (from Seattle) especially on the album Bloom: Beautiful Worlds 
• Angelo Spencer & Les Hauts (his wife was Kimya Dawson)
•. Also the eclectic and awesome local public radio station has incredible music DJs at KEXP 90.3 Seattle

Your turn! Post your favorite running songs below.

 

Comments

  1. Greg
    Vermont
    April 26, 2012, 9:02 am

    Good songs… I find that my songs are often changing, but lately I’ve been skipping ahead to these two songs towards the end of my runs…

    List of Demands – Saul Williams
    I’m Not Afraid – Eminem

    • Mary Anne Potts
      April 26, 2012, 9:20 am

      Good ones, Greg! Thanks for posting.

  2. [...] The Running Playlist: What’s Your Power Song? (adventureblog.nationalgeographic.com) [...]

  3. http://www.freesheetmusic.net
    Houston
    April 26, 2012, 12:05 pm

    I guess I’m a little weird — for me, it’s Ravel’s “Bolero”

  4. Trent
    Indianapolis
    April 26, 2012, 2:37 pm

    “Diamond” – Movie Soundtrack Snatch – Klint
    “Cold Heat Mega mix” – Nike – JRocc
    “Run Like an Antelope” – Phish

  5. Mary Anne Potts
    April 26, 2012, 2:40 pm

    Robin, I love Bolero! That song will get you up the hill for sure. Or maybe a mountain. It is sooo long.

  6. Ugne
    Lithuania
    April 27, 2012, 6:25 am

    One of my favourites, which leads me forward –
    Mashup-Germany – Top Of The Pops 2011

  7. Heather
    Seattle
    April 27, 2012, 10:05 am

    I would have to say “Run to the Hills” by Iron Maiden. It has a great pace and makes me smile when it pops on.

  8. Mathew
    April 29, 2012, 5:56 am

    The Proclaimers – 500 Miles …. :)

  9. DJ
    OR
    April 30, 2012, 5:51 pm

    Surrender, by Angels and Airwaves

  10. James
    Derby
    May 1, 2012, 2:07 am

    BT – Mad skillz
    NIN – Mr self destruct

  11. Lyman Reed
    United States
    May 4, 2012, 1:17 pm

    Weird Al’s “All about the Pentiums” is still my favorite running song.

  12. Sarah
    GA
    May 4, 2012, 2:00 pm

    Shake it Out by Florence and the Machine really gets me through a tough run. I also like Don’t Stop by Foster the People and Stronger by Kelly Clarkson.

  13. Irina
    Moscow, Russia
    May 4, 2012, 2:55 pm

    Curve – Chinese burn (Flood mix)
    Experiment – The cost of freedom
    Hooverphonic – Eden

  14. emma dumayne
    uk
    May 9, 2012, 6:09 pm

    Yeah Yeah Yeahs “Gold lion”.Great,steady beat.
    I also find the calmer the music,the better control I have over my breathing.

  15. Fredric Ciner
    May 16, 2012, 3:28 pm

    Tap into something slow and steady… Mondo Bongo by Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros.

  16. sara
    France
    May 26, 2012, 4:00 am

    The Proclaimers – 500 Miles
    chaussures jordan

  17. Lee
    US
    July 10, 2012, 7:19 pm

    NIN- We’re in this together. Good beat with high energy
    CKY- To all of you. Not sure why.

  18. Gregory
    Canada
    September 4, 2012, 9:11 pm

    Though a little dated, U2′s Even Better Than the Real Thing is the best song to come on my play list for motivation – perhaps the build up it has and then the part in the beggining and middle with doppler effect that makes you feel like you need to kick it into high to BE THE DOPPLER EFFECT :)

  19. Julian
    Bogota
    September 25, 2012, 2:00 pm

    Nothing better than Iron Maiden’s “Running Free”!

  20. Anna
    NYC
    October 9, 2012, 9:49 pm

    I love discovering new running songs!

    My personal top 2 are: Pink – Raise Your Glass and Survivor – Eye Of The Tiger.

    Below, my YouTube collection for workout :)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjVNlG5cZyQ
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4N5N-mGf4U
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RukUetw0hAM
    http://thehookup.com/ , here something to run with ;P

    Best!
    Anna
    Best!

  21. Hugo
    Chile
    March 7, 2013, 8:28 pm

    I really like running to electronic music and pop:

    Some of my favorite tracks:
    Avicii – Silhouettes
    Deadmau5 – Ghosts n Stuff
    Skrillex – Bangarang (just don’t use it for driving… You cant just simply keep under the speed limit)
    Calvin Harris ft Florence – Sweet Nothing
    Maroon 5 – Lucky Strike
    Katy Perry – ET
    Daft Punk – Harder Better Faster Stronger
    Rihanna – S&M
    Safri Duo – Rise (Leave me Alone)
    and others…

  22. Michele Peter Ufer
    Germany
    April 1, 2013, 11:06 am

    Atacama Desert, Lycian Way, THE HIGH & Mount Everest proven:

    > “Try a little harder”, Carlos Santana
    > “Revelations”, Carlos Santana

    among others…

  23. Isabelle
    Quebec, Qc, Can
    April 1, 2013, 3:01 pm

    “Everlong” – FooFighters….over and over!

  24. Laura
    New York
    September 5, 2013, 8:53 pm

    Manifest–Karsh Kale
    Pursuit of Happines–Kid Cudi
    Paradise–Coldplay
    Raindrops–Basement Jaxx
    Like Eating Glass–Bloc Party
    Ring the Alarm–Beyoncé :)

  25. Tom
    Sverige
    September 15, 2013, 7:26 am

    Power Run – Laserdance
    Theme to Vertebra – Elwood (http://www.elwoodproductions.com)