Building Your Perfect Playlist

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWhen I posted “The Half-Marathon Playlist” a couple of months ago, it did not occur to me that it could attract as many readers as it did. Given the ever-increasing number of runners as well as the ever-increasing number of races, it did not come as a surprise that any advice that can improve on personal bests has the potential to draw interest. I guess that steps to building the perfect playlist are no different:

1. What motivates you?

The first question to ask yourself is what motivates you and what keeps you motivated? Perhaps you prefer the ambient sounds and solitude of nature. I know others for whom conversation and the shared social experience is what keeps them engaged. That’s OK too! Everyone responds differently and there could be a chance that music is perhaps not your motivator. But if music spurs on a natural reaction, makes you want to move or makes you lose track of time it may indeed be your motivator. If that is the case, read on!

2. What is your preferred music style?

There is no wrong answer to this one. This is all about YOU and YOUR musical tastes. Do you like rock, pop, electronica, country, folk, big band, swing, polka, opera? What kind of concerts do you attend most frequently? What music have you purchased lately OR what music do you go back to often for an energy boost? What music can consistently get you out of your chair or on a dance floor without even thinking about it? The answers to these should be great clues as to the songs, artists and style that can form the foundation of your playlist.

3. What is your fitness goal?

What do you want your music to help with? Is it to perk you up for morning runs? Is the music intended to encourage you to go faster or perhaps to slow you down so you don’t burn out too quickly? Is your music intended to help you achieve a consistent pace for an endurance run? The answers to those questions can help you tailor your list and choose the songs that best align with those fitness goals.

4. Edit-edit-edit

Once you have an initial playlist of songs loaded on your device and ready to go, try it out and see if any songs seem out of place. Intuitively, you should be able to tell if a song is unusually fast or unusually slow for the rest of the playlist. Perhaps a song is sucking the energy out of your workout. If that is the case, delete any of those from the playlist! (You can enjoy the song another time, just not when you are practicing your sport).
There is no shortage of music to choose from. The half-marathon playlist I posted on the blog was indeed a work-in-progress for many months, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself adjusting it frequently. Ultimately, you want that playlist of songs to help keep your energy stable, keep your interest high, keep your training activity fun and keep you coming back, looking forward to your training. If your playlist sucks, so will your workout.
Because I am an all-around music lover, I have over 100 playlists of all genres, rotating through my iPhone. I won’t give you a detailed list of all of them, but here are 5 playlists I go to most often for working out/running and a few samples of the songs they contain.

1) Run-Disco
A fun throwback to the 1970’s, featuring some of the big hits that were popular in the clubs as well as my middle-school dances!
Night Fever – The Bee Gees
Tragedy – the Bee Gees
The Hustle – Van McCoy
The Best Disco In Town – Ritchie Family
Hot Stuff – Donna Summer

2) Stock-Aitken-Waterman Mix
A compilation of fun songs from UK songwriting and record producing team of Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman. I have very fond memories of their hits of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, often played in the clubs I frequented at that time and heavily played on our local dance radio channel:
Venus – Bananarama
Together Forever – Rick Astley
I Should Be So Lucky – Kylie Minogue
They Say It’s Gonna Rain – Hazell Dean
Brand New Lover – Dead Or Alive
Success – Sigue Sigue Sputnik

3) Trance Favourites
When I feel particularly energetic for a short run, this is my go-to list of (more or less) high energy electronica which really helps me focus on the prize and raise the bar. I would not use this one for an endurance run, only a short fast run:
Coming Home – Armin Van Buuren
Time To Rest – Andy Blueman
Driving to Heaven (Mat Zo Remix) – Tiësto
Be Cool – Paffendorf
Out of The Blue – System F

4) Alcazar Mix
Alcazar is a band from Sweden, my all-time favourite pop band, offering a discography of infectious dance tunes guaranteed to chase the blues, get you off the couch and smiling through your workout:
We Keep on Rockin – Alcazar
Burning – Alcazar
Stay The Night – Alcazar
Not a Sinner Nor a Saint – Alcazar
Alcastar – Alcazar
Blame it on the Disco – Alcazar

5) Dance Mix
This one is a collection of fairly recent dance hits with strong melodies and choruses to keep the energy strong throughout the training session
Born This Way – Lady Gaga
Feel This Moment – Pitbull feat. Christina Aguilera
Don’t You Worry Child – Swedish House Mafia feat. John Martin
Locked Out of Heaven – Bruno Mars
One Last Time – Ariana Grande

You can turn any collection of favourite songs into the perfect playlist for you. How many songs is up to you, but I like to have enough songs in a playlist (preferably more) to cover the entire duration of the workout session, so that you do not need to take the focus off your workout to change music. Personally, I like my playlists on shuffle as it always keeps an element of surprise in not knowing which is the next song to come on… and chances are, it will be a favourite!

Your playlist is a very personal tool, that should be filled with songs you absolutely love. By making your workout routine a fun one, it will likely keep you coming back and keep you steadily on the road of healthy living, to help you meet or beat your fitness goals.

How about you… what are some of your favourite tunes for training? Maybe you can help inspire others with your playlist ideas?

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Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,


Filed under Misc blogs, Running

3 responses to “Building Your Perfect Playlist

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