The Importance of Music When I Run

Before I get into this, I have to say music is my first love. I have been a drummer for over 25 years, worked in a recording studio, ran live sound for bands like The Temptations, The Go-Go’s, Skillet & Jars of Clay to name a few, and even had the opportunity to be in the opening cast of Tapestry of Nations at Epcot. Needless to say, music is in my blood

There is just something about the way music can evoke an emotion. Without needing any other sense but just hearing, it can make you laugh, cry, smile and even get your heart pounding. Don’t believe me? Go to iTunes right now and grab these tunes to see, rather listen to what I mean…

The Teaching Montage – Dave Soundtrack
Define Dancing – Wall E Soundtrack
Main Theme  - Hook

So what does this all have to do with running? Music, of course has always been tied to sports in some capacity. Whether it’s to stir the home crowd into a frenzy when the home team is down, or when athletes are about to hit the Start line with that last minute tune to set the mood, music has the amazing ability to get you to react.

The same works for me when I run. Plain and simple, I need music to perform at my best as it gives me the extra mmph I need when the miles get longer or I need a burst of speed. I won’t get into the divided camps of runners are proponents of music and those who say it hinders runs since you can’t hear your body or traffic, etc. Either way you want to run is your business, I just wanted to talk about how it affects me and share some tried and true tracks that really influence my running.


Always Running Forward (with my headphones on)
To find the best tracks for my run I have a bit of a scientific approach, which includes plotting my runs in Excel and then seeing where my peaks and valleys are in terms of performance and then setting my running mix to counter those spots where I need improving (say what???) Yeah, I’ll post the instructions some time in the future.

1. When Can I See You Again – Owl City. This bubble gum track is from the movie Wreck-It Ralph and is a recent addition to my running mix. I have to say, I absolutely hate overproduced, digitally created tracks that seem to have taken 4 minutes to produce (like this one), but hey, I’m running so I let a few of ‘em slide. The driving beat of this track really gets me going, while the overlaying synth pads remind me of a time when I used to write a lot of house music. Overall, a fun track.
Grade: B

2. Hall of Fame – The Script. This track is one of my Nike Powersongs (a Powersong is a song you can queue up during your run with just one touch of the button). Of course, this song is all about “getting it done” and it pushes me into an extra gear, even when I’m already in 6th gear. I’ve found this song really works at Mile 20 of a marathon or the last 1,000 feet of a 5k. During this year’s Goofy Challenge, when I broke my foot at Mile 6, this track essentially played over and over for the remaining 20.2 miles.
Grade: A

3. Heart of the City – Jay-Z. Hova! Set your run in cruise control and just enjoy Hova layin’ it down. My running buddies know when this track comes on because I bob my head the whole time.
Grade: B+

4. To the World – Kanye West, R. Kelly, Teyana Taylor. “Let me see you put your middle finger up to the world…” Another one of those “get the Hell outta my way” tracks. I mean, when this comes on I’m gone. Everybody has a song or two on their mixes that say, “I might not be better than you, but today I’m faster than you.” This is one of mine.
Grade: A

5. Wild Ones – Flo Rida (featuring Sia). This is a fun track. Pumping beats and bass just cut the way for some serious running. I feel faster when listening to this monster, and really enjoy the run. I think what’s cool about it is there are so many nooks and crannies that make this song fun (listen to the cool keyboard lick at the 1:33 mark). Put it on and enjoy your mileage!
Grade: B

6. All I Do is Win - DJ Khaled, featuring Ludacris, Snoop, Rick Ross. “Luda!!!” So there I am running, minding my business and all of a sudden I got punched in the face…. by this song. Boom! If this song is playing YOU. WILL. NOT. BEAT. ME.
Grade: A

7. Defying Gravity – Wicked. This track is awesome. It’s another one of my Powersongs. Truth be told, it starts out pretty slow, but thanks to my Pro Tools skills, I edited it so all the uplifting parts fit perfectly without all the talking. I absolute love Idina Menzel in this show. Her voice just resonates just right through me out on the course and turns on the jets.
Grade: A+

8. Knock the Cover Off the Ball – Randy Newman. The main theme from the baseball masterpiece “The Natural.” If you are any bit of an athlete you know and love this song.
Grade: A

9. Main Theme to Iron Will – Joel McNeely. Most of you Disney fans will recognize this cinematic gem from the Fountain of Nations show at Epcot. I have a ton of Disney Parks tracks on my playlist but will save that for another post. I like this track because it’s light, fast and makes me feel like I’m at the front of the pack.
Grade: A+

10. Little Wonders – Rob Thomas. This is from the Disney movie “Meet the Robinsons” and it’s on my mix because not every track can get your heart racing. There also need to be tracks that keep you calm and focused. I still remember hearing this track in my very first half marathon (I was passing through the car toll way at Animal Kingdom). This track relaxes me and I think adds a bit of reflection time on my run. Very Zen.
Grade: B

11. Skateboard Chase – Alan Silvestri. From the movie “Back to the Future” which I have an ungodly obsession with. But, c’mon this movie is part of my childhood and that theme is just incredible. “Shhiiiiiiiiiittttt.”
Grade: B+

12. Reflections of Earth – Epcot Illuminations show. Just put it on your mix and go run. You’re welcome.

Grade: A+

So those are just a few of the current tracks that occupy my running playlist. Do you agree? What are some of your favorite running tracks? Let me know!