Marathon playlist mix-up

I have always preferred listening to music when I run. Listening to my breathing somehow subconsciously causes me to breath heavier and unevenly and the music gives me something to get lost in so my mind doesn’t get stuck in thoughts of miles remaining, etc.

But creating and maintaining a playlist that is long enough to last a marathon and full of motivational songs that I actually like has always been a challenge for me.

I listen to my favorite local radio station or satellite radio in the car so the only time I employ my iTunes library is when I run. This means I don’t buy new CD’s very often at all. On top of that, I have had to restore my laptops to factory settings multiple times which always leaves me with a pathetically empty library needing to be rebuilt.

None of those things are necessarily the building blocks for stellar 4 hour marathon playlists. I have managed to piece together one that works really well for me on multiple occasions but afterward my iTunes library is pretty well exhausted and there isn’t much room to mix things up.

What I have found works well for me lately is to build that really good “base” running playlist close to the beginning of training. It is filled with songs that have a good motivational beat and are not likely to get old to me anytime soon. From there, every month or so I will tweak that base playlist. If there are songs that I know I have been constantly skipping over, then I drop them from the list. Then I add a handful of new songs that have caught my attention on the radio or Pandora recently – making sure there is always a net gain of songs each time I tweak the playlist.

This way, my playlist is getting longer as my training runs are getting longer and hopefully by the time race day comes I will have a list plenty long enough to get me through. Also, while the existing songs on the playlist are still enough to interest me, every so often one of those new songs that I am all about at the time comes on and it really pumps me up.

I did a small mix-up of my running playlist about a week ago and here are a few of the songs that I added:

Harlem by The New Politics (something about this song just gives me ENERGY)

Help is on the Way & Savior by Rise Against (these songs aren’t remotely new, but this band comes on one of my Pandora stations a lot and I started to notice they really give me a lift when I’m running)

Shake it Out by Florence and the Machine (it isn’t a very fast paced song but I still love it)

Blow Me Away by Breaking Benjamin (also not a new song, or a new band to my playlists but somehow I didn’t already have this song in my library and I love when it comes on Pandora so now its on the list)

In terms of my “base” playlist, here are several of the bands who have almost always been a big part of it:

Breaking Benjamin



The Black Keys


Do you listen to music when you run? How do you build your perfect running playlist? What are your favorite bands and songs right now?


2 thoughts on “Marathon playlist mix-up

  1. Florence, Incubus, and The Black Keys are definitely some of my favorites… Santigold’s album Santogold from 2008 is another great album for running. On the occasional time when I do listen to music, hers is one of my favorites.

    • I will have to check that band out. I am pretty sure I have heard some of her songs but haven’t tried it out for running. And since you clearly have great taste in music I bet I will like it 🙂

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