Because the only thing that should be dropping is the beat
If you’re looking for an extra bit of motivation for your morning run, you need only look down at your phone. Or more specifically, your streaming apps. In the past, I found running more of a chore than a joy, but having the right music and in-ear programming lined up has proven to be an incredibly effective tool in my tech artillery for staying on track, preventing my mind from wandering, keeping energy levels up and making me actually look forward to putting my trainers on.
Which downloads deliver? From rap to grime and comedy for intervals, long runs and recovery, these are the tracklists and podcasts worth hitting ‘Play’ on.
For when you’re running intervals...
A good beat is key to keeping you on your toes. “Going for a higher intensity calls for more from the music,” says Third Space trainer, Leo Savage. “Higher bpm (beats per minute), more bass and lyrics to keep you going that extra mile.” His playlist features a bit of drum and bass, rap and grime. Wouldn’t blame you if you ran straight from pavement to dancefloor to be honest.
Chase + Status - End Credits
The Weeknd - The Hills (RL Grime Remix)
Kanye West - Monster
Stormy - Big For Your Boots
Jay Z - Run This Town
Grime’s also the genre of choice for Women’s Health Run Club leader and Assistant Digital Editor Francesca Menato when it comes to intervals and sprints. “Anyone who knows Fester Skank by Lethal Bizzle will know how much it makes you want to move from the first beat.” Been there. “For me, music when I’m running is about a feeling – whatever makes you feel strong (you know, the tunes that make you swag-walk through the Underground like you’re in a music video) is what you need in those moments when you’re trying to push through pain.” Survival tactics for either morning run or morning commute. The songs that she hits play on are:
Lethal Bizzle - Fester Skank
Kano - GarageSkankFREESTYLE
Wiley - Speakerbox
Stormzy - Return of the Rucksack
Skepta - I Spy ("A lot of Skepta TBH!")
And as an alternative to mix things up, she adds Toddla T’s Rumble. “Minimal vocals, serious beats.”
Nike+’s Run Club profile on Spotify is definitely worth checking out too for some interval inspiration. In particular the Speed Run and Run Strong. Repeat playlists provide a great mixture of tempos to have you in PB-beating condition in no time.
For when you’re going for a long run...
A combo of podcasts and high energy music can help you side-step common mental stumbling blocks to see you through from start to finish. You’ll reach that extra mile without even realising it. From a bit of comedy relief to sports geekery, Francesca shares her top picks with us.
A podcast for… when you need a proper distraction
When: "At the start of a BIG one."
Why: "I find that if I’m going out for some serious miles I need to find my rhythm and get into a headspace that takes the pressure off the running. If I’m stressing about mile 3, what is mile 18 going to feel like? So, I avoid all ‘health’ podcasts and head instead for comedy. Dubbed the ‘Adam and Joe Show of our generation,’ this podcast is full of silly jokes, a warm friendship and a healthy dose of self-recrimination. If you like comedians like James Acaster and Josh Widdicombe, you’ll like this.
Starting with a podcast rather than music also helps you keep on pace and not switch with each song."
A podcast for… when you want to geek out on running
When: "The middle of a seriously long run."
Why: "Once you’ve found your stride and your enthusiasm is at its highest, this is a great window into the world of running. Be warned it can get seriously niche – the last one I listened to was with a high school track coach (yes, it’s American) – but if you have an appreciation for running as a sport as well as a fitness hobby, this is a great listen. Some episodes are more accessible than others. I’d recommend starting with the one featuring Alex Hutchinson, in which they discuss all things human endurance."
Music for… those last few miles / speed work
When: "You really have to grit your teeth and put one foot in front of the other."
Why: "Sometimes you just really need some politically motivated rap! Sometimes I find dance music annoying when I’m struggling – a bit relentless. Rap with a good beat on the other hand…"
For when you’re going for a slow or recovery run...
If you’re looking to slow it down a little, get into the right mindset by reducing the bpm of your tracklist. But not too much. “It has to be upbeat enough to keep you going, but not too high tempo to make you feel like you are under pace by running slowly,” advises Leo. His hit list includes:
Kanye West - Power
Baynk - Come Home
Huntar - Autumn
The Internet - Under Control
The Weeknd - Party Monster
TI - What You Know
If you’re looking to forget about pacing though, want to leave your watch at home and kick back and enjoy the journey, Francesca recommends listening to Shakka . “Shakka has ultimate feel good tunes,” she says. “You cannot help but run to the beat and hope that traffic lights are obliging.” Say Nada is one of her favourites of his.
Another playlist which I’ve found also works well for a slower paced run is the Black Panther soundtrack. Besides making me reminisce about how good that movie was, (plus making me feel like I’m in it), its track list provides the perfect balance of soothing vocals and fluid beats to keep legs moving. Apologies for when you reach Redemption though. That one’s going to make you want to keep running even after you’ve reached the finish line.
On the other end of the spectrum though, you can also find me scrolling through Apple Music’s ‘I Miss The’ series . With compilations stretching from the 70s to the 00s, pop to funk, I defy anyone not to crack a smile just as the chorus for Go Your Own Way comes on just as you approach the final bend of your run.