I’m a runner, and I’ve always been a runner. Ever since I can remember, whenever I’m feeling happy, sad, angry, or just bored, all I have wanted to do is feel the wind through my hair and watch the scenery fly by. I love to run.
However, somewhere in my teenage years, I found another love: music. I couldn’t live without it and would play albums constantly, from morning till night — much to my parents’ chagrin.
Fortunately, I discovered early on that melding these two passions was easy. With one of my mom’s old Walkmans in hand, I began taking music with me on all of my runs (portable CD players at that time always skipped).
Today, of course, I’m lucky enough to have an iPhone and wireless headphones like everyone else — making it much simpler to bring music with me wherever I go. I make playlists too, and below, I’ve got one just for you: the perfect rock playlist for running. Let’s go!
The Perfect Rock Playlist for Running
Aerosmith is one of my favorite bands to run to. Basically, any of their songs will be a good track to put on your running playlist. “Sweet Emotion” is perfect as song number one because it really eases in at the beginning.
Having that buildup gives you a lot of momentum to start your run. I even start playing this track before I am out the door. That way, I start getting into the mood of running before my feet even hit the pavement!
Cake was a popular band when I was in high school, and I still love them. I actually saw them live when I was in college, and it is one of my favorite memories. If you’ve never heard this song, it’s kind of got talking at the beginning that’s talking about a race (matched with music, naturally).
This is really just the way that the lead singer sings on a lot of their tracks, but man, does it pump me up for my run. The lyrics “He’s going the distance, he’s going for speed … he’s racing and pacing and plotting the course … he’s going the distance!” are so inspiring. The song is all talking about moving, going, running, traveling, racing — perfect for a great run.
This is actually a good wind-down song, or I’ll listen to it right before I head out the door. AC/DC was my dad’s favorite band, so they were always playing in our house. In fact, I don’t have one running or workout playlist that doesn’t have an AC/DC song on it. This one is just a favorite. Brian Johnson’s screechy voice gets me every time.
You’ve gotta have a track with “run” in the title, right!? “Born to Run” is one of my favorite Bruce Springsteen songs of all time. It’s from 1975 from the album of the same name. I especially love the twinkly bells in this song. It really makes me feel light on my feet, like I’m flying on the trails. The saxophone solo gets me going too!
The Final Word on the Best Rock Running Songs
It’s very possible that this playlist won’t speak to you the way it speaks to me, and that’s okay. Music, like all types of art, is subjective. You’re going to have some tastes that differ from mine — that’s natural.
In this case, be sure to take the time to make your own playlist. Take from this list if you have a few here that you like, and add others that make you feel that fiery energy of a great run. The key is to keep the tempo fairly quick on most tracks.
Of course, you can always add a slower track or two at the beginning and the end of your playlist for a warmup and cooldown. If you want your playlists to be timed exactly with your run, just add up all of the lengths of the songs, and make sure that it jives with how long you want your run to be as well.
Just remember that making playlists takes time. Most people just throw a few songs together right before they head out, but I really like to curate mine so that I can look forward to them when I’m running. Try it, and see what you think for yourself. I think you’ll be especially glad you took the time to make up a special running playlist that’s all your own!