Building a Marathon Playlist

I love listening to music when I run. I think it actually can enhance my performance. Sometimes, when I’m just listening to a certain song, my heart rate will go up and I will want to go run, or if I’m at home doing “my thing”, clean faster. In fact, this song is making my heart rate elevated right now:

Can anyone listen to this and NOT get pumped up? It’s now on my race playlist. Twice. Once in the beginning and once at the end.

Side note: It’s not a very good idea to listen to your fast playlist and drive. Just sayin’.

My playlist is vast and varied. I look for good race songs all year long and add them when I hear them a few times and pass the “I won’t get annoyed at this song after a week” test. I have country, rock, instrumental (example above), teeny bopper, and old school. It would be boring to give you my entire playlist – I mean really, who DOESN’T have “Roar”, “Eye of the Tiger”, “Lose Yourself” and “Runnin’ Down a Dream” on their playlist? How about “The Fighter” by Gym Class Heroes? So here’s a few highlights that may differ from your own.

“Come on, feet…got ta get me there!” This one makes me smile and think of making it to the finish line.

“Got ta walk on…. I’m so tired… but I just can’t lose my stride!”

Then there’s this one. It’s pretty obvious just by the title, “Ignition”.  If anything, listen to the chorus at :47. Again, how can you NOT run faster to this one?

I have two different “Animals” songs, one by Nickelback and the other by Martin Garrix. They are both heart thumpers.

Here’s a different sort, and I know it’s not everyone’s thing, but I use these two songs as a “triggers”. I used them in Boston when we were to start heading up, up, up around mile 15-16. I knew it was time to kick it in gear when I hear them. That’s when your body tires and your mind needs to stay sharp.  The hardest part is coming. Hard work it is.


The song below makes me want to run mountains. Big mountains with Vikings and lions and fight people wearing bear coats. I have the short, 2 minute version on my playlist.

Then I’ve got “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark”, “Just Push Play”, various AC/DC songs (but not Highway to Hell, that would be way too obvious), “The Distance”, “Higher Ground”, “Kickstart My Heart”, songs like that. But near the “it’s mental more than physical” part (ok, that’s pretty much the entire thing), I have put a nice little reminder of what I’m trying to do and where I want to go and why I’m putting myself through this. After all, it’s all about Boston.

What are your go-to race songs? Have taper madness before?





Categories: Boston Marathon, boston red sox, hal higdon training plan, marathon, marathon training, no fear, qualifying for boston marathon, quintiles wrightsville beach marathon, running, training for marathon, Uncategorized, wrightsville beach marathon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on “Building a Marathon Playlist

  1. Why yes I have definitely experienced taper madness. I took that crazy week to redo my playlist too! I really need to work on it again with this next race coming up and you have some fabulous suggestions in here. Right now my fave song on my playlist is David Bowie’s Modern Love. Totally random but it gets me moving!

  2. I can totally see how that song can get you moving! Your race is coming up (you’re welcome for the reminder) so be sure you let me know your must-have race songs!!! I don’t know how to handle taper madness. Of 7 marathons, never had it. Hopefully it’s a good sign…. NOW I know what all the talk is about. Sigh, and I could have done without.

  3. Tapering is tough, but necessary. I have never run with music, ever. Can you believe that?

  4. Jane Likes to Run

    I usually only run with music in the last part of my runs as a motivator. But then I haven’t used music for years during a race. However I think that may be a problem because music helps me to get out of my own head! I think I’m going to try it at the Eugene marathon this year. Not for the whole race. Maybe starting at mile 18 or something like that. No one has ever hassled you for wearing headphones during a race?

    • No one has ever said anything about headphones- 90% of the other runners usually have them, but they always have the lecture about them 🙂 There’s just something about music that provides a distraction so I can focus- make sense? I don’t hear my breathe, I don’t think as much about every minute of every mile and time seems to go by faster. Try it if you want- I wish I could run races without it!!

  5. We can’t listen to music at Ironman, so I don’t train with it…no headphones and phones allowed. I do “listen” to music in my own head and sometimes sing out loud while we are riding/running. I requested that our friends, who were spectating at Ironman, play “I Feel Good” for me at a couple of different locations throughout the race (mile 100 on the bike) and miles 9 and 22 on the run. When you hear it, you start to believe it 😉

    • I asked my coach what she thinks when she’s racing (she qualified for Kona and has done 12 IM’s) and she said, “Lookin’ good, feelin’ fine”. She said if you think you look good, you feel good, you perform good. Sort of like your song 🙂
      I never thought about music during my 70.3, so I don’t think I’ll miss it at all during the full- I wasn’t planning to train with it. Seems cruel to give people an all day event without music where they just have to be with their own thoughts! Ha! Part of the challenge I guess.

      • So true!! Ironman isn’t just a physical challenge, but a mental one as well. 😉

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