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Best running songs
Image: Time Out/Anthony Mooney/Shutterstock

The 30 best running songs

These killer running songs should help you set your pace and get your blood pumping

Edited by
Andy Kryza
Written by
Kate Wertheimer
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To help peel you off the couch and get you moving, we’ve found the very best running songs to keep you going mile after mile in the gym or on the hiking trail. These tracks are ideal whether you run for pleasure, hit the street to begrudgingly fulfil a resolution, or incorporate running as the cardio portion of an energetic workout. Regardless of what’s driving you to pound the pavement, a propulsive playlist is a must. From thumping hip-hop beats to high-energy guitar jams (and even a little tough love from Britney), here’s your new favorite running mix.

Written by Sara Fay, Kate Wertheimer, Andy Kryza, Andrew Frisciano, Brent DiCrescenzo and Sophie Harris.

Listen to these songs on Amazon Music

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Best running songs, ranked

‘Eye Of The Tiger’ by Survivor
Image: Scotti Bros.

1. ‘Eye Of The Tiger’ by Survivor

Here’s the thing about ‘Eye of the Tiger.’ If you get into running, you’ll probably think about signing up for a race. Maybe a Thanksgiving Turkey Trot or a neighborhood fun run to start, then a 5K or a 10K, or even a half or full marathon. This is where a runner’s intimate relationship with this song begins. It is basically impossible to run a race without hearing it, whether you’re going 3.1 miles or 26.2. We’re not here to claim this song as a modern musical masterpiece, but it’s going to motivate you to keep going whether you like it or not.

Survivor wrote the track in 1982 specifically for Sylvester Stallone's theme song in Rocky III, so its association with athleticism and ass-kicking is a given. And once you start associating those iconic power chords with race-day adrenaline, it’ll have a permanent spot on your run playlist—what better motivation to pick up the pace than chasing a personal record? Wherever it lands on your playlist—whether it’s in the beginning to help you warm up or towards the end when you’re fighting fatigue—‘Eye of the Tiger’ is a runner’s best friend and everyone knows it. The next race you run, just watch what happens to the athletes around you when the opening chords of the song blast from the speakers. You’ll see air punches. And kung-fu kicks. Probably some dance moves. Let’s just say that no one stops to re-tie a shoe when ‘Eye of the Tiger’ is playing. Whatever mile you’re on when it happens, it’ll be a memorable and motivational moment. Bonus points if it’s playing as you cross that finish line.

‘99 Problems’ by Jay-Z
Image: Def Jam

2. ‘99 Problems’ by Jay-Z

Some people run for fitness. Others run for fun (really). Regardless of what motivates you to lace up, most runners learn pretty quickly that knocking out some miles on foot is a great opportunity to work shit out in your head. Jay Z’s 2003 track just might give you some perspective on life’s obstacles (blisters, runner’s knee, the law in your rear view mirror—you know, the normal stuff). If nothing else, the beat and the hook make the blocks pass by quickly.

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‘Sabotage’ by Beastie Boys
Image: Grand Royal

3. ‘Sabotage’ by Beastie Boys

This grungy, distorted rapcore tune, off 1994's Ill Communication, gets your heart racing whether you're running or not, making it a go-to track for really pushing your pace. It's easy to imagine running from the cops—or toward some mayhem—with the Boys yelling in your ears, and the steady beat and frantic turntable scratches don't hurt either.

‘Lightning Bolt’ by Jake Bugg
Image: Island Records

4. ‘Lightning Bolt’ by Jake Bugg

Young Brit Jake Bugg looks like he could be your kid brother. Like he’s almost old enough to taste the glory of a post-run beer—but his first big hit is more associated with Gatorade. It appeared in an ad for the runner’s drink of choice a few years ago, and its driving beat and catchy, scrabbling guitar will easily push you along the road. Short and sweet at under two and a half minutes, it’s a great opportunity for you to pick up the pace a little.

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‘Run Like Hell’ by Pink Floyd
Image: Columbia Records

5. ‘Run Like Hell’ by Pink Floyd

It’s not just the title that lands this pulsating, breathless and ultimately soaring cut from The Wall on this list. It’s the fact that the song is perfectly calibrated to a runner’s rhythm, with each thump of Roger Waters’ iconic bassline propelling the body forward. Tellingly, the album ends with a total collapse into delirium and madness following ‘Run Like Hell,’ making this one best played near the finish line.

‘Go!’ by Santigold feat. Karen O
Image: Atlantic Records

6. ‘Go!’ by Santigold feat. Karen O

This, friends, is your sprint song. Philly-based artist Santigold always gets our blood pumping, and in 2011 she collaborated with another, equally badass lady singer, Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O, to create this beat-heavy anthem. It's got swagger, it's got drive, and it's perfect for busting out a quick half-mile (or for furiously running in place—whichever you're in the mood for).

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‘Bad Moon Rising’ by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Image: Fantasy

7. ‘Bad Moon Rising’ by Creedence Clearwater Revival

Sometimes during a run, you're just trying to keep a steady pace and a smile on your face. Not every track has to be an angry sprint or a power anthem. CCR's 1969 single has both a steady beat and a laid-back vibe, making it the song you'll turn to when you're trying to remember why the hell you went running in the first place.

‘212’ by Azealia Banks feat. Lazy Jay

8. ‘212’ by Azealia Banks feat. Lazy Jay

Banks' 2011 track has a good beat, for sure, but it's her rapping style that drives the song—and us while we're running to it. There's an undeniable attitude in the music, the artist and her practically lazy, swear-laced threats that makes us want to get up in someone's face and fight—even if in reality we're just pounding the pavement.

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‘Lose Yourself’ by Eminem
Image: Shady Records

9. ‘Lose Yourself’ by Eminem

The first rap to win an Oscar for Best Song, this cut from 2002’s 8 Mile soundtrack is a blast of pure nervous aggression. Singing as B-Rabbit, his character in the movie, Eminem captures a rising rapper’s harsh back-and-forth of anxiety and ambition. (Thanks to a trick of the lyric, a big opportunity to ‘blow’ could also just be a chance to blow an opportunity.) Program the song for later in your run; it’s the ideal fuel to propel you beyond what you think your limits are.

‘Stronger’ by Kanye West
Image: Def Jam

10. ‘Stronger’ by Kanye West

Kanye makes no bones about lifting the hook of Daft Punk's robot-disco anthem ‘Harder Better Faster Stronger’ for his jacked-up 2007 tune. As you're running along, questioning the meaning of life and asking what this is all for, take a lesson from Ye, who, despite the seemingly effortless borrowing, obsessed over the single's mixing and production. It's a process, people!

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‘Dog Days Are Over’ by Florence and the Machine
Image: Island Records

11. ‘Dog Days Are Over’ by Florence and the Machine

This 2008 track builds momentum effortlessly, just like a run on a good day. (And speaking of which, the chorus is literally urging you to run, fast.) Florence might annoy the crap out of you, and this song was definitely overplayed for multiple years, but it's nevertheless energetic and uplifting in a way that gives you wings, whether you're running or not.

‘The Jean Genie’ by David Bowie
Image: EMI

12. ‘The Jean Genie’ by David Bowie

Bowie's 1972 single, the A-side to ‘Ziggy Stardust,’ has a chugging R&B riff and a steady beat that's perfect for a long-legged jog. One of the best parts of running is getting lost in your thoughts, the movement, the music—and we can't think of a more fun song to distract ourselves with. In Bowie's own words: let yourself go!

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‘Work Bitch’ by Britney Spears
Image: RCA

13. ‘Work Bitch’ by Britney Spears

In the arena of running songs with a motivational message, Britney’s got your back just like a guilt-inducing trainer with rippling abs would: by obnoxiously reminding you ‘no pain, no gain.’ Off 2013's Britney Jean, this single has glimmers of early Britney dance tracks plus an obvious EDM sheen. It's kind of an awful song (though by far the best on the album), but who cares? It’ll help you get those miles in, and remind you what you’re working toward: a hot body, a Bugatti… mostly that hot body. Now get to work, bitch.

‘Lust for Life’ by Iggy Pop
Image: RCA

14. ‘Lust for Life’ by Iggy Pop

The slam-bang drums on this Bowie-produced Iggy Pop classic provide the heartbeat of a particularly frantic pace, while the chugging guitar hook should keep you chugging along. It’s not surprising that ‘Lust for Life’ was used to score Trainspotting’s iconic montage of lowlives running from the law: With Iggy in your ear, there’s no stopping until those drums fall silent.

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‘Pump It Up’ by Elvis Costello
Image: Columbia Records

15. ‘Pump It Up’ by Elvis Costello

Costello’s 1978 single may seem a bit subdued (especially given its refrain), but the beat is so perfect for a steady running pace that we could literally do miles with it on repeat. It's poppy enough to keep us light on our feet, and gets a bolstered chorus and set of chords just when we're getting lazy. It also happens to be about releasing sexual frustration, which running is great for (though admittedly not as great as, er, pumping it).

‘Brutal’ by Olivia Rodrigo
Image: Geffen

16. ‘Brutal’ by Olivia Rodrigo

Wanna keep that Elvis Costello rhythm going but don’t want to listen to ‘Pump It Up’ on repeat? This interpolation by current pop queen heir apparent Olivia Rodrigo will do the trick. It’s basically the same song, reimagined with a fresh sheen of teenage angst. And lest you cry ripoff, Costello’s pretty cool with the homage, both giving Rodrigo the thumbs up and copping to his own history of cribbing from older songs and building upon them.

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‘Ace of Spades’ by Mötorhead
Image: Bronze Records

17. ‘Ace of Spades’ by Mötorhead

When Lemmy fires up that rumbling bass intro—the aural equivalent of exhaust fumes bellowing out of a tailpipe—sitting still ceases to be an option. You've got to move, and while an obnoxious Harley hog might be the most appropriate mode of transportation, your feet will do just fine. So let Phil ‘Philthy Animal’ Taylor's hellhound gallop set the pace, and get off your arse.

‘Paint It Black’ by the Rolling Stones
Image: Decca

18. ‘Paint It Black’ by the Rolling Stones

People run for exercise, for fun, for fresh air, sure, but sometimes we’re running something down—a bitterness or rage that needs to be expressed and exhausted. The Rolling Stones’ death-obsessed 1966 hit is ideal for that purpose: exercise as exorcism. The song may be most notable for Brian Jones’ groundbreaking sitar line, but drummer Charlie Watts—god rest his soul—gives it a relentless forward motion that bursts with fresh despair at each chorus. If you can’t outrun death, at least you can outpace it for a while.

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‘Drunk Girls’ by LCD Soundsystem

19. ‘Drunk Girls’ by LCD Soundsystem

Okay, we'll agree that running and dancing are two very distinct ways of moving our bodies. But this 2010 track—and most LCD songs in general—blur the lines and make your run feel like a party. It's easy to keep your feet moving for the fast-paced four minutes, but if you find yourself flagging, pretend those antagonistic panda furries from the music video are after you with spraypaint and eggs.

‘Shoes for Running’ by Big Boi feat. Wavves & B.O.B.
Image: Def Jam

20. ‘Shoes for Running’ by Big Boi feat. Wavves & B.O.B.

Indie darlings Wavves provide the weirdly haunting refrain – ‘The end is coming, I would race ya, But there's no running, it'll chase ya, death will hunt you down’ – on this propulsive offering from ATLien Big Boi. The song’s trancelike beat and Sir Lucious Leftfoot’s staccato delivery pair up beautifully for a hypnotic mid-run rhythm setter. Just make sure to keep an eye on your flank…

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‘All My Life’ by Foo Fighters
Image: RCA

21. ‘All My Life’ by Foo Fighters

If you need a little motivation to get you from the point of warming up (i.e. walking fast and fiddling with your iPod) to actually pounding the track, cue up this fiery Foo’s number from 2002. Its starting-block intro rumbles with pent-up energy, before a starter-pistol explosion hurls you into your running zone. Even the most normally tranquil athletes will find themselves singing along to Grohl’s defiant refrain—‘Done! Done! On to the next one!’—and that’s a promise.

‘Such Great Heights’ by the Postal Service
Image: Sub Pop

22. ‘Such Great Heights’ by the Postal Service

Is your pace lagging? Feeling a little drained? Perhaps there's a hill ahead. Don't worry—this much-loved 2003 hit from the Postal Service hits the sweet spot of running cadence. In layman’s terms: let your feet hit the pavement on the beat of this song and you’ll be out of your mid-run funk in no time.

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‘Run Run Run’ by the Who
Image: Polydor

23. ‘Run Run Run’ by the Who

Just watching Keith Moon drum takes your breath away—it's impossible to imagine sustaining that level of gonzo energy for an entire song, let alone a gig. Slip this opening cut from the Who's 1966 sophomore album, A Quick One, into your running mix and hopefully some of that manic force transfers to your limbs. Bounding along to Moon's splashy racket keeps those knees high, those arms pumping… okay, yes, sometimes we air drum while jogging.

‘Soul Makossa’ by Manu Dibango
Image: Atlantic

24. ‘Soul Makossa’ by Manu Dibango

The late, great Manu Dibango’s six-minute classic meets at the intersection of Afrobeat, disco and soul, with its pulsing rhythm proving the ultimate pace-setter, provided you can keep moving without stopping to groove to the earworm of a saxaphone line. And good luck with that: It’s repeated constantly throughout this certified jam. But hey, dancing is a form of cardio too.

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‘Born to Run’ by Bruce Springsteen
Image: Columbia Records

25. ‘Born to Run’ by Bruce Springsteen

Get into the headspace of Bruce's nameless protagonist: stuck in turnpike traffic with everyone else who's trying to flee the same depressing Jersey town, trying to sweet talk Wendy who's actually probably doing just fine thanks very much. It's about as frazzled and out-of-sorts as the Boss gets, a state of mind that mirrors how you're feeling right before the runner's high kicks in.

‘Let’s Go on a Run’ by Chance the Rapper
Image: Chance the Rapper

26. ‘Let’s Go on a Run’ by Chance the Rapper

All of Chancey’s bravado belies the fact that the Chicago rapper is basically a human Labrador excited about everything, including going running. So he wrote the ideal running song. This is basically what would happen if your ultra-friendly track coach was also a world-class rapper.

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‘Wolf Like Me’ by TV on the Radio
Image: Interscope

27. ‘Wolf Like Me’ by TV on the Radio

This 2006 track—the band's most successful single in the U.S.—has a driving beat and propelling lyrics, making it easy to pick up your pace and focus in on the task at hand. Or foot, rather. The song is like a mini-workout in itself, with a slower and more subdued midsection to give your legs a break before picking back up and compelling you to fly through the very last second.

‘Runnin’ by Sinkane
Image: DFA Records

28. ‘Runnin’ by Sinkane

Sudanese percussionist and Yeasayer, Caribou collaborator Ahmed Gallab jumped out of the solo career starting blocks with this slice of confectionary Afrobeat. "Gotta keep on runnin', runnin'," he sings in a sweet falsetto over funky wah-wah and cassette tape warble. The secret to the best jogging music is that it's interchangeable with great dance music. Nothing Gallab has made in the years since this 2012 debut has matched its irresistibility—but nothing has to. He's earned a place on every running mix.

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‘Race with the Devil’ by Girlschool
Image: Castle

29. ‘Race with the Devil’ by Girlschool

Forget your fancy Nike Free Flyknit 3.0 shoes. You really want to fly down the sidewalk? Pour this scorching she-devil headbanger into your intake valves. Girlschool, a London all-female hair metal outfit, slays like a halberd coated in strawberry pink acrylic on this 1980 cover of an equally ripping 1968 proto-punk blazer by the Gun. For those who jog like they're being chased, it's like sprinting on hot coals.

‘The Distance’ by Cake
Image: Capricorn

30. ‘The Distance’ by Cake

Could there be a better way to start your run than with John McCrea’s deadpanned opening words? When the bass kicks in on Cake's 1996 track, it's time to go. The driving jam (pun intended) is a great lead-off track—you might not be going for speed, but you’re definitely going the distance. Yaa!

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