In the running community, there’s a small group of serious runners who look down upon the practice of plugging in a pair of headphones before hitting the road. While it’s true that there are plenty of valid arguments for running sans musical motivation, there’s also a great deal of research that has shown how exercise, particularly running, can be optimized when a good beat is thrown into the mix.
Specifically, you can use the beats of your favorite songs during speed workouts to help set and maintain specific pace goals. While the match-up between a song's beats-per-minute and mile pace will vary slightly from runner to runner, general rule of thumb says that matching your cadence to a song of about 155 beats per minute would average out to approximately a 9:30 minutes/mile pace. Every increase or decrease of five beats per minute would subtract or add about 30 seconds to your mile time, respectively.
So, depending on your level of fitness as a runner, you can choose your favorites from some of the following songs to help pump up your motivation and pace your speed workouts.
Speed Workout Playlist Songs
Harder to Breathe by Maroon 5—150 BPM
Only the Good Die Young by Billy Joel—152 BPM
Sex on Fire by Kings of Leon—153 BPM
Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen—156 BPM
Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked by Cage the Elephant—156 BPM
Oh Gravity! by Switchfoot—157 BPM
I Can Transform Ya by Chris Brown (ft. Lil’ Wayne)—167 BPM
Riot Rhythm by Sleigh Bells—170 BPM
Upgrade You by Beyonce—169 BPM
Rude Boy by Rihanna—174
Empire State of Mind by Jay Z (ft. Alicia Keys)—174 BPM
Such Great Heights by The Postal Service—175 BPM
Lola by The Kinks—176 BPM
Heartless by Kanye West—176 BPM
Rock and Roll by Led Zeppelin—181 BPM
Related: Can Music Make You Run Faster? Read more to find out how to craft a playlist that will perfectly match your goal pace.
Looking for more playlists to pump-up your workouts and races? Try…