Building a Perfect Playlist

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Creating a perfect playlist Building a Perfect Playlist

Music is… Well, it’s kind of everywhere! You go in a store, and the radio’s playing. You get into your friend’s car and hear a song blasting through the speakers. You watch TV and detect music in the background of the scenes. It’s such an integrated part of life that it would almost be naïve to think of separating yourself from it in any sort of significant way.

Ever since the Walkman started letting people play their cassettes in a portable way, people have been able to submerge into music while on the go and without needing to share that music with others. Not only does this give you something unrelated to fitness to enjoy as you tend to your fitness, but it also adds another dimension to the workout since music itself can invigorate you to push a little harder if you pick tunes that fit the workout style. This is something I’m familiar with since I may or may not have 80’s power ballads on my yoga playlist!

But we’re not talking about yoga! We’re talking about running! For running, the slow, fluid sounds of ballads don’t fit because the purpose is to be more energized and faster-paced. Playing something slow and draggy, even if it’s a beautiful song, could have that slow song sneaking into your subconscious and slowing down your running pace. That’s something to avoid when building the perfect playlist!

To me, the perfect playlist should be upbeat, but it shouldn’t be too full of the most explosive of songs. If you’re running for a half an hour, after all, you might not want to run at your top speed the whole time, and having an incredibly fast song after an incredibly fast song might cause you to mimic that pace to run at full speed more than you need to. This could be less than ideal for three reasons. First, slowing your pace from time to time can give your body a bit of a break while it’s still working. Second, working out with those intervals of varied intensity can improve the workout itself, depending on what your goal is. And third, focusing only on your pace could negatively impact how much you enjoy your workout.

The perfect playlist can also provide a change in your day-to-day workout, maybe by creating challenges for yourself based on the list or by playing a different genre of music for different runs.

Here are some ideas consider when building your playlist:

  • Do you give yourself that break after the most intense song?
  • Do you go back to a higher tempo not too long after that break?
  • Even at the beginning of the list, do you have a song or two to help you work up to the most energetic song on your list?
  • Warm-ups can help get you into your workout zone physically and mentally, so did you take that into consideration with your song choices?
  • How about a cool-down song? Do you have one of those?
  • Is there enough variety to keep you interested?

These lists can also be individual because music preferences vary from person to person. Even if you would agree that a certain song has the drive and energy to be a perfect workout song—like “Eye of the Tiger”—if you don’t like it, it could be an ear-sore, maybe even cause unneeded stress in your workout. The important thing is to figure out what works for you and go with that. What genres of music do you like? What songs stick out to you in those categories? And, of course, what songs would make you energized and ready to run?

In the end, I decided to go with the upcoming categories of playlists to explore, and I tried to make sure I started and ended with songs that had gentler feels to them to allow for warm-up and cool-down tunes. My music preferences might be very different from yours, so it’s completely okay if you hate some of these songs! As I said, these should be personal. Oh, and country that is more pop than country went on my pop list—because these are my lists, and that’s what I wanted!

So, as for my designed playlists…


  • Pretty Woman – Roy Orbison
  • Johnny B. Goode – Chuck Berry
  • Ain’t Too Proud to Beg – The Temptations
  • Promised Land – Elvis Presley
  • Brown-Eyed Handsome Man – Buddy Holly
  • I Fought the Law – The Bobby Fuller Four
  • Keep A-Knockin’ – The Everly Brothers
  • Hit the Road Jack – Ray Charles
  • Coming on Strong – Brenda Lee
  • Secret Agent Man – Johnny Rivers

Classic Rock

  • Immigrant Song – Led Zepplin
  • The House is Rockin’ – Stevie Ray Vaughan
  • Tuff Enuff – The Fabulous Thunderbirds
  • Travelin’ Band – Creedence Clearwater Revival
  • 20th Century Boy – T. Rex
  • Paradise City – Guns N’ Roses
  • Devil with a Blue Dress – Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels
  • Viva Las Vegas – ZZ Top
  • Rock! Rock! Till You Drop! – Def Leppard
  • Get Ready – Rare Earth

Rock  (Non-Classic)

  • Better Now – Collective Soul
  • Heaven Sent – Hinder
  • Never Gonna Stop Me – Rob Zombie
  • Down with the Sickness – Disturbed
  • Fool for Your Lovin’ – Jorn Lande
  • Animal I Have Become – Three Days Grace
  • Last Time – Fuel
  • If You Only Knew – Shinedown
  • Garden of Eden – John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band
  • Calling – Taproot


  • Shake If Off – Taylor Swift
  • Sugar – Maroon 5
  • Trouble – Pink
  • Thriller – Michael Jackson
  • Umbrella – Rihanna
  • Jump, Jive, and Wail – The Brian Setzer Orchestra
  • Pump it – The Black Eyes Peas
  • Good girl – Carrie Underwood
  • Wishing I Was There – Natalie Imbruglia
  • Gone girl – Payton Rae


  • Tearin’ It Up & Burnin’ It Down – Garth Brooks
  • Laredo – Chris Cagle
  • TROUBLE – Travis Tritt
  • My Maria – Brooks & Dunn
  • Human Cannonball – Webb Wilder
  • Fast as you – Dwight Yoakam
  • Lover, Lover – Jerrod Niemann
  • Gone – Montgomery Gentry
  • Do You Wanna Make Something of It – Jo Dee Messina
  • Hammer and Nails – Radney Foster

Now let us know – what are your perfect songs on your playlist?