Reporter's Notebook

The Weirdest, Greatest Songs on Your Running Playlist
Show Description +

Readers pick their favorite oddball tracks. Listen to all of the suggestions on Spotify here, and a curated, hour-long playlist of them here.

Show 11 Newer Notes

Track of the Day: 'Ghost'

A reader adds several suggestions to the work-out series sparked by Adrienne:

I’m a spinning instructor and an electronic music aficionado, so I’ve given a fair bit of thought to which throbbing songs will best fit with my classes while still being somewhat interesting. Dubstep works well for spin, i.e. trying to time hard efforts to “the drop.” A couple really fun and motivational songs I always turn to on my playlists:

“As Serious As Your Life” by Four Tet
“White Noise/Red Meat” by Dada Life
“Ghost” by Neutral Milk Hotel [embedded above]
“Shipping up to Boston” by The Dropkick Murphys

Embed these in your playlist and watch your fitness increase by 17%.

I can definitely vouch for “Ghost”; all of Neutral Milk Hotel’s Aeroplane Over the Sea is bracing to run to.

The latest contributor to our series recommends a song to get your New Year’s resolution on its feet:

I don’t know how weird this is, but one of my favs for workouts is Muse’s “Knights of Cydonia.” It’s got a great beat and a relentless momentum that just builds and builds and keeps me moving.

Update from another reader:

In my humble opinion, no mention of Knights is complete without a link to Muse’s amazing performance at Wembley in 2007.

A reader responds to Adrienne’s bleg with some German electronic:

“Exterminate, Annihilate, Destroy” by Rotersand is probably the weirdest song on my running playlist. It’s damn effective, because it has the pace of a march sped up for the purposes of being an EBM [electronic body music] track. It also samples Dr. Who for the duration. So it’s an EBM Dalek march, but it’s wonderful.

More recommendations from readers here and here. Send yours to hello@theatlantic.com.

A reader joins this one:

M83’s “Oblivion” is my weirdest, greatest pick for your running playlist. It’s from a science fiction movie of the same name that didn’t do very well critically or at the box office, but the track makes up for all of that. There’s M83 creating these immense walls of sound while Susanne Sundfør’s vocals crash against massive drums and a swelling orchestral accompaniment. As it ends, it suddenly vanishes into a tranquil piano outro.

A reader starts off our series of the “weirdest, greatest” songs to run to:

I start my run to “O… Saya” from the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack (A R Rahman feat. MIA). It starts slowly, not unlike my body at the beginning of a run. It builds intensity with Taiko drums, which reminds my legs that yes, running is a thing they do. The guitar starts, legs slightly warm, head up—yep, I can do this.  By the time MIA starts singing about running, speed, and ninjas, I feel like I too could conquer Who Wants to Be A Millionaire—or at least feel smarter than the Fox News talking head on the screen on my treadmill (it’s there by default; I’m just too lazy to change the channel).

Have a running track to recommend for our New Year’s list? Drop us an email.

You know the kind of person who has the best recommendations for everything—books, restaurants, Netflix binges, whatever? That’s my colleague Sophie. So when she casually mentioned “Work Bitch,” “Wolf Like Me,” and “Clearest Blue” as running mix must-adds in The Atlantic’s round-up of favorite songs this year, I added all three.

And my run this morning was so great, all thanks to Sophie, Britney Spears, TV on the Radio, and CHVRCHES. I actually found the vocals on “Clearest Blue,” the CHVRCHES track, a little too effervescent for the point in my run (toward the end) when it came on. When I’m getting tired, I prefer music that at least alludes to hardship—you know, references to vomiting up mom’s spaghetti (Eminem's “Lose Yourself”) or prayers that my feet won’t stop functioning (Kanye’s “Jesus Walks”).

My running playlist is mostly hip-hop. But there are a few songs that I’ve stuck with over the years that are a little different. My favorite track for a long uphill run, for example, is Ravel’s Boléro. It may sound weird, certainly different than hip-hop, but I swear it’s the best.

So now I’m wondering: What’s the most unusual or underappreciated track on your favorite running or workout playlist? Drop me a line at hello@theatlantic.com.