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Illustration by Roy Wilhelm

The Running Playlist: What’s Your Power Song?

For me, it’s OMD’s “Enola Gay.” A little unexpected, I know. But when that song comes up on my running playlist, I forget that my legs feel heavy and push a little harder. In fact, Dr. Costas Karageorghis, an expert on the effects of music on exercise at England’s Brunel University, suggests that people run up to 15 percent faster when listening to music. Purists might say that tunes distract from proper form and pure focus. But for most of us, music helps keep us going significantly longer than when just listening to the voices in our head, that inevitably want us to stop immediately and get a bagel.

We asked some of our favorite professional runner friends to reveal which songs really get them pumping, listed below. “Good Feeling” by Flo Rida pop up on two lists—and we agree, it will really get you hustling. So what do you need? A slow build? A raging tempo? Post your power tunes below. We’ve only got four weeks until Memorial Day. Better make each run count!

The Pros’ Picks

Megan Lund-Lizotte, our new running blogger, is decorated half and full marathon runner with a focus on road and mountain running. She also trains and coaches runners, which will be the focus of her posts (which begin next week).

Michael Wardian is a master of both road and trail running, with more than 150 marathons, 60 ultramarathons, and 20 triathlons under his belt. Get his trail running tips here.

“Thunderstruck” by AC/DC (think it is just because I like the tempo and was warm up song for lacrosse growing up).
“California Girls” by Katie Perry (that is like a guilty pleasure song, catchy hook and I like Snoop Dogg)
“Peace Frog” by the Doors (again, nice tempo and gets me pumped for some reason)

Deena Kastor set the American record for the half marathon—twice—won the 10,000-meter national championships four times, and snagged a bronze in the marathon at the 2004 Olympic Games, among a laundry list of other achievements. Get her road running tips here.

“Beautiful Day” by U2
• “Good Feeling” by Flo Rida
“Liberation” by Matt Darey

Caitlin Smith is Bay Area-based runner taking the competitive running world by storm. She is a top finisher in the marathon and the 50km trail race. Stay tuned for more on her…

• “Good Day” by Nappy Roots
• “Fortune Days” by the Glitch Mob
• “Chicken Fried” by the Zak Brown Band

Barefoot” Ted McDonald played a central role in Christopher McDougall’s breakout book, Born to Run, and has  become a leading spokesman for the wonders of barefoot running, particularly for those with injuries stemming from footwear. Read his barefoot running tips here.

Per Ted: “My playlist is unique in that I know the composer musicians on all the albums (few) on my iPhone.
• Michael Maricle (from Seattle) especially on the album Bloom: Beautiful Worlds 
• Angelo Spencer & Les Hauts (his wife was Kimya Dawson)
•. Also the eclectic and awesome local public radio station has incredible music DJs at KEXP 90.3 Seattle

Your turn! Post your favorite running songs below.