Music really does make things better, even long, strenuous workouts which could threaten to sap the joy from the festive season. Since I run in a group, I don’t usually run with music on. But I find a ready playlist useful if I am running long distances alone or challenging myself with speed work. Here is a list of songs—a mix of favourites from the 1990s-2000s—for fitness enthusiasts.
There is something beautiful about long runs, with that languid pace to hum songs or think about the day ahead. A mix of hip hop beats and fun tunes will add a zing.
Stronger By Kanye West
Every time this song comes up on the playlist, one can’t help but hum to this part—N-now th-that that don’t kill me/ Can only make me stronger / I need you to hurry up now / Cause I can’t wait much longer. The beats of this 2007 hit are perfect for a steady long run (albeit with some head bobbing thrown in, and the occasional grunge face).
Also read: How to run better and other fitness tips
Run Run Run By Jill Scott
Hello to woman power. Scott’s 2015 song is a great pick for strong solo runs. The background beats help you push on, the surge of energy giving you the confidence that no one can slow you down. The only downside: The song is too short to last even a kilometre.
Fireflies By Owl City
Nobody would have thought a song like this could figure in a running playlist. But it’s one of those numbers which lets you tune out and just keep going. The lyrics are simple enough to imprint themselves in your memory. It’s not the most inspiring of songs, though, so it may be best on a day when you just want to run and enjoy the route, or collect your thoughts.
Chak De India By Sukhwinder Singh
This one is for those who would prefer a fun Bollywood number any day over a rock or hip hop track. This song, in particular, brings a smile to the face every time.
I dislike speed work and always try to find excuses to avoid it. If you are like me, choose tempo tracks with loud beats to drown the laboured sounds of breathing (read: gasping for air).
Cannonball By The Breeders
Skip the first 30 seconds of the song and you have a winner, custom-built for speed track sessions. The pace picks up one-and-a-half minutes into the song, then slows down again. So, it’s best suited to a training session with a mix of paces.
Wolf Like Me By TV on the Radio
This song has a high number of beats per minute (around 170) that make it ideal for a sprint. It’s a five-minute track, with a break at around two minutes, so you will have to plan your run carefully. The drumming in the background works for any type of fast run though. And it fills me up with the kind of feral energy I always hope for during races.
Also read: The best exercises for improving your running technique
Smells Like Teen Spirit By Nirvana
A classic like this simply can’t be left out. This rock hit from the 1990s can be perfect for a run on days when you are feeling particularly low and need to vent. I know, I have more than a few of those.
At the Gym
The workout songs are, again, an eclectic mix—slow grinds for lifting days, peppier music for cardio.
Khuda Hafiz By Lucky Ali, Sunitha Sarathy, Karthik from Yuva
It starts on a mellow note and suddenly picks up tempo to throw energy at you. At that point in the song, it feels any weight is doable and any task achievable. It has just enough beats to let you bask in high spirits for a good workout.
It’s My Life By Bon Jovi
Every single gym I have ever stepped into has played this song. For a generation that grew up on this number, hearing it blare from gym speakers is like a sudden shot of adrenaline. Choose it for fast cardio sessions. To make it harder, plan your break for when the music halts for a few seconds at around the third minute.