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This Music May Help You Run Faster

We all have those few songs we stick towards the end of our running playlists for when we know we’ll be in dire need of a boost. Everyone’s got their personal preferences — whether it’s a good EDM song for you or an 80’s power ballad for your mom — but we wanted to get a more macro picture. We took a look at all the music runners have been pounding the pavement to in Runkeeper this last year to get a comprehensive look at what music makes you move the best. Warning: it’s about to get pretty weird in here.

Music Feature

Top 40 songs for speed*

  1. Livin’ la Vida Loca, Ricky Martin
  2. Praise You In This Storm, Casting Crowns
  3. Can’t Stop, Maroon 5
  4. Ironic, Alanis Morissette
  5. Contact, Daft Punk
  6. Times Like These, Foo Fighters
  7. Mr. Saxobeat — Radio Edit, Alexandra Stan
  8. He Is With Us, Love & The Outcome
  9. Your Love, The Outfield
  10. Fastest Girl In Town, Miranda Lambert
  11. Kiss You, One Direction
  12. Mylo Xyloto, Coldplay
  13. Paradise By the Dashboard Light, Meat Loaf
  14. New Love, Maroon 5
  15. Ridin’ Solo, Jason Derulo
  16. Jump, Rihanna
  17. Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It), Beyoncé
  18. It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ’N’ Roll), AC/DC
  19. Work It — Promo, Missy Elliott
  20. Lose Yourself, Eminem
  21. Mr. Brightside, The Killers
  22. Treasured Soul, Michael Calfan
  23. Moondance, Van Morrison
  24. Red Lights, Tiësto
  25. Jessie’s Girl, Rick Springfield
  26. Hot n Cold, Katy Perry
  27. She’s Alright, Stereophonics
  28. Let It Go, Idina Menzel
  29. Cups (Movie Version), Anna Kendrick
  30. Immigrant Song, Led Zeppelin
  31. She Looks So Perfect, 5 Seconds of Summer
  32. Skyfall, ADELE
  33. Play That Funky Music, Wild Cherry
  34. Good Vibrations (feat. Loleatta Holloway), Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch
  35. Snow (Hey Oh), Red Hot Chili Peppers
  36. Jungle — Remix, X Ambassadors
  37. Drop It Like This — Original Mix, TST
  38. Queen of Peace, Florence + The Machine
  39. Troublemaker (feat. Flo Rida), Olly Murs
  40. Lego House, Ed Sheeran

Livin' La Vida Loca

That’s right, runners’ speed on average increased the most when listening to “Livin’ La Vida Loca.” The good news here is that it seems no genre is excluded. Latin pop, Christian rock, country, rap, top 40, acoustic singer songwriters, Romanian vocalists (I had to look up Alexandra Stan), even Meat Loaf makes an appearance. Meat Loaf! The bad news is this is going to be a pretty jarring playlist to run to. Because I would do anything for a run, but I won’t do that.

Don’t worry, we’ve already built this playlist for you on Spotify.

*Songs appear on this Spotify playlist in descending order of those that had the greatest impact on runners’ speed.

If that mix is just a little toooo weird for you and you’d rather stick with a single speed-inducing artist for the course of your run, we’ve got just the answer for you. Hands down you should listen to….

That’s right, not only is the Japanese metal-pop girl band Babymetal taking the world by storm, they’re whipping feet into a fury. They were the artist where we observed the largest increase in speed as runners listened to them. Of course they’re not your only option, but if you really want to go faster, you better get comfortable with Japanese music, as bands Hi-Standard and 木村カエラ (Kaela Kimura) also hit the top 5.

Top 10 artists that will help you run faster

  1. BABYMETAL
  2. Hi-STANDARD
  3. Love & The Outcome
  4. Lucinda Williams
  5. 木村カエラ
  6. Blue Öyster Cult
  7. Drapht
  8. Lighthouse Family
  9. PANG!
  10. Ben Lee

But faster isn’t always better. Especially if you’re one of those people takes off way too soon and leaves nothing in the tank for those later miles. If you have a hard time remembering to pace yourself, consider some of these songs, which definitely have a slowing effect for Runkeeper runners.

Top 40 songs for people who really need to pace themselves**

  1. Elsa and Anna, Christophe Beck
  2. Send My Love (To Your New Lover), ADELE
  3. Save the World (Radio Mix), Swedish House Mafia
  4. Lights (Single Version), Ellie Goulding
  5. Starlight, Taylor Swift
  6. Material Girl, Madonna
  7. Ignorance, Paramore
  8. Creep, Radiohead
  9. White Blank Page, Mumford & Sons
  10. Starting Over, Mr.Children
  11. Powerful (feat. Ellie Goulding & Tarrus Riley), Major Lazer
  12. Gold, Imagine Dragons
  13. Smoke and Mirrors, Imagine Dragons
  14. ID — Ultra Music Festival Anthem, Kygo
  15. Come And Get It, John Newman
  16. Hit It, Deorro
  17. Thunderstruck, AC/DC
  18. Love Don’t Die, The Fray
  19. Show Me Love — EDX Remix / Radio Edit, Sam Feldt
  20. So F**kin’ Romantic, Matthew Koma
  21. Try, Colbie Caillat
  22. Close Your Eyes, Meghan Trainor
  23. Country Grammar (Hot…), Nelly
  24. Ingen annan rör mig som du, Norlie & KKV
  25. Harder Better Faster Stronger, Daft Punk
  26. Come Out and Play, The Offspring
  27. Welcome To Paradise, Green Day
  28. The Party (This Is How We Do It) [feat. Montell Jordan], Joe Stone
  29. Lift Your Head Weary Sinner (Chains), Crowder
  30. Life Is Worth Living, Justin Bieber
  31. F**kin’ Problems, A$AP Rocky
  32. Eye of the Needle, Sia
  33. One Call Away, Charlie Puth
  34. Lips of an Angel, Hinder
  35. Beautiful, Superfly
  36. Black Hole Sun, Soundgarden
  37. Lose Control (feat. Ciara & Fat Man Scoop), Missy Elliott
  38. Headlines, Drake
  39. I’ll Be Waiting, ADELE
  40. I Like Tuh, Carnage

Is anyone really shocked that Mumford & Sons puts you to sleep — err — slows you down? Yeah, me neither. And while “Let It Go” is sure to get your kids fired up (and places #28 on that speed list), the more subdued instrumental “Elsa and Anna” track from the Frozen soundtrack probably isn’t going to help you break any records.

Listen here:

**Songs appear here in order of those that have the most slowing effect on runners. Songs not available in the Spotify Playlist include: #2 “Send My Love (To Your New Lover),” ADELE; #5 “Starlight,” Taylor Swift, #10: “Starting Over,” Mr.Children, #35 “『Beautiful』,” Superfly.

False promises

A couple songs don’t quite do what you’d think. Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” appears to be associated with slower-than-average paces, for instance, as does Daft Punk’s “Harder Faster Better Stronger.” Daft will have to take consolation in the fact that their song “Contact” takes the No. 5 spot for songs that speed you up.

Mr. and Mrs. Popular

If you’re less worried about speed and more in need of running music inspiration, we’ve also taken a look at the artists and albums that get played the most on runs. Of course your perfect running soundtrack is going to vary from your college-aged cousin’s, so we had some fun slicing and dicing the results across different demographics.

Remember when Apple dramatically concluded their 2014 Apple Live event with the surprise announcement they’d be installing U2’s Songs of Innocencealbum on everyone’s phone? Well, for most people it’s stuck and made its way onto their running playlists. It’s unclear whether that’s intentional on the listener’s part or no, so that’s why we’ve bumped up these next few top 10 lists to 11 entries. I’m sure glad we did because it allowed Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s The Heist to sneak in onto this one.

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Top 11 most popular albums for running

  1. Songs of Innocence, U2
  2. 1989, Taylor Swift
  3. Title, Meghan Trainor
  4. Night Visions, Imagine Dragons
  5. x, Ed Sheeran
  6. V, Maroon 5
  7. Purpose, Justin Bieber
  8. PRISM , Katy Perry
  9. Native, OneRepublic
  10. TALKING IS HARD, WALK THE MOON
  11. The Heist, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

We also took a look at which artists get played the most frequently on runs, beyond any one particular album. You’ll definitely see some overlap between this list and the one above it, but also a few new faces.

Top 11 most popular artists for running

  1. U2
  2. Taylor Swift
  3. Avicii
  4. Maroon 5
  5. Katy Perry
  6. Coldplay
  7. Calvin Harris
  8. Eminem
  9. David Guetta
  10. Justin Bieber
  11. Rihanna

Of course U2 tops the charts again here, but if we exclude Songs of Innocencefrom the running, U2 drops from #1 all the way to #24. And U2 doesn’t rank high at all for runners 24 and under, even when Songs of Innocence is included. Looks like they know how to get things off their phone. Millennials (aka snake people), you so savvy. Speaking of those young people…

Here are the top 10 most popular artists for runners 24 & under

  1. Justin Bieber
  2. Avicii
  3. Taylor Swift
  4. The Weeknd
  5. Calvin Harris
  6. Drake
  7. One Direction
  8. Maroon 5
  9. Ed Sheeran
  10. David Guetta

Even though Bieber’s clearly trying to appeal to the older crowd with this latest album, the under 25 runners were the ones who kept him at the top of running playlists. And on the other end of the spectrum….

Top 11 most popular artists for runners 45 & older

  1. U2
  2. Adele
  3. Coldplay
  4. Maroon 5
  5. Queen
  6. Katy Perry
  7. Avicii
  8. Taylor Swift
  9. Rihanna
  10. P!nk
  11. The Beatles

Again, we’re not sure whether keeping that U2 album on their phones was intentional for this crowd or not, but just in case we went all the way to 11 so The Beatles could sneak in. Impressive, considering their music only hit streaming music services like Spotify in December.

Battle of the sexes: Madonna vs. Pitbull

Let’s kick off this last section with a fun trivia question.

Which of these artists is more popular with men than with women?

A. Pitbull

B. Madonna

C. Avicii

D. Pharrell Williams

ANSWER:

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B) Madonna, the material girl herself!

Men are also more likely to run to Foo Fighters, AC/DC, Queen, Metallica, Eminem, Michael Jackson, and Kanye West. Women runners are a lot more likely to listen to P!nk, Meghan Trainor, Pitbull, One Direction, Mark Ronson, Pharrell Williams, and Kelly Clarkson.

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Whew. That was fun. Knowledge is power, so we hope you we hope you feel the boost on your next run! Be sure to download Runkeeper if you haven’t yet. You can listen your Spotify and iTunes playlists directly through the app, and even get a recap at the end of your run to see you pace breakdown per song. We’d love to know how your individual report compares to these macro results. We’ll also be announcing big improvements to the music experience in Runkeeper very soon, so stay tuned!

Major thanks to Runkeeper’s senior data analyst Chris Drouin for digging into these numbers and offering excellent voiceover. Results are based on iTunes and Spotify music played through Runkeeper from 2015 to January 2016.

Erin Glabets

About the author:
Erin Glabets

Erin runs brand and communications for Runkeeper, and likes to run all over Boston, too.

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