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The Best Playlists We Ran to in 2021

Let's examine our music game (thanks, Spotify Wrapped).

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For me, music and running pair beautifully. When the tempo of a song aligns in time with my footsteps, not only does my movement feel smoother, but so do the inner-workings of my mind. I don’t think of the lyrics and noise as a distraction to my effort, but more of a complementing element that moves through my body.

And I live for a good playlist. 

If you do too, or want to start reaping some of the good vibes and benefits—research shows music can reduce the perception of effort in endurance running and can reduce mental fatigue to keep you sharp—of running in tune, we rounded up some of the most-listened to and recommended playlists across a multitude of genres. 

RELATED: The Best (Taylor’s Version) Songs to Run To

Best for a Run

Hoping to include a wide range of genres for varying tastes in this round up, I was surprised to discover that I could really run to anything. But if it’s speed in particular that you’re going for, some genres may be better than others—namely, rock and roll.  

Analysts at Perform, a music-delivering fitness app, leveraged data from the app’s subscribers across 16,000 runs and found that people who ran to punk and rock music had the fastest running paces on average. Metal was also in the top 5, with hip-hop ranked third, and electronic fourth. Listeners of pop and show tunes were among the slowest on average. No wonder we hear classic rock blaring frequently at gyms. “I love rock ‘n’ roll,” to quote Joan Jett. 

The following playlists include that heavy sound, along with pop, electronic, hip hop, indie, country, and even classical music.

Indie x Running

Stand out tracks: “Genghis Khan” by Miike Snow, “Go” by The Black Keys

Bird Beats

This is a great multi-genre playlist curated by Oiselle Volee runner Rebecca Trachsel who runs the blog Running With Music. Check in for fresh beats, as Trachsel continues to update the mix.

Stand out tracks: “Good Morning” by Max Frost, “Machine” by MisterWives

Listen Like Des

Curated by elite marathoner Des Linden, this playlist is a whole vibe and that vibe is four hours of cool.

Stand out tracks: “Big River” by Johnny Cash, “Knock Knock” by Mac Miller

Let’s Sweat

Often-updated and seemingly endless with a runtime of more than 24 hours and more than 3,000 tracks, this is a repository of some of the best workout songs in existence.

Stand out tracks: “Heartbreaker (feat. Jay-Z)” by Mariah Carey, “Tempo (feat. Missy Elliott)” by Lizzo

Let’s Get Physical (80’s Workout Jams)

Stand out tracks: “Should I Stay or Should I Go” by The Clash, “Blue Monday” by New Order

Classical For Running

I admit that I was really wary of the idea of running to classical music, but when I saw more than just a few classical running playlists across the music streaming platforms, I had to see what it was all about. The result? A really focused run where I felt both tuned into my body and my surroundings. Definitely something I’ll try again. 

Stand out tracks: “Zitatort” by David Reichelt and Munich Radio Orchestra, “Concerto for Strings No. 5 in A Major: I. Presto” by Francesco Durante and Concerto Köln

RELATED: Running to the Beat: How the Right Music Can Boost Your Workout

Best for Warming Up and Cooling Down

These playlists give just enough punch to match your raising heart rate, but won’t have you going out too fast too early.

Vibes 27

Curated by Australian hurdler and Olympian Liz Clay, you’re bound to find something new and groovy to get you moving.

Stand out tracks: “Outside (Better Days)” by Blueface and Og Bobby Billions, “Brighter Side” by ARTY

Country Workout Motivation

Stand out tracks: “Seein’ Red” by Dustin Lynch, “The Bull” by Kip Moore