The 33 Best Marathon Songs of All Time

OK, if there is one thing I am good at, it’s crafting playlists for long-distance runs. Years of solo miles have attuned me to the needs of every stage in a race—the first burst right out the gate when you feel invincible, the last 6 miles while you think you might die, and the long, easy lope in between. It takes a lot more than just hitting “Shuffle” and hoping for the best.

Throughout those years, I’ve also learned what I like and do not like, and none of it makes any sense. Science points to specific beats per minute as better for runners than others, but in my experience, the only rule about jog jams is that it be both catchy and transcendent. The last thing I want to hear at the half-marathon mile marker is some garbage radio hit that keeps my mind on the ground; I want to be in the clouds. I want to daydream, make plans, imagine my entire life ahead of me. A good running song will distract you from the task at hand and make you happy to be alive.

To that end, here are my top 33 all-time favorite running songs organized around a long race. Imagine that the list starts when the gun goes off, segues into an easy pace, and then picks up again for the sprint home. Happy trails.

  • Rob Zombie: “Dragula (Hot Rod Herman Remix)”
  • ZZ Top: “Legs”
  • Smashing Pumpkins: “Cherub Rock”
  • Girl Talk: “Play Your Part, Part 1”
  • Calvin Harris & Kelis v. Sex Ray Vision: “Bounce My Beach House”
  • Jennifer Lopez v. Darude: “Sand on the Floor”
  • Lloyd with Andre 3000: “Dedication to My Ex (Miss That)”
  • Selena Gomez: “Come & Get It (Dave Aude Remix)”
  • Sheila E.: “The Glamorous Life”
  • Slightly Stoopid: “Above the Clouds”
  • Nelly v. Lynyrd Skynyrd: “Sweet Home Country Grammar”
  • Eagles: “Too Many Hands”
  • Bob Marley: “Could You Be Loved”
  • Depeche Mode: “Policy of Truth”
  • Donna Summer: “I Feel Love”
  • TV on the Radio: “Crying (Telepathe Remix)”
  • Kerry Muzzey: “Palladio:Rebuilt”
  • Vangelis: “Chariots of Fire Theme”
  • Tears for Fears: “Shout”
  • Jon Secada: “Just Another Day”
  • Daniel Bedingfield: “Gotta Get Thru This”
  • Groovejet: “If This Ain’t Love (Radio Edit)”
  • Janet Jackson: “Love Could Never Do (Without You)”
  • Spencer Davis Group: “Gimme Some Lovin’”
  • Quad City DJs: “Space Jam”
  • Billy Joel: “We Didn’t Start the Fire”
  • Justin Bieber: “All Around the World”
  • Naked & Famous: “Youngblood”
  • Chemical Brothers: “Galvanize”
  • Killers: “All These Things That I’ve Done”
  • Usher: “More Remix”
  • Calvin Harris: “Feel So Close (Nero Remix)”
  • Janet Jackson: “Rhythm Nation”