What to Listen While Running – Podcasts and Music for Runners
Where to find the best audio for running, so you aren’t bored and give up too soon.
Do you need something to fill the time and keep you interested when running?
Many of us can’t cope without listening material when we’re running. This can come in many different forms, from podcasts to music or even guided meditation.
We’re walking you through some of the best things to listen to while running in this guide.
What you plan to listen to will be affected by what type of runner you are.
If you’re doing short runs at a fairly brisk pace, at 2-mile or 3-mile runs, music is likely your preference.
Distance runners may prefer podcasts to fill the long hours running marathons or half marathons.
Some podcast episodes can last hours. It is down to personal preference and can vary depending on what kind of mood you are in.
- Best Podcasts for Running
- Best Music Playlists for Running
- How to Match Music to Your Running Pace
- Best Meditation Apps for Running
Best Podcasts for Running
Podcasts are a hugely popular medium these days. Almost everyone has some device where they can access podcasts, and there are so many out there.
They are a great alternative to running with music. Podcasts are made in all sorts of different niches, and there is bound to be something to suit your interests.
How to Decide What Podcast to Listen to While Running?
Finding the right podcast for your running is quite subjective, but there are many which are hugely popular, and you should check first.
Niches which are popular include:
Whatever you go for, make sure that putting on a great pair of running headphones and heading out is something you look forward to.
If you read any list of the most popular podcasts, you will notice how varied they all are.
Some are narrative-based, some feature investigative journalism, some are just interesting people chatting for hours.
The Most Popular Podcasts
Here are the top podcast charts overall.
If you are looking for long podcasts to fill hours of running, then it may be a comedy or talk shows that end up getting your vote.
Comedians like Joe Rogan make podcasts that can last for 3-4 hours at a time. He has interviewed some extremely famous people such as Elon Musk.
Many people’s favorite podcasts to listen to are news-related. If you like to go on a brisk 30-minute run, condensed news podcasts can be a good way to fill that time and learn something on the way.
In these modern times, we don’t have to huddle around the television or wireless for our news. The Daily or Global News podcasts can give you a daily round-up of news.
If you like drama and are the sort of person who is gripped by narrative, there are brilliant podcasts for this, too.
Fill your long runs with storytelling podcasts such as Dirty John, a story of love, denial and deception following a new relationship.
For true crime stories, something like My Favorite Murder could be for you.
There are loads of true crime podcasts and others which tell stories, both true and fictional.
Podcasts for Runners
There are podcasts specifically made for runners, too. If you really are fanatical, you can listen to a podcast about running while you’re running.
Run Selfie Repeat is an example of one of these podcasts. It can give you an extra boost of motivation either before or during your run.
The Run to the Top Podcast by RunnersConnect is another example. This podcast discusses all things from running tips to motivation and equipment.
Here are some good options too:
Finding New Podcasts for Running
It’s easy to burn through hours of podcasts. It is great to find podcasts like the Joe Rogan Experience, with relentless release schedules.
Alternatively, daily podcasts are great for always providing new content. These tend to be news or sport-related.
If you are trying to find something new to listen to, then there are plenty of ways to do this. There are numerous curated lists out there.
A simple search for the niche you are interested in can bring you back some lists of top podcasts. For instance, searching for the “best sports podcasts” can bring back results.
The world of podcasts provides a rabbit hole you can really get lost in. You can use this running time to learn about what’s going on in the world, improve your business skills, listen to stories or even learn a new language.
Podcast Apps and Their Recommendations
Podcast apps have been created with the user in mind. They show you which podcasts might be suitable for you. Looking through the apps can be the best way of getting a new running podcast to binge on.
Apple’s podcast app has a “most popular” section to show you what others are listening to. Also, once you’ve found one podcast you love, the app will show you a section called “you might also like” to show similar podcasts.
The best podcast apps:
Best Music Playlists for Running
Some people will always prefer music while running over podcasts.
It can give you an extra boost, and the rhythm can be helpful. Music can be an incredible tool for runners.
There is an art to creating a workout playlist for running or any other physical activity.
Fortunately, there are a lot of ready-made playlists out there. You can easily find playlists on streaming apps such as Apple Music, Spotify, and Tidal. This can even be a great way to find new artists.
You can even find them on Youtube, like the one below.
Why is Music a Good Motivator for Running?
There is some debate on the impact of music on your running. Most are agreed that it is very helpful.
Music has the same benefit as podcasts in that it can keep you entertained. The time you’re running can feel like a chore if you have nothing to distract you. This is especially true if you run the same routes over and over.
Music has been shown in studies to help people get “pumped up” before going out on the road. It can get the adrenaline pumping, and some studies have even claimed that it helps runners go 15% faster.
Best Music Genres to Listen to while Running
The idea of listening to a downtempo and somber song when you’re running probably doesn’t get you in the mood.
A lot of the impact on your running comes from the mental mindset music can put you into.
There’s no suggestion that you should listen to genres of music you don’t enjoy, but some certainly are more effective than others.
A steady, rhythmic beat can be the key to the best workout music.
Running songs which make you feel like tapping your feet can certainly increase your heart rate and get you in the mood. Genres which can work for runners include:
- Dance music. Steady, relatively fast beats and rhythms which don’t change too much even through different songs. A dance playlist can be great for keeping tempo.
- Hip hop. This has a similar effect to dance, though it is often a little more downtempo.
- Rock. Big, driving anthemic rock is a real favorite for a lot of runners. It can get you in the mood for a workout and put your mindset in the right place for all that fast action.
- Heavy metal. It isn’t to everyone’s tastes, but there’s no denying that heavy metal is full of energy, and that can rub off on you.
Where Can You Find Good Running Playlists?
Fortunately, most of the streaming services also act as incredible curators.
A simple search on Apple Music for “running music” will likely bring up loads of playlists.
Wherever you tend to get your music, whichever streaming service you prefer, finding running playlists should be easy.
There is even a specific app which is designed to help you to find the best running playlists and songs.
Jog.fm is an app designed to match up running songs to the speed of your run.
They have an app, and a huge collection of playlists curated by their users. These are helpfully labeled with things like ‘half-marathon’ to help you find the best option for your needs.
Here are some of the most popular running playlists:
Running with Music vs Running Without
There have been many studies done about the impact of music on running.
The conclusion most of them draw is that while some times of music are better than others, at least having something to listen to is vital and can increase your motivation and speed.
Of course, this motivation will wane when you don’t have a good pair of headphones to listen to.
The best workout headphones that will block out background noise and provide clear and comfortable listening for the duration of your run are a necessity.
How to Match Music to Your Running Pace
Some people love to match the music they are listening to using the tempo.
Music has a tempo measured in beats per minutes, and you can match this to your running speed depending on how many steps you take per minute.
- Generally speaking, stroll walkers and slow joggers at around 3 miles per hour will match up to songs between 115 and 120 bpm. At 4.5mph this increases to 135-140.
- As a runner at speeds of over 5mph, you should probably look for a beats per minute rate of 145 plus.
- If you are doing quicker training such as interval training, you should be at the upper end of the tempos. Something like 160 BPM drum and bass can be suitable.
Having this driving tempo also gives you something to aim for. This can help you to reach your fitness goals, and know if you are performing badly (or well).
Calculating the BPM (beat per minute) for Your Running Pace
The running pace will vary depending on your stride length and size. To find the right BPM, you should perform a short test.
- Run for around 10 to 20 minutes at a normal pace which you know you can comfortably run at again.
- Count your steps for a whole minute, and do so several times throughout.
- Take an average of the number of steps per minute.
- Choose your bpm to match the number of steps you are taking each minute.
FYI: You can use a sports tracker app or other accessories for easier measuring.
The BPM of certain songs can be found simply by searching on Google. Many of the running playlists out there are made based on beats per minute anyway, so you can simply match up a running playlist to your speed.
If you listen to Spotify, the app can do this automatically. Spotify will work out your pace and play songs which directly match your running style.
Using Spotify is great, but the manual method is better for someone who wants better audio fidelity to match the sound quality of their headphones. Apps like Tidal give higher quality streaming.
Best Meditation Apps for Running
Meditation and running have a huge amount in common. They may seem like polar opposites. One is usually associated with being relaxed while the other is associated with being sweaty and out of breath.
Both meditation and running use repetition, rhythm, and focus. The two can really complement one another.
Many people combine the sensory experience of running with that of guided meditation or mindfulness.
How is Meditation Helpful when Running?
Running itself can be almost meditative. The repetitive nature and sensory experience can be tied to meditation.
Things like noticing your breath and your heartbeat can help you to meditate while running. For this reason, many apps are being released which can assist with your running and talk you through your run.
Mindfulness meditation is one of the most popular forms of meditation.
Mindful.org describes this as “The basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”
When you think about it, this is perfect for the repetitive process of running.
Studies from Harvard University show that mindfulness can help with stress and anxiety. It can even help us to feel less pain, which is extremely beneficial when running.
Many runners are seeing the benefit of tying their workouts and meditation. Apps make it easier than ever.
The apps can be used with on-ear headphones at home. However, for blocking out outside noise and keeping your headphones in place, you might opt for in-ear headphones. This is personal preference and the on-ear vs. in-ear debate rumbles on.
Most Popular Mindfulness and Meditation Apps
Some of the top mindfulness and meditation apps are useful for running but also sleeping and guided meditations. It is up to you when you fit in your meditation.
Some of the top mindfulness and meditation apps include:
Insight timer is both a mindfulness app and a community based around meditation. It features guided meditation and talks by many of the leading experts on meditation and mindfulness. It even has music included.
Calm is another very popular mindfulness and meditation app. It is a paid subscription. You can choose either a monthly or yearly plan.
Calm has a number of sessions dedicated to sleep and relaxation, which aren’t always the best for running.
However, the guided and even unguided meditation sessions are suitable to listen to while running. There isn’t an athletic or workout section as such, but the app walks you through the steps of meditating and mindfulness brilliantly.
3. 10% Happier
This is a meditation and mindfulness application which was designed for the skeptics out there. If you’re not sure about meditating, this is the perfect route in.
Though it doesn’t have much specific exercise material, the team upload new content daily. This makes it brilliant for avoiding boredom.
4. Run Mindful
This is one of the top-rated meditation apps designed for runners. The session within include training techniques for runners and claims to be able to assist your running by helping you to understand your mind better.
The app is marketed as being suitable for endurance runners. The description on the app store says you can “learn how mindfulness can help you manage pain, maintain focus, overcome race day jitters, learn to train better.”
This app is an audio program designed for runners of all types. It has instructions which are designed to help you to develop your attention and self-awareness. This is one of the best for noticing and being present in the moment, making it suited to those who want to learn about practicing mindfulness.
The scientific approach taken by Meditation on the Run is impressive. Their website features a lot of information on the science behind meditating while running.
Headspace is one of the most popular apps of this type. It is another paid subscription but is highly recommended for runners. A lot of their sessions are aimed specifically for runners. They do have other types of guided meditation sessions too.
When created their guided meditations, they partnered with the Nike Run Club app. You can try out the 15 sessions they have provided within this Nike app. Headspace describes their sessions as “helping to connect your mind and body.”
What are Meditation Apps for Running
They are apps designed to combine running and meditating at the same time. The difference from regular mediation apps is that these have meditation programs and techniques that you can use during a run which often differ from meditation at home.
App developers know that this trend is growing. People are waking up to the potential of meditation and running being combined.
And lots of people do it. Clearing your mind as well as getting your daily exercise is hitting 2 flies with 1 hit.
The decision on what to listen to while running is one you should make for yourself. However, using the information here about podcasts and music for running, you can make life easier for yourself.
The long hours of training can be lonely, and having companionship in audio form can help you avoid boredom, improve your times, and even improve your mental health.