47 Best Running Songs to Help You Keep a Steady Pace

Get up – it’s time to run!

If you need some songs to add to your workout playlist (or if you’re feeling too comfy on the couch, some uplifting tunes to brighten your mood), these songs are a must-add!

Every song on this list of the best running songs has a great beat to help you keep a steady pace, and many contain positive and empowering messages that will increase your motivation. Come on, what are you waiting for?!

Lose Yourself – Eminem

Written for 8 Mile, a movie loosely based on Eminem’s life, ‘Lose Yourself’ took home the Grammy for Best Rap Song in 2003. This song has all the classic elements of rap, with a steady beat and intricate rhyme patterns, but is unique in the addition of horns, keyboard, and various sound effects.

Related: Find this song on our playlist of best songs about bravery.

Blinding Lights – Weeknd

‘Blinding Lights’ by The Weeknd broke many records and is the longest-charting song on the Hot 100 of all time! Nothing will stop The Weeknd from seeing his lover, not even blinding lights or ominous empty cities, as he sings, “I can’t sleep until I feel your touch.” The throwback synths and disco drums, combined with smooth melodies and sweet lyrics, give this song that addictive quality that catapulted it to Number One.

Related: This song features on our list of songs about light.

Level Up – Ciara

The uptempo production on this song has elements like clapping and a kickdrum beat that really get your adrenaline going. Meant to inspire listeners to ‘Level Up,’ this song encourages you to kick your life into high gear—whether that means romantically, personally, or otherwise is up to you. The repetitive lyrics of the song help you get into that determined rhythm that is ideal for a run.

Related: Turn your run into a full workout with these good workout songs.

Believer – Imagine Dragons

Drums, drums, and more drums! There’s nothing like a crashing beat to get you on your feet and running out the door. This song was inspired by an inner conflict and morphed into the story of fighting your demons and coming out triumphant on the other side. You’ll be “seeing the beauty through the pain” when you get that dopamine hit from your run after the burning in your lungs.

Related: Find your rhythm with these songs with good drum beats.

Jurass Finish First – Jurassic 5

‘Jurass Finish First’ talks about the exasperation of finding commercialized, low-quality songs at the top of the charts and celebrates Jurassic 5’s talent and authenticity in music-making. This song will make you feel untouchable and powerful, getting you into that “I’m better than everyone” mindset (which is a good thing in small doses!) that will help you outrun everyone else.

Related: Stand tall and feel good with these confident songs.

Motivation – Normani

Normani veered from her typical R&B sound with this track, and its bouncy beat will surely motivate you. In ‘Motivation,’ Normani uses enticing lyrics and sugary melodies to tempt someone to spend the night with her. Brassy horns add a unique quality to the song, and the dance-heavy music video shows just how fun this song can be.

Related: See more songs about having fun.

Dance Monkey – Tones And I

The epitome of pop music, ‘Dance Monkey’ got tons of radio play due to its addictive melodies and staccato piano playing. Writer and singer Toni Watson wrote this song about busking—something she initially loved. Soon she found out how exhausting it was trying to keep the attention of random, uninterested strangers.

Related: Get the party started with these classic party songs.

Don’t Start Now – Dua Lipa

An anthem about knowing your worth, Dua Lipa’s ‘Don’t Start Now’ took the charts by storm. It’s easy to see why with a catchy melody and a thumping rhythm. With lyrics like “don’t show up, don’t come out, don’t start caring about me now,” you can pretend you’re outrunning your ex—that’ll be sure to pick up your pace!

Related: Boost your ego with these songs about loving yourself for who you are.

Sabotage – Beastie Boys

Gritty, crashing vocals and disjointed drums and guitar create an adrenaline-filled anthem in ‘Sabotage’ by Beastie Boys. The inspiration for this sound was an engineer that tried to rush the Beastie Boys through recording sessions. Based on lyrics like “you’re scheming on a thing, that’s sabotage,” they obviously were not happy collaborators. But it made for a great song!

Related: This classic appears on our pick of best 90s hip hop songs.

Start the Commotion – The Wiseguys

‘Start the Commotion’ by The Wiseguys actually samples another song- ‘Set it Off’ by Greg Nice. This electronic funk song is lyrically repetitive, focusing on a sonically enjoyable experience instead. The music video features all the instruments being played, and by watching the performers, you can clearly see the incredible energy that went into creating this song.

Paint It, Black – The Rolling Stones

Despite ultimately being about death, it’s not hard to feel exhilarated by this song—likely due to its intense drums and smashing guitar riff. The narrator of this song wants to paint everything black so that the world’s color will match the complicated feelings he is facing. The passionate vocals sometimes sound more like yelling than singing, causing you to hear the desperation and loneliness in his voice.

Related: Get colorful with this playlist of songs with colors.

Dog Days Are Over –  Florence + the Machine

‘Dog Days Are Over’ lures you in with acoustic guitar and ambient vocals, then slowly build to the fiery drums and belted lines that will give you chills. The song references the constellation Sirius, which is in the shape of a dog and sings about how happiness will hit you eventually, no matter what things in your life might be preventing it now. Florence Welch sings with conviction, announcing that “the dog days are over” and joy is coming your way.

Related: You’ll want to pet a pup when you hear these songs about dogs.

Let’s Go on a Run – Chance the Rapper ft. Know Fortune

Aptly named, ‘Let’s Go on a Run’ by Chance the Rapper definitely belongs on your running playlist. This introspective song talks about wanting to run away and escape the monotony and restrictions of your daily life. There are a couple of features on this song from Know Fortune and John Witherspoon, and the multiple voices make this song feel like a group of friends dreaming about getting away.

Related: Don’t look back on your way to our playlist of songs about getting away.

Such Great Heights – The Postal Service

The upbeat drums and guitar of ‘Such Great Heights’ hide the song’s more pensive and melancholy themes. The narrator and his lover are in bliss together, thinking that “God Himself” made the pair for each other. They want to stay in this happy little paradise and use “great heights” to separate them from the world. Up close, the world gets ugly and complicated, and staying high will keep their love alive.

Related: Listen to more beautiful ukulele love songs.

Brutal – Olivia Rodrigo

A driving beat, heavy guitar, and rhythmic melodies make ‘Brutal’ a great song to run to—bonus points if you use it to channel the anger of a misunderstood teenager and increase your speed. Olivia Rodrigo is known for her angsty lyrics that take people right back to their teenage years. With lines like “if someone tells me one more time ‘enjoy your youth,’ I’m gonna cry” and “I don’t stick up for myself, I’m anxious, and nothing can help,” ‘Brutal’ is a prime example.

Related: It’s tough being young! Listen to more great songs about teens.

Good as Hell – Lizzo

Lizzo’s powerhouse vocals and self-loving lyrics make ‘Good as Hell’ perfect for feeling confident while exercising—two things that might not go together naturally. “You know you a star, you can touch the sky,” Lizzo sings, offering encouragement and a reminder to believe in ourselves. With melodies that build and a beat that drops, this fun song is a great one to time your strides to.

Related: You’ll smile when you hear the best happy songs.

Ace of Spades – Mötorhead

‘Ace of Spades’ is such an aggressive song that you can practically feel it pumping your blood. This Mötorhead anthem is all about gambling and risk: “If you like to gamble, I tell you I’m your man.” This song combines elements of rock and roll and punk, and the raspy belting and shredding guitar add to this song’s intense atmosphere.

Lean On – Major Lazer and DJ Snake ft. MØ

In November of 2015, ‘Lean On’ became the most streamed song on Spotify, overtaking Ed Sheeran’s ‘Thinking Out Loud’ and keeping that spot for nearly a year. This track is all about living in the moment and looking for someone to lean on. We will all get old and part from our loved ones, but for now, we can rest in the simplicity of having an enduring love.

Run Like Hell – Pink Floyd

By repeating “run” numerous times at the song’s start, Pink Floyd will get you in the mood to move with ‘Run Like Hell.’ This song is in a disorienting and hallucinogenic setting, where a concert crowd turns into a crazy mob. The narrator of this song is likely telling the mob to run, egging on their antics, while also telling everyone else to run from this unstoppable mob. It’s quite an exciting setup, but the payoff is a truly great song.

Wolf Like Me – TV On The Radio

‘Wolf Like Me’ is a rock song that compares the physical aspect of love to turn into a werewolf. The warbling guitar and incessant drums get you pumped up, and the echoing, overlapping vocals add to the sonic experience this song creates. This song is a fun one to pick apart full of suggestive metaphors.

Related: Listen to more wild songs on our playlist of the best songs about animals.

Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen

Freddie Mercury’s incomparable range can turn any song into an experience. With ‘Don’t Stop Me Now,’ Queen has us “floating around in ecstasy” and “traveling at the speed of light.” All about feeling unstoppable and confident, it’s impossible not to have an increase in mood after listening to the song- not to mention the energetic harmonies and jubilant piano.

Eye of the Tiger – Survivor

With one of the most recognizable intros in rock music, the guitars in ‘Eye of the Tiger’ are nothing short of iconic. Written as the theme song for Rocky III, this track became the Number One song of 1982. It’s natural to picture ‘Eye of the Tiger’ as a fight song because of the lyrics that talk about rising up and facing your rivals. Any good running playlist will have this song on it!

Related: Keep your eyes on the prize with these songs about never giving up.

Lightning Bolt – Jake Bugg

Jake Bugg uses a lightning bolt as a metaphor for risk in his song ‘Lightning Bolt,’ a guitar-heavy rock track with hints of folk in his vocal delivery. Opportunities, like lightning, can hit you out of nowhere and could result in positive or negative outcomes. Bugg says he is one to ride that Lightning Bolt—better to try and fail than to complain about your situation and regret never trying to change it.

Related: Strike up a good time with these lightning songs.

Bad Moon Rising – Creedence Clearwater Revival

‘Bad Moon Rising’ sings about all the signs of an upcoming apocalypse, warning “don’t go around tonight.” Despite its doomsday theme, this song almost has a bright feel due to the swinging guitar and lack of fear in the singer’s voice. The “bad moon on the rise” is inevitable, and the matter-of-fact manner of talking about it adds to that idea.

Related: Try not to howl when you hear this list of songs about the moon.

When a Fire Starts to Burn – Disclosure

This hype dubstep track ignites the feeling of adrenaline, getting a fire started in the listener. The story of how this song came to be is actually quite interesting—instead of getting a rapper to do a feature on the song, Disclosure used audio clips from a motivational speech, editing them together to make them sound more melodic. These clips repeat multiple times to get you into a steady, burning rhythm.

Related: Nothing is hotter than this list of the best fire songs.

Pump It Up – Elvis Costello

Pump up your step with this rock n’ roll song, written by an angsty Elvis Costello on a fire escape during the tour. Lyrics like “pump it up when you don’t really need it” tell us about that rockstar lifestyle that Costello sees as extravagant and overdone. Repetition of lyrics and guitar riffs and the aggressive drums display that frustration and make for a tension-filled song.

Stronger – Ye

Kanye West raps over elements from the original song ‘Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger’ by Daft Punk in his song ‘Stronger.’ He keeps that classic tagline from the Daft Punk song, adding his own rap verses and instrumental details. Ye reflects on his life, acknowledging all the hard events that made him stronger in the end. Using his talent for wordplay, he makes this song an excellent listening experience.

Wake Me Up – Avicii

An instant mood-lifter, ‘Wake Me Up’ was revolutionary in its combination of folk, pop, and EDM elements. Despite the unlikely mix of genres, it was the highest-charting dance track of the 2010s and became a fan favorite after diehard EDM listeners got over their confusion. The electronic riffs and quick beat make this song energetic and fun, and look forward to a future where you’ve outgrown naivety.

Related: Get a head start with these wake-up songs.

Survivor – Destiny’s Child

We can thank Destiny’s Child for these motivating lyrics in their song ‘Survivor,’ partly inspired by the reality TV show with the same name. This song is mostly about taking difficult things in stride because you know you are capable of handling anything. The music video shows the members of Destiny’s Child on a stranded island, taking that survival metaphor and making it literal.

Related: Stay on track with the best songs about surviving.

Testify – Rage Against the Machine

This rock song verging on screamo criticizes the consumerist culture of the US (both in terms of physical items and entertainment) and how it leads to world events being incorrectly reported in US media. “Glamour” and “tabloids” keep the population subdued so that people never realize media’s ineptitude. The anarchist themes of this song help you channel any political anger you have into speed.

Mayday – The Go! Team

Mayday’ uses twangy guitar, lively drums, and horns to make a dynamic, intriguing song. The Go! Team is known for their genre-mixing, often using aspects of indie rock, funk, Bollywood, hip-hop, and more in their various songs. Their creativity shines through in this song, somehow taking a song about a shipwreck and making it sound fun and upbeat.

On My Way – Tiësto ft. Bright Sparks

If you’re a believer in the power of a positive mindset or affirmations, this song is for you. ‘On My Way’ acknowledges you may not be exactly where you want in life, but you’re on your way! The inspirational lyrics and the vibrant horn sections will get you into that positive mindset (if you’re not there already).

Con Altura – Rosalia, J Balvin ft. El Guincho

‘Con Altura,’ which translates to “up high” in English, is all about internal pride and external accomplishments. It has hints of reggaeton, making it laid back without losing the energy that Rosalia’s vocals provide. The catchy beat and smoothly delivered lines make it clear why Billboard named ‘Con Altura’ the 5th best song of 2019.

La Romana – Bad Bunny

Powerful vocals combined with rap make ‘La Romana’ sonically diverse and unique. The music video features a big fire, which replicates the living on edge and going crazy theme of the song (as well as the lyrics that translate to “the street is on fire”). All about having a good time ‘La Romana’ will get you moving.

Related: Batter up! Hear this song on our list of the best baseball walk-up songs.

Gonna Fly Now – Bill Conti

‘Gonna Fly Now’ by Bill Conti is the theme song for the first Rocky movie, heard in the training montage. Lyrics like “trying so hard now,” “oh he’s ready,” and “makin’ moves” emulate the process of preparing for a fight- but they can be applied to any obstacle we’re facing. The repetitive, intense delivery of the lyrics and the echoing sound effects that almost sound like whale noises create an ominous feel that builds anticipation, getting you amped up to run.

Related: Celebrate your victory with the best songs about winning.

Up the Mountain – Vince DiCola

This song used in the Rocky IV soundtrack is played over a montage of Rocky training, fighting, and training again. An entirely instrumental track, the strings, piano, and drums tell a story all by themselves. The slow rise of the music, starting with a drum beat and adding in strings and piano that intensify as the music progresses, mirrors the climb up a mountain. It’s steady and intense, then all at once becomes expansive and joyous as the crest of the mountain is reached.

All My Life – Foo Fighters

Though the drums and electric guitar of ‘All My Life’ are very in your face (perfect for getting your blood running), the lyrics are pretty intimate. The harsh vocal delivery at the end of the song makes this hard to believe, but with innuendoes like “over and over, down on my knees,” you can’t deny it! Fun Fact: the 2003 performance of this song on SNL won a Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance.

Related: Need some guidance? Listen to the best songs about life.

Lust For Life – Iggy Pop

The raspy, almost bored vocals in this song contrast with the title ‘Lust For Life’ in what seems to be an intentional way. In a song with literary references and allusions to addiction, substances that cause inescapable lust are often the ones that will have adverse effects on your life. Heavy lyrics notwithstanding, the tambourine and drums certainly give this song a lively beat. Fun Fact: David Bowie co-wrote this song!

Related: Improve your day with these classic feel-good songs.

Shoes for Running – Big Boi ft. Wavves & B.O.B.

Shoes for Running’ is about running from ill fortune and the unfortunate irony that those most disadvantaged can’t even buy shoes to outrun their situation. Aimed at the 1% with hopes that it’ll be a shameful wake-up call, this song has indignant energy about being stuck in a situation that’s not your fault but is nearly impossible to get out of.

Related: Take a walk after your run with these shoe songs.

Soul Makossa – Manu Dibango

Manu Dibango tends to combine jazz and African musical styles in his music, which makes for a fascinating and distinctive style you can hear in ‘Soul Makossa.’ The main lyric repeated throughout the song, “mama ko mama sa maka makossa,” is a stylized breakdown of the word “makossa,” which means “dance” or “I dance.” The horns in this song make it impossible not to at least bob your head, which explains why this became such a popular disco song in American dance.

Run Run Run – Jill Scott

Clapping and “na na nas” carry you through the dynamic twists and turns of Jill Scott’s rich vocals and animated melodies. An anthem for the hardworking moms everywhere, Scott sings this song to her baby, saying, “baby, Mama be back in a minute.” She then goes to work with a self-proclaimed and well-deserved title of “Superwoman.”

Related: Clap along with these songs with clapping in them.

Take It on the Run – REO Speedwagon

Sometimes heartbreak is the best possible fuel for a run. At the very least, endorphins from the exercise could give you some relief from your sadness. ‘Take It On the Run’ sings about the devasting realization that your partner is cheating on you. There is some hopeful ambiguity that this realization came from gossip, with no real proof, but the narrator warns their partner to run if it turns out to be true.

Related: Hear more of the best songs about cheaters.

Novacane – Beck

This song aimed to create a frantic, potent atmosphere that paralleled a rockstar going crazy on stage. To do this, producers of ‘Novacane’ used disorienting electronic effects, gritty guitar, and vocals modulated with static. The outcome was just what they wanted, and the album this song appears on (Odelay) received critical acclaim.

Block Rockin’ Beats – The Chemical Brothers

Lyrically sparse, ‘Block Rockin’ Beats’ is carried by the drums, groovy bass line, and retro electric guitar. The vocals are primarily used to set up instrumental breaks, which then end with a heavy crash of drums and return to the electric instrumentation. This song does a fantastic job of keeping you hooked and wondering what’s coming next.

Firework – Katy Perry

Katy Perry, queen of 2010s hits, does not let us down with the explosive song ‘Firework.’ The pre-chorus builds tension beautifully, taking you towards the invigorating notes Perry belts in the chorus. The lyrics are inspiring, telling you to accept that you are a colorful firework, and help you hold on to your motivation to keep running.

Beat It – Michael Jackson

This disco-rock track is a well-known classic of Michael Jackson’s discography. Jackson’s vocals are mesmerizing as ever in this song, and the guitar and drums carry you smoothly through each section. This music video was also a huge hit, getting tons of air time on MTV. Fun Fact: Eddie Van Halen played the guitar solo on this song!

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger – Daft Punk

Daft Punk sampled ‘Cola Bottle Baby’ by Edwin Birdsong for this universally known track ‘Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.’ Daft Punk is known for their electronic-style vocals and their synth-heavy sound. A hallmark of EDM music is using the voice as its own instrument through various kinds of modulation, and Daft Punk demonstrates that flawlessly in this song.

Related: Pump up your energy with these hype songs.

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About Ged Richardson

Ged Richardson is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of ZingInstruments.com. He has been featured in Entrepreneur, PremierGuitar, Hallmark, Wanderlust, CreativeLive, and other major publications. As an avid music fan, he spends his time researching and writing about new and old music, as well as testing and reviewing music-related products. He's played guitar in various bands, from rock to gypsy jazz. Be sure to check out his YouTube channel, where he geeks out about his favorite bands.

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