Top tracks to give your run a boost

Looking to kick-start your exercise regime this spring? We´ve got just the thing for you. We’ve teamed up with music and fitness guru Dr Costas Karageorghis to bring you a playlist that’s scientifically designed to boost your running performance.

currys - jogging pic

Looking to kick-start your exercise regime this spring? We've got just the thing for you. We've teamed up with music and fitness guru Dr Costas Karageorghis to bring you a playlist that's scientifically designed to boost your running performance.

Dr Karageorghis is a world-leading researcher on the benefits of listening to music during exercise and sport. He's also the go-to guy for top athletes like London 2012 Team GB track and field captain Dai Greene. So if you want to train like an Olympic runner and turbo-charge your running workouts, make sure these motivational tracks are on your playlist. And if you want to find out the magic recipe for choosing the best workout tracks, make sure you read Dr Karageorghis' top tips below.

Track 1 - Uptown Funk

Tempo (bpm): 115

Training phase: Mental preparation

The funk is back! Mark Ronson lays claim to being the ultimate groovemeister with this early 2015 chart-topper. An instantly likable piece that is sure to get you energised, primed and in just the right mindset for your running session.

Track 2 - Pray to God

Tempo (bpm): 120

Training phase: Warm up

A track predicated on a driving pop-rock rhythm that enables you to rev-up the engine. Use this track to initiate your physical preparation and inspire you for a superior running workout.


Track 3 - These Days

Tempo (bpm): 120

Training phase: Warm up

This hit from pop’s old timers oozes the feel-good factor. The winning combination of a vibrant electro-pop groove and uplifting lyrics make this a particularly good choice for the latter stages of a purposeful warm up.

Track 4 - Living for Love

Tempo (bpm): 123

Training phase: Low intensity

From the diva who gets straight up when she’s knocked down, this vibrant dance track will get your legs into gear for the early part of your run. Get into the groove with Madge and allow the track to put a spring in your stride.

Track 5 - Talking About

Tempo (bpm): 124

Training phase: Low intensity

Starting with a catchy synth motif in the opening bars, this zestful piece by neophyte poster, Conor Maynard, remains totally on message. I tip this to be one of the standout tracks of summer 2015 in southern Europe’s clubbing destinations. The phat bass line and smooth vocals will keep you floating along.  

Track 6 - Real Love

Tempo (bpm): 125

Training phase: Moderate intensity

A floor-filler by Clean Bandit that is glazed with the rousing vocal delivery of the wonderful Jess Glynne. The song is perched on a classic early-90s dance groove that helps to distract you from any emerging sign of fatigue.

Track 7 - Stronger

Tempo (bpm): 125

Training phase: Moderate intensity

Part of a Clean Bandit double-header, the defining feature of this track is the hugely positive message carried in the lyrics: “I want to be strong for you”. This is melded with a super-infectious synth-pop groove and bright harmonies that immediately elevate your mood.

Track 8 - Cool

Tempo (bpm): 128

Training phase: Moderate intensity

The title of this electro-dance piece hints at just what every runner needs by this stage of their workout – thermoregulation! Swedish maestro Alesso blends bright, uplifting harmonies with a pulsating dance beat that is sure to spur you on. 

Track 9 - Money On My Mind

Tempo (bpm): 134

Training phase: High intensity

The breathy vocals of Sam Smith are the distinct highlight of this contemporary classic. The infectious backbeat will combat the symptoms of fatigue as the going starts to get tough and your breathing becomes more laboured.

Track 10 - Lips Are Movin

Tempo (bpm): 139

Training phase: High intensity

As the intensity of your run is ratcheted up even further, this bright and bubbly track will keep your brain off the pain. It’s a sassy number that is imbued with Trainor’s characteristic joie de vivre.

Track 11 - Heartbeat Song

Tempo (bpm): 149

Training phase: High intensity

Keep your heart pumping to the max with the energetic pulse of this signature Clarkson tune. There is a hugely uplifting tone to the vocal delivery and the chorus is definitely of the earworm variety. You’ll be striding along and singing out loud!

Track 12 - Waves (Robin Schulz Remix)

Tempo (bpm): 120

Training phase: Warm Down Jog

This mid-tempo remix maintains a steady beat and has a calming harmonic structure. It is ideal to listen to whilst your running intensity decreases and you make a smooth transition into the warm down phase.

Track 13 - Doing It

Tempo (bpm): 106

Training phase: Warm Down Jog

As your running speed reduces even further, diva-duo Rita and Charli combine forces on this international chart hit. This track has sufficient energy in the rhythmic structure to facilitate an active warm down.

Track 14 - FourFive Seconds

Tempo (bpm): 106

Training phase: Warm Down Stretch

The unlikely musical collective of RiRi, Kanye and Sir Paul will help you enter a more relaxed mode as you stretch out your tired limbs following a hard run. The highlights of the track are a catchy McCartney guitar riff and warm vocal harmonies that minister directly to your burning lungs.  


Track 15- Thinking Out Loud

Tempo (bpm): 79

Training phase: Warm Down Recuperation

Relax and fully recuperate from your run with this chilled-out chart-topper. The mellow rhythms combined with Sheeran’s evocative vocal delivery are a perfect antidote to the machinations of a hard run. Refresh and revitalise!

How he selected the tracks

Dr Karageorghis - who has a knack for predicting the next big tunes - focused on very recent tracks when pulling together this running playlist. He looked at the tracks' rhythm, melody, harmony and lyrics to find the perfect songs for each stage of your workout. The playlist is designed to work across a range of running intensities and works just as well for other types of exercise including spinning, circuit training or even a late night session in the gym.

The science behind it

Music can pump us up - we all know that intuitively. But it also has a range of other benefits according to Dr Karageorghis. His group's recent research shows that "well-selected music has a positive impact on athletes' mood at all running intensities."

Listening to upbeat tunes can also trick you into feeling less tired and lower your perception of effort by around 12%. So a 40-minute session on the treadmill can feel more like 35 minutes. But, as Dr Karageorghis adds, "this reduction in perceived exertion only seems to appear at low-to-moderate running intensities in our experiments."

Music doesn't just make you feel better, it can also make you run more efficiently and thus help you save energy - particularly during longer runs. Dr Karageorghis states that this increase in efficiency can be as much as 7% and explains just how it works: "Music has a metronomic effect and helps us to eliminate some of the irregularities in the stride cycle; this makes us more energy-efficient."

So, what's the best music to exercise to?

If you're creating your own playlist, one top tip is to pick music with a steady rhythm and an easily extractable beat. Although we assume music works as a cue for our feet, our brains actually use it to help us maintain a steady heart and breathing rate. This is because the body's internal pulses automatically 'tune in' to the rhythm of the music in a handy process known as entrainment. 

Another fascinating titbit from Dr Karageorghis is that listening to music with a faster tempo doesn't necessarily make you work faster or harder. "For intense exercise, our research shows that the optimal tempo for music playing in the background is between 140-145 bpm. Listening to anything faster this, won't make you workout any harder. This is because fast, complex music is hard to process when your body is also processing fatigue-related signals". So rather than switching to a heavy metal track when you're close to your peak, opt for a track with a steady, up-tempo beat like dance or house music.

Now you've got the perfect playlist for your running session, make sure your headphones don't let you down. Check out Currys wide range of sports headphones that fit snugly in your ear and give you great sound quality.

And if you know any great tunes that help boost your workout, make sure you share them below.  

Dr Karageorghis was speaking at our recent blogger event where he explained the effects of music on running and exercise.