Bands on the Run: Best Running Music

Anyone following me on Twitter will know I’m into my running. It’s my favourite way of exercising, and I like challenging myself to hit faster speeds and longer distances.  One of the main reasons I run, though, is for the opportunity to listen to a bit of music.  On a run, it’s just you, your thoughts and your iPod.  It’s a great chance to meditate over an album whilst getting a bit fitter.  Here are five favourite bands that make the best running music.

5. Rush

cover of clockwork angels by rush

Album Pick: Clockwork Angels

This isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned Rush in a blog post and I’m sure it won’t be the last. There’re one of my favourite bands, and their albums are rich and interesting, welcoming repeat listens.  As a band, they’ve been through a few phases. I prefer their more guitar-oriented sound for running music  – albums like Presto (1989), Snakes and Arrows (2007) and my personal favourite, Clockwork Angels (2012).  The songs aren’t as knottily progressive as some of their earlier tracks but they’re still more complex and surprising than most in rock, and they exhibit a Rush that like to rock out as much as show off their abilities.   The chunky riffs of Show Don’t Tell, Caravan and The Anarchist are perfect for running to: dynamic but interesting.


4. Satyricon

cover of age of nero by satyricon

Album Pick: The Age of Nero

I admit it. Sometimes I’m in the mood for the heavier side of metal.  There’s a clutch of death and black metal bands I quite enjoy but I’ve never had much luck running to them – death metal doesn’t always have enough groove and black can lack dynamics.  Satyricon are a black metal band but albums like Now, Diabolical (2006) and The Age of Nero (2008) introduce an almost AC/DC-esque pound to them. Think four-to-the-floor drums, classic rock riffs, all subject to blastbeats and growled vocals.  I’m not always in the mood, but if I fancy something heavy whilst jogging, songs like The Wolfpack and Black Crow on a Tombstone have enough groove to effectively soundtrack my workout.

3. Queens of the Stone Age

cover of like clockwork by queens of the stone age

Album Pick: …Like Clockwork

I’m a big fan of Queens of the Stone Age.  Their music is so atmospheric yet riff-driven, relying on guitar to provide texture rather than washing their music in keyboards.  My favourite album is 2005’s Lullabies to Paralyze, with its creepy woodland vibes, but for a run I’ll turn to their most recent album …Like Clockwork (2013). It takes a bit of Lullabies’ moodiness and marries it to the harder, beefier riffs of Songs for the Deaf (2002).  It’s hard to beat the deep, mid-tempo plod of If I Had a Tail on a run. Plus the rogues’ gallery of guest musicians across the album keep things fresh and interesting.  Incidentally, Alex Turner crops up on the album, and his most recent album with Arctic Monkeys, AM, released the same year, taps a similar riffy vein, perfect for a jog.

2. Dream Theater

cover of train of thought by dream theater

Album Pick: Train of Thought

Dream Theater are one of the proggiest bands I know and I’ll admit that I find some of their work too complex and pretentious.  But Train of Thought, their 2003 album, is one of their heavier efforts. It favours a lot of workout-friendly crunch and punch.  The suite-like songs help distract you from the effort of running and the band tend to prioritise the fluidity of their riffs over syncopation, so it’s easy to find a pace and stick to it.  The dynamics and faster speeds are also pretty inspiring.  I really enjoy the comparatively direct As I Am as well as the more complicated In the Name of God and instrumental showcase Stream of Consciousness.

1. Avenged Sevenfold

 cover of nightmare by avenged sevenfold

Album Pick: Nightmare

Avenged Sevenfold top my list of the best running music.  With their eponymous 2007 album they started to slow their thrash-level speeds down to a fat, mid-tempo thump, stressing heavy classic rock riffs and clean singing.  Avenged Sevenfold has a fairly experimental nature, mixing in country, punk and goth with a ton of production effects including children’s choirs and orchestras.  It’s all very over-the-top, if entertaining.  Their 2013 album, Hail to the King, is equally good for running to – it eschews the melodrama of Avenged Sevenfold and concentrates on crunching heavy metal riffs.  But it’s Nightmare, released between these two in 2010, that I prefer to run to.  It balances the frillier sides of the band’s sound against some of their darkest riffs, so although it remains intriguing and idiosyncratic, it never sounds like it’s using gimmicks to cover up a lack of ideas.  Opener Nightmare kicks things off at a sprint before the album settles into a nice, pacey groove.

Liam Smith

Writing twisted gothic tales and drumming whilst I think up more.

4 thoughts to “Bands on the Run: Best Running Music”

  1. Great blog. I agree that running is a great opportunity to listen to your mp3 player although these days I tend to listen to downloaded radio 4 podcasts which I wouldn’t normally have time to sit and listen to at home. Oh, and I’d probably be more often walking than jogging (must be getting old!). However, if I have got music on, when I hear Lindisfarne’s ‘Run for Home’ when I’m jogging it really gives me a boost. And when things like Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘Freebird’ and Blackfoot’s ‘Highway Song’ come on, my running pace will tend to increase with the tempo. Like you say though, it’s a great time to listen to an album in it’s entirety, a guilty pleasure which it’s difficult to find time to do with busy lives.

    1. I’ll have to check out Blackfoot; if Highway Song can be compared to Freebird then it must be worth a look – that solo helps break new speed records. Haven’t run to anything spoken before, I’ll have to give it a crack. Bit difficult since I run close to so many roads – traffic noise can drown sounds out sometimes. I’ll have to jog on the South Downs for some peace and listen to a podcast.

      1. It’ll be easier to listen to podcasts soon as we all start wearing duts in the winter to keep our heads from freezing. I get a lot better sound quality with the hat over the top of the earpieces.

        1. Very good point Benny. I might indulge in listening to broadcast versions of soap operas once the hat goes on in winter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *