How to Pick the Best Music for Your Next Run
It’s more than simply syncing your music with your steps or heart rate
Racing a 5K is nothing like racing a marathon. Your training plan, gear, and race-day tactics will all be different, and your soundtrack should be too. To help you dial in perfect playlists for the mileage at hand, we enlisted Jen Galvin, director of music for the Electric Flight Crew, a multi-city running club that synchronizes its disparate workouts with a communal playlist.
The 5K is ubiquitous, but it might be the toughest distance for planning a playlist. For just 3.1 miles, 15 to 30 minutes depending on your pace, you need to make all your song choices count.
“I was running a fast 5K before COVID, but I’m at a light 5K pace right now,” says Galvin. “Regardless of your pace, there isn’t a lot of time in a 5K, so you have to get right to it with your playlist.” Look for songs around 130 to 140 beats per minute and let your legs do the rest.
At 6.2 miles, you could be on the course for an hour or longer, so you have some wiggle room in the songs you choose. You do need to think about your goal pace, though, and when you start to fatigue in this distance, and plan your songs accordingly. Galvin suggests keeping the tempo steady at first before ramping it up toward mile five so you can finish strong.
This is your chance to do a deep dive into a single artist or really explore a single genre, like East Coast Rap or eighties grunge (or Midwest polka, whatever floats your boat). Galvin suggests seeking help to uncover unknown gems that will keep you entertained during this long run. “If there’s a song you’re really in love with, go to Start Radio on Spotify, which pulls songs from the same genre. It will feed you new artists and old favorites you’ve forgotten about. Start Radio really opens up new music.”
This is it, the long haul. The marathon isn’t about how fast you can run; it’s about how long you can endure. Your playlist needs to be cut for endurance too. “Everyone has a different style for what they like to run to, but I like to mix it up for myself,” Galvin says. “I’ve had all sorts of musical tastes throughout my life and the marathon is the chance to bring them all into play.”
Whatever your distance, the best way to feel the music is with the new Bose Frames Tempo sunglasses. Thanks to specially designed Bose speakers, one embedded in each temple, they allow you to listen to both your favorite music and your surroundings—all without sticking anything in your ear.
To learn more about the new Bose Frames Tempo sunglasses, get customized playlists for each of the distances above, and learn more about how music can enhance your next run, check out the Soundtrack of Running