How Can Song BPM Improve Your Running Speed?

A woman running outdoors and listening to music

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Increasing your stride rate or stride turnover can help you improve your running form, increase speed, and reduce your injury risk. One way to achieve this increase is by listening to a song with a BPM—which stands for beats per minute—that matches your pace. This can help you feel more energized and motivated to run.

What's the Best Running BPM?

The ideal BPM for you can depend on your fitness level, running expertise, and fitness goals. A good starting point for a slower-paced, beginner run is a song that is somewhere around 120 BPM. Examples include Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" and Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'."

Studies have shown that around 165 steps per minute is optimal for novice runner. Songs that fall into this category include Maroon 5's "Wake Up Call," Queen's "We Will Rock You," and Bruno Mars' "Runaway Baby."

The most efficient, elite runners have a high stride turnover of about 180 steps per minute. To help achieve that pace, some runners like to run with music that has 180 BPMs, so their stride is in sync with the music. The songs listed below are all around 180 BPM.

If you feel that the beat of any of these songs is a bit faster than a steps-per-minute range you are comfortable with, they can still be enjoyed as part of your run—even if the beats don't perfectly match your stride.

How to Calculate Your Running BPM

To figure out which BPM is best for your usual running speed:

  1. Set a timer for one minute.
  2. Run on a treadmill at your usual pace.
  3. Count how many times your right foot strikes the track during that one minute.
  4. Multiply that number by two to find your BPM.

Hip-Hop/Rap Playlists

The songs included in these playlists are 180 BPM. If this pace is too fast, you may want to use these songs for faster sprints, mixing in a few slower paced songs for your rest periods.

Hip-Hop/Rap 180 BPM Playlist 1

  1. "Hey Ya!" OutKast
  2. "N.Y. State of Mind" Nas
  3. "Runnin' (Dying to Live)" Tupac with The Notorious B.I.G.
  4. "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)" Jay-Z
  5. "Dead Presidents II" Jay-Z
  6. "Git Up, Git Out" OutKast
  7. "Jesus Walks" Kanye West
  8. "The World Is Yours" Nas
  9. "Gangsta's Paradise" Coolio
  10. "Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta" Geto Boys
  11. "Keep It Rollin'" A Tribe Called Quest
  12. "I Ain't Mad At Cha" 2pac and Danny Boy
  13. "P.I.M.P. (Snoop Dogg Remix)" 50 Cent
  14. "Ya Mama" The Pharcyde

Hip-Hop/Rap 180 BPM Playlist 2

  1. "'03 Bonnie & Clyde" Jay-Z with Beyoncé
  2. "Can I Get A... (Soundtrack Version)" Jay-Z with Amil and Ja Rule
  3. "Get Em High" Kanye West with Talib Kweli and Common
  4. "In da Club" 50 Cent
  5. "Definition" Black Star
  6. "Memory Lane (Sittin' In Da Park)" Nas
  7. "In the Summertime" Shaggy
  8. "Irreplaceable" Beyoncé
  9. "Lose Yourself" Eminem
  10. "Umbrella" Rihanna with Jay-Z
  11. "Ghetto Pop Life" Danger Mouse and Jemini The Gifted One
  12. "Karma" Alicia Keys
  13. "Passin' Me By" The Pharcyde
  14. "Break You Off" The Roots

Pop Playlists

If your music genre of choice is pop, there are quite a few songs that are around 180 BPM. Some are modern pop hits while others fall into the category of pop classics.

Pop 180 BPM Playlist 1

  1. "I Would Die 4 U" Prince
  2. "Underneath your Clothes" Shakira
  3. "Affirmation" Savage Garden
  4. "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves" Cher
  5. "Don't You Just Know it" Captain Jack
  6. "Turning Japanese" The Vapors
  7. "Dancing With Myself" Billy Idol
  8. "Pieces of Me" Ashlee Simpson
  9. "Remember the Words" Ace of Base
  10. "Livin' La Vida Loca" Ricky Martin
  11. "Complicated" Avril Lavigne

Pop 180 BPM Playlist 2

  1. "The Sign" Ace of Base
  2. "Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely" Backstreet Boys
  3. "Mambo #5" Lou Bega
  4. "She's Been Good To Me" Marc Anthony
  5. "The Boys of Summer" Don Henley
  6. "Truly, Madly, Deeply" Savage Garden
  7. "If I Had a $1,000,000 Dollars" Barenaked Ladies
  8. "Head Over Feet" Alanis Morissette
  9. "Breakaway" Kelly Clarkson
  10. "Bye Bye Bye" NSYNC
  11. "Love Is a Battlefield" Pat Benatar

Rock Playlists

Rock music has an amazing ability to motivate you to increase your speed. There's something about its loudness that just makes you want to run faster.

Classic Rock Playlist

  1. "Runnin' Down a Dream" Tom Petty
  2. "Oh Darling" The Beatles
  3. "Modern Love" David Bowie
  4. "Don't Stop Me Now" Queen
  5. "Here Comes My Baby" Cat Stevens
  6. "Life Is a Highway" Tom Cochrane
  7. "Tusk" Fleetwood Mac
  8. "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" The Police
  9. "Message in a Bottle" The Police
  10. "Bright Side of the Road" Van Morrison
  11. "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" Meat Loaf
  12. "Jack and Diane" John Cougar Mellencamp
  13. "I Want It All" Queen

Hard Rock Playlist

  1. "I Only Want You" Eagles of Death Metal
  2. "Monkey Wrench" Foo Fighters
  3. "Alone Again Or" The Damned
  4. "The Reason" Hoobastank
  5. "Breaking the Law" Judas Priest
  6. "Rock and Roll" Led Zeppelin
  7. "Neat Neat Neat" The Damned
  8. "Pink" Aerosmith
  9. "The Boys are Back in Town" Thin Lizzy
  10. "Collection of Goods" Collective Soul
  11. "Suzanne" Journey

Country Running Playlist

While some country songs are slow, there are still plenty of options to choose from that are face-paced enough to inspire you to run just a little bit harder.

  1. "Good Run of Bad Luck" Clint Black
  2. "Just Don't Happen Twice" Kenny Chesney
  3. "Chattahoochee" Alan Jackson
  4. "Goin' Through the Big D" Mark Chesnutt
  5. "Our Song" Taylor Swift
  6. "Standing Out in a Crowd" Trisha Yearwood
  7. "American Child" Phil Vassar
  8. "Bing Bang Boom" Highway 101
  9. "It's a Little Too Late" Mark Chesnutt
  10. "Carry On" Pat Green
  11. "Boogie Back to Texas" Asleep at the Wheel
  12. "The Girl You Left Me For" Deana Carter

Use Music BPM to Improve Your Speed

If you want to improve your running speed, listening to music whenever you hit the treadmill, pavement, track, or running trail can help you achieve this goal. There's something about hearing your favorite songs that can push you to the next level.

Once you become more familiar with your natural cadence, you can gradually add faster paced songs to your playlist so you continue to progress. If you're feeling adventurous, you may even want to incorporate songs from other genres.

A Word From Verywell

Go through your music library and pick out the songs that you feel will motivate you to run. There are also online tools available that can help you identify how many beats per minute a song has, making it easier to build your own personalized running playlists.

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Article Sources
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