I’ve never been very keen on what is commonly considered ‘running music’. Compilations such as Now! That’s What I Call Running and Spotify running playlists usually have some good classic tracks on them, but they also tend to contain the kind of music you hear in the gym – endless high-energy electro dance music, with the idea being that it makes you run faster. I am a slow runner – for the record, the song that most frequently gets stuck in my head during long runs is Duran Duran’s Come Undone, which gives you an idea of the kind of pace I go at. As such, my running playlist is a little more sedate, focuses on iconic running themes rather than speed – and, like most of my playlists, has a high quotient of ’80s hits. Let’s go!
10. Bryan Adams – Run To You
If it was a hit in the ’80s and it’s got ‘run’ in the title, you can bet that it will end up on my running playlist at some point.
The video for this one features a lot of footprints in the snow, meaning that the invisible runner who left them is a lot more hardcore than me! I don’t go out running in ice and snow (it’s dangerous and slippy), preferring to stick to my nice indoor treadmill during winter weather.
9. Bill Conti – Gonna Fly Now
The Rocky theme is one of those iconic pieces that always shows up whenever someone on TV does a parody training montage. Get running up those steps!
Here’s a clip from the film with the music – lots of running around disused railway tracks and so on. In most things I believe the ’80s to be absolutely supreme, but I am glad that we’ve since invented proper technical materials so that we don’t have to wear full cotton tracksuits to go running in the winter anymore!
8. Matthew Wilder – Break My Stride
This chirpy, upbeat theme was played at the end of the BBC’s London Marathon coverage a couple of years ago, thus reminding me to add it to my running playlist. Whoever’s in charge of the coverage always picks a really good song for the ending.
There’s no official video for the song, but this Top of the Pops clip is absolutely classic ’80s TOTP – shiny sets, balloons being bounced everywhere, audience members making every effort with their fabulous outfits!
7. Heaven 17 – Let Me Go
I discussed this lovely eerie, classic-phone-laden video in a dedicated post earlier this year – it’s actually the video that merited the song’s inclusion on the running playlist, because of Glenn Gregory’s slo-mo running away from nothing in particular past the National Westminster Bank!
6. Jon & Vangelis – I’ll Find My Way Home
Another track that was used for the BBC’s London Marathon coverage, and another track where the TOTP clip will have to substitute for the video. This one is a slightly more serious performance, with proper musical instruments and a set that strangely reminds me of an Italian restaurant.
5. A Flock Of Seagulls – I Ran
Like Let Me Go above, this track was never actually a Top 40 hit in the UK, though it’s stayed in the popular consciousness over the intervening thirty-odd years. That title ensures its inclusion on the playlist!
The video, which on paper is just the band performing in a room, is a classic due to its highly ’80s effects, which involve a lot of mirrors and tinfoil. I love the fact that tinfoil was once considered respectable set dressing! (See also: almost every episode of ’80s Doctor Who.)
4. Journey – Don’t Stop Believin’
I hear this at every race – of particular note is the band that plays at approximately mile eight of the Great North Run. I have heard them play Don’t Stop Believin’ every single year I’ve run the race! I assume they just stand there playing it over and over for the four hours it takes every runner to go past.
There was never an official video made for this one, so the video that music channels always show is this live performance from Houston. It really captures the atmosphere of big arena shows at the time.
3. Kate Bush – Running Up That Hill
Hills I regularly do where this song comes into my head include the hill you have to do twice during Pendle parkrun, the ‘Slog on the Tyne’ at the Great North 10k, and Arthur’s Seat during the EMF 10k. However, they all pale in comparison to the hill I was running up during my first summer of training in 2015, when I was on holiday in France. You’d need those godlike powers that Kate sings about to manage that one with any speed!
The video is more about artistic dancing than running, but it’s very pretty.
2. Mark Knopfler – Local Hero
This is a really emotional one because it’s a Newcastle anthem that is always played on the start line of the Great North Run (to celebrate the 60,000 people who run it as well as Knopfler himself, who grew up in Newcastle and is thus a ‘local hero’ round these parts).
There’s no official video, but here’s a live video from a Sydney concert during the classic Dire Straits period in 1986…
…and a bonus video that was filmed by an audience member a few weeks ago when Mark Knopfler played the Newcastle Arena, so you can hear the Geordie audience’s reaction. I didn’t go to this show because I’ve already spent out on gigs this year (and also I’m not a fan of his ’90s solo stuff due to my parents constantly playing it on long car journeys when I was a kid).
1. Vangelis – Chariots Of Fire
The ultimate iconic slo-mo running music! Originally composed for the Chariots Of Fire film in 1982, it’s since been used in a thousand homages and parodies, and is often played at races (it was played when I ran into Gateshead Stadium as the very last runner in the 2016 Great North 10k, which remains possibly my favourite ever running moment).
The video is mostly clips from the film, but there’s also a lot of shots of Vangelis playing piano and fiddling with his synthesisers while chain-smoking (continuing that super healthy athletic theme!).
Bonus ’90s track: Duran Duran – Come Undone
I mentioned this one at the start of the post, and I highly recommend it for fellow slow runners! A lovely sedate tune for ambling along to during a long run.
The pretty aquarium-set video is always worth a watch too!
More music videos next Monday.