Olivia Emily’s Top 5 Alternative Running Tracks


In lockdown, with the government mandating one trip outside per day for exercise, a lot of Britons are picking up running and cycling to resist the ensuing cabin fever. I am one of these people. 

I’m a newbie, but I had taken all the steps to prepare myself – buying the right shoes, planning the best routes and eating the prescribed foods. However, there’s one thing I missed: the music. As it turns out, running isn’t as ‘plug and play’ as it seems; the wrong beat can be the difference between an energized jog and an uninspiring, foot-dragging traipse down the road. A one-size-fits-all ‘Running Tracks’ mix found online just doesn’t cut it.

Hence, the challenge has been to find alternative tracks to run to that break away from the ennui of overdone, ready-made playlists online. Here are my top picks for songs to spice up your Eat Sleep Run Repeat:

Hard Times // Paramore

A pop-rock track that’s a little more sugary than Paramore’s usual material, ‘Hard Times’ has a great beat to time your steps to. It’s a song about hitting rock bottom, which doesn’t sound immediately uplifting or motivating – but, when these gloomy lyrics are set to a catchy 80s-inspired track, I find a new spring in my step, and the lyrics become less about lingering on sadness and stagnation, and more about pulling yourself out of it.

Isombard // Declan McKenna

Enfield-born singer-songwriter Declan McKenna is famed for his politically-bent indie rock songs. ‘Isombard’ is no different, talking around experiences of patriotism and pride. “Well if you can’t walk then run” finds a fitting double meaning in the quarantine era. You’re right, McKenna – I’ll keep running.

U Got the Power // Swiss Lips

Those new to the sport will soon come to discover their ‘wall’. The opening lyrics to this electro-pop track, ‘If you’ve got the power, I’ve got the feeling’ reminds me of my strength and picks apart any demotivation that might be building. With its incessant synthy sound, repeated ‘ooh-ooh’s and hooking lyrics, the second single released by this Manchester-based band back in 2013 is a must-have running track.

Can’t Get Enough of Myself // Santigold

Another song with an irresistible beat – but with a little more bounce and sunshine than McKenna’s and Paramore’s tracks – the main appeal of the lead track of Santigold’s 2016 album, 99¢, is the empowering lyrics. ‘Ain’t a gambler but honey I’d put money on myself’ is an unapologetically self-loving lyric, and questions of mind, body and perception of self set this song up to be a winner with a modern audience. It’s refreshing to listen to a song that challenges self-doubt so hyperbolically, making it the perfect soundtrack to your brand new hobby.

Feel It Still // Portugal. The Man

‘Feel it Still’ took the world by storm in 2017, and when I started running to it, I felt like I’d cracked a code. If, like me, you love to run to a beat, this is the song for you; there’s something gratifying about timing your step to ‘Feel it Still’. This is my favourite song for when I feel like I can push no more, because you just have to keep pushing through the pain to keep in time with the beat.

Words by Olivia Emily

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