It’s about that time. I’m ramping into the heart of my half marathon training, which means more running, more miles, and more excuses to drink chocolate milk. One of the keys to getting through this strenuous stretch is having an arsenal of great running playlists at my disposal.
What makes a great playlist is subjective, of course, with each individual bringing their own musical tastes and varied approaches to training to the table. Some runners hit it hard from beginning to end, pumping adrenaline into their hearts via their ear buds. Others like to ease into into a training sessions, increasing musical tempo and pace as they go. In the past, super-charging my engine from the first track has led to me wearing myself out too quickly, so I tend to go with the latter.
Despite all of the playlist individualism, I’d like to take this opportunity to humbly recommend a few of my favorite running songs from the 1980s.
Song: One Vision
Album: A Kind of Magic (1986)
Is this one of Queen’s most popular songs? Hell no. Did it appear in the classically mediocre film Iron Eagle? Hell yes! This song always reminded me of Jason Gedrick and Lou Gossett Jr. flying into a Middle Eastern dictator’s poorly defended country to save Col. Ted Masters. That is until I added it to a running playlist about a decade or so ago. Now it reminds me of finishing off a run with pace and adrenaline. Chappy!
Alternate Queen Song for your Playlist: Under Pressure
Song: We’re Not Going to Take it
Artist: Twisted Sister
Album: Stay Hungry (1984)
If you grew up in the ‘80s, you surely remember seeing Twisted Sister videos on MTV starring the guy who played Neidermeyer in Animal House. Of course, if you’re under thirty you probably have no idea who Neidermeyer even is. This classic metal anthem gets your legs moving and inspires you to tell off your parents, even if you’re middle aged.
Alternate Twisted Sister Song for your Playlist: Burn in Hell
Song: March of the Swivelheads
Artist: The English Beat
Album: B-side on Jeanette single (1982)
March of the Swivelheads – which is actually an instrumental version of their song Rotating Heads – is fantastic for running. Maybe it’s because of the steady, driving bass line… or the bitchin’ horns… or because in the 1986 classic Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, it’s the music playing when Ferris races home to avoid getting caught by his parents. (Spoiler Alert! He pulls it off.)
Alternate English Beat Song for your Playlist: Mirror in the Bathroom
Song: Kids in America
Artist: Kim Wylde
Album: Kim Wylde (1981)
If you’re into ’80s new wave, you’re surely familiar with this single. If you’re not, you may find the synthesizers overwhelming. (The early part of the decade were really halcyon days for synth players.) I recommend strategically placing Kids on the backside of your playlist as it will certainly give you that little extra kick you need to finish off your run. And if it doesn’t, I’ll just assume there’s something wrong with you, not the song.
Alternate Kim Wylde Song for your Playlist: I don’t actually know any other Kim Wylde songs.
Song: You’re the Best Around
Artist: Joe Esposito
Album: The Karate Kid Soundtrack (1984)
I get it. You don’t want to put this song on your playlist. After all, it’s a cheesy, not-actually-that-good tune used in the Karate Kid during the montage where Daniel-son lays waste to the competition at the All-Valley Karate Tournament. But you should sweep the leg and put it on your playlist anyway. Why? Because you’re the best around, that’s why. And nothing’s ever going to keep you down.
Alternate Karate Kid Song for your Playlist: Glory of Love by Peter Cetera from Karate Kid II. (Just kidding.)