by Karen Sherwood in Training Tips, image by Fe Ilya

15 Best 80’s songs for your Running playlist

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Growing up in the 80’s I can tell you we’ve had our share of interesting styles: the acid-washed jeans, teased hair, no-calorie Tab, and who could forget Jello pudding pops!  Everyone had a poster on their wall of someone. There were of course, the Ricky Shroder and New kids on the block types that also owned an average of 8.5 cabbage patch kids and at least one broken down pink Barbie corvette in the corner of their living room.

I was the rocker kid with the Jon Bon Jovi poster on my wall and about 7000 cassette tapes to go with it!  MTV was in full swing, and my friends and I had front row seats when the Thriller video was released with a parental advisory warning beforehand. What rebels we were. Not many would disagree that this decade gave us more guilty pleasures than any other. Call me old-school, but I believe they just don’t make music like they used to (with a few exceptions of course). As queen of the mix-tape, (sorry playlist) I have about 90 running mixes in my Ipod, and today I am sharing some of those timeless favorites from the 1980s, so fire up those boom-boxes and away we go!

1. Take on me – Aha

This is going to sound crazy, but the beat of this song gets you to a nice run at about 6.4 mph if you run the perfect stride. Come for a run with me sometime and I’ll show you what I mean.

2. Burning Heart – Survivor

I’ve decided to skip Rocky III’s Eye of the Tiger, and head straight for IV with one of the best motivational tunes of the decade. I am only to assume that the band, Survivor must’ve known something about determination.

3. Ride like the Wind – Christopher Cross

A bit on the softer side, but still packs a punch. Here’s where I imagine that I’m in a movie running from someone and I’m trying to get away. You laugh, but it works!

4. No easy way out – Robert Tepper

In my humble opinion, Rocky IV had the best music of all the Rocky’s. How can you not start running faster when this song comes on? Just when you thought you were alone, Ivan Drago is coming to get your ass!

5. Welcome to the Jungle – Guns & Roses

G&R had a string of great tunes, but nothing gets my heart pumping like this one. Axl Rose explains the theory of “Survival of the fittest” pretty eloquently.

6. Sunday Bloody Sunday – U2

If only for the drumbeat alone, you must include this song into your run! I like to do sprints during all the choruses and slow down for the verses.

7. Bust-a-move – Young MC

Oh what fun this song was! It’s ok to enjoy a little dance break here to get that heart rate up even further.

8. Little Red Corvette – Prince

This song must’ve been about one electric chick!  Though there are several Prince songs to choose from, this is a great warm up song that gets me fired up every time.

9. Dream on – Aerosmith

One of the greatest songs ever written so why not give it a listen while you run? In fact, go ahead, and cue it up for your biggest hill!

10. Sister Christian – Night Ranger

“You’re motoring. What’s your price for flight?” Ponder over this question until your cool-down.

11. Love is a Battlefield – Pat Benatar

What a range on this woman! Definitely include this on your running mix if you’re mad at someone. Trust me, you will beat your time.

12. Jump – Van Halen

Even more perfect if you’re training to do hurdles, this ridiculously cool hit still makes the cut. Makes me wanna take out those dusty, tight spandex and rip ‘em in all the good spots!

13. Maniac – Michael Sembello

Who could forget Flashdance? Fashion tip: It’s ok to put the leg-warmers on right on top of your running pants and pretend you are the girl in this video.

14. Hungry like the wolf – Duran Duran

One of my favorites by these soft-rockers, especially when the girl starts screaming at the end. Back in the 80s this song was considered risque’, and for damn good reason!

15. No sleep til Brooklyn – Beastie Boys

A great song to zone out to, mid run. You can’t quit now with the B boys screaming in your face?


Enjoy your run! Don’t forget to wear a bright headband.

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