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10 Songs For Running at Dawn

Carlo Allegri, Getty Images
Runners need playlists like they need proper shoes, and whether picking music or footwear, the right fit is absolutely essential. For those dedicated (read: neurotic) joggers who prefer to log their miles early in the morning, before the sun comes up, the challenge is to find songs that are invigorating but not jarring, inspirational but not cloying. Running at dawn, the mind is still foggy, and the air is bound to be chilly. It’s dark and misty, and if you live near woods, you might encounter wild animals. Arm yourself with this latest Super Specific Weekly Playlist, however, and you’ll make it back to your coffee machine with mind and body intact.


‘Healthy Body, Sick Mind’

Operation Ivy



It might seem counterintuitive to start your jog with a song about why jogging is stupid — “The money you spend on running shoes could feed me for a week,” frontman Jesse Michaels sings — but this late-'80s Bay Area punk-ska anthem serves as a reminder of why you’re out there in the first place. You’re not like those laze-abouts who sleep late and coast through life. You’re a go-getter, a day seizer. What’s more punk rock than that?



‘Running Up That Hill’




The Kate Bush original would be too cliché, and plus, this Chromatics cover has the haunted feel you want at 5:15AM, when the wet streets reflect the blinking traffic lights, and you reflect on whatever woke you up before your alarm.



‘Speedway King’

Dirty Beaches



Chromatics are mildly creepy, but Dirty Beaches are borderline terrifying. For 3:33 — halfway to 6:66, it should be noted — you’re not running for exercise; you’re running for your life. It’s like being in a David Lynch film. Watch out for the owls. They’re not what they seem.



‘Wilder, Wilder, Faster, Faster’

The Cramps



Lux Interior and Poison Ivy lighten the mood and kick up the tempo with this spunky punkabilly burner. The lyrics are pure B-movie stream-of-consciousness — “Go naked as nature intended / Stand under heaven with natures extended / Wilder wilder faster faster/ Psycho slaves and schizo masters!” — and as you keep pace with Lux's sicko ramblings, your mind will work harder than your legs.



‘Never Surrender’

Chin Chin



At this point, you’re feeling good. You’re ready to punch a hole in anyone who crosses your path. Luckily, the only other people out on the roads are fellow joggers, and when you pass them, you give a little nod. Whether they’re listening to this great Swiss all-girl fuzz-pop band, they’re not going to surrender either.



‘Nowhere Fast’

The Smiths



Morrissey and Marr are in full-on indie-billy mode, fitting jangle and twang to a righteous galloping beat. “When I’m lying in my bed / I think about life and I think about death/ and neither one particularly appeals to me,” Moz sings. You can’t relate. You’re not in bed.



‘409 In Your Coffee Maker’

Green Day



You’re almost done, and you can taste that first cup of coffee. This song has nothing to do with your beloved morning beverage, but it is a terrific jolt of early Green Day — a sound so good that even the band has come back to it. (Get '¡Uno!' It’s better than you think.)



‘Take Me Over’

Cut Copy



Men at Work meet Hot Chip for Fosters cans and Vegemite sandwiches on this absolutely perfect dance-pop song. The thought of stopping never crossed your mind, but even if it had, this tune would have kept your legs pumping and endorphins flowing. Go ahead, make a little dance move with your arms. No one’s watching.



‘Wordy Rappinghood’

Tom Tom Club



“Why is the last mile the hardest mile?” Morrissey once asked. It’s a good question — and one you won’t need to ponder while this classic New Wave rap jam is playing. At 6:27, it’ll propel you through a rather brisk final mile.



‘Deep One Perfect Morning’

The Jesus and Mary Chain



Here’s your cool-down track. You just went nearly a full hour without seeing another living soul (other runners don’t count), and now you’re ready to face the world. “Deep one perfect morning / as the sun is heading up into the sky / And I'm sitting here warming to the coldness of the things that meet my eye,” the verse goes. Even if you weren’t out of breath, you couldn’t have said it better.


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