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Coach Greg's Twisted Triathlon Training Playlists

Just had an athlete ask about running with earbuds in. My answer: Meh. Keep the volume low. You should be able to hear a Tesla driving by. Be safe.

What about biking? Stationary bike: crank it up. BUT! Never outside. Never.

For swimming? Short answer: Nope. Longer answer:

No, better to focus on technique and mechanics. Always room for improvement. Also, not worth the expense. Think in terms of cost per use over time. Men could spend same money on three swimsuits and women (not fair, I know) could get one swim suit.

Generally speaking, it's better to leave the earbuds at home. Focus on breathing and whatever else is going on biomechanically. A quiet run can be therapeutic and restorative. Unplug and enjoy regular outdoor sounds. Birds. Traffic. Wind. Barking. Whatever.

Sometimes though, like in January, with an ambiguous race calendar playing havoc with plans, we get bored and maybe even (gasp!) a little demotivated. Especially in the absence of training partners, we just want some music to keep us company while running or lifting or biking indoors. Music can also be therapeutic and restorative.

We all keep lots of music on our phones. Personally, I find it's easier to ask somebody what music they are listening to than, oh... I dunno, religion or politics. Ideally, we'd listen to it on their phone so I can Shazam(tm) it. Then I end up with gigantic playlists to search for something that either matches my mood or sparks some giddyup.


So I went and cherry picked a few that may or may not be right for long weekend runs. Or short easy runs. My only real criteria: they make me smile when they pop up during my runs. Hard to be more subjective than that.

Official video links when I could find them, or just as likely the version I prefer.

No Rick Rolls (to my knowledge). Apologies for commercials, too. Artists gotta monetize.

Also, all Missy Elliot videos are glorious national treasures. And Bruno Mars is a delight. But so are ZZ Top, Eric B. and Rakim and The Romantics.

Heck, if you're riding a trainer go ahead and click through to the videos. Enjoy the whiplash of going from Van Halen's Runnin' with the Devil to Lizzo's Tempo. Ponder the psychology of going from James Brown to Soundgarden. I do. Or just go ahead and jump around. Maybe make it a game.

Warming Up

Smoothed out tunes to ramp up intensity without burning out the engine.

Gearing Up

Getting a steady pace going with these.

Strong Steady Smooth

Jam bands, jazz and DJs going long...

Hills / Tempo / Fartlek / Speed work

Sure, there are apps that can help sync interval with recovery. Have fun with those. I like to have my music go hard regardless of whether I'm in a high intensity interval or recovering. Agg rap does a lot for me.

Cool Down

Hard work done. Let's just ease the HR down and stretch and recover.

Great but TOO On the Nose

Literally describing the action. The cliché list. Still strong.

Who Says Everything Gotta Fit Perfectly

Got tired of setting up links. Anyway...


I hope you had as much fun getting through the lists as I had making them. Curating ain't easy but it's fun. Kinda like triathlon. I hope you find your way to more great music.

Some other things to keep in mind. First, I get ZERO compensation from anybody for making this list. I own NONE of the music. In fact, like most folks, I pay Apple to put songs on my phone. So if you like the songs, don't just rip them from YouTube. BUY the songs properly so the artists get paid.

Also not a paid promotion, but Apple does a good job at making personalized favorites lists (privacy is dead, might as well have some fun).

If you're into finding original sources of newer music samples, Apple curates "Flipped" lists. Which are amazing. For example, Apple's "Flipped: Herbie Hancock" starts with Fat Mama because 2Pac sampled it on If My Homie Calls, which is the next song on the list. The whole list is built like that. Source/Sampled/Source/Sampled. Really fantastic concept for finding hidden gems.

Furthermore, I hear good things from the youngsters about Spotify and SoundCloud these days. Coming soon: my Soundcloud lifting list. Maybe.

Lastly, you may have noticed a decidedly 80's slant to this list. Well, that's because I graduated from high-school in 1986.

I'd love to hear what you are listening to. Contact me.


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