Spotify's New Feature Helps You Create A Running Playlist That Actually Motivates You

by Caroline Burke

Whether you're a cardio junkie or a reluctant jogger, it's always good to switch up your workout routine from time to time. You might come up with a different route through your neighborhood, or add new songs to an old playlist. But once you get access to Spotify and John Hancock's customized running playlists, you'll probably ditch your old songs altogether.

Designed as an effort to improve the training experience and quality for Boston Marathon runners, POPSUGAR Australia reports that this new collaboration between Spotify and financial service group John Hancock will give you a personalized playlist that's based on a) the music you already love to listen to, and b) a variety of factors related to how you run, including your pace, your mile time, and even your running style.

The partnership, named Run Elite, is all about helping runners achieve their best performances — and it's not just about the music you already listen to. According to a press release from Spotify, you'll also be able to view the curated playlists of successful professional runners, like four-time Olympian Shalane Flanagan, two-time Olympian Desiree Linden, and so much more. You'll also have access to motivational tips from these athletes, which you can always use more of when it comes to a workout as blah as running, amirite?

The purpose of this collaboration, according to John Hancock's chief marketing officer, Barbara Goose, was simple.

“In our 33 years sponsoring the Boston Marathon, we’ve never had the opportunity to offer this type of personal experience with our elite running team to so many," Goose explained.

She added,

This is a perfect fit with our 2018 Boston Marathon #TogetherForward theme because if anyone can motivate us forward, it is the John Hancock Elite Athlete Team.

If you want to use this feature yourself, it's super simple. All you need is a Spotify account (premium or otherwise), and then you go to the Run Elite website, plug in your desired run time, and the time it takes for you to run a mile. Follow the directions afterward to connect to Spotify, and before you know it, you've got a brand new curated running playlist.

Now, as a recreational runner who is absolutely nowhere near being able to run a whole marathon, I was obviously interested to see what my own curated playlist was like. So, I plugged in my info (an hour-long run, because that's the minimum you can input on the site, and an 8:30 mile time) and voila — my playlist was created.

Put bluntly, my playlist was nowhere near what I expected it would be. As a regular listener and avid lover of all things Eminem, I was surprised to see that my curated playlist included a mix of bluegrass, Coldplay, and Vance Joy. To be clear, I already play a lot of those music genres on my Spotify account, but I've never actually gone for a run while listening to any of these songs or artists.

Let's just get straight to the end result: My run was pretty brutal, and I didn't last the whole hour — but I found the music on my playlist surprisingly enjoyable to run to, in ways I never would have expected.

Although the Spotify press release doesn't specify exactly how these playlists are curated, my best guess, based upon my own playlist, is that it's a combination of tempo and preferences. Based upon my mile run, Spotify can probably estimate the tempo at which I move, and scan through the music I like to find the songs that fit that tempo.

While my own curated playlist may not have necessarily been a home run, the science behind how music affects your workout doesn't lie.

Finding the right music to listen to while you work out — and, more specifically, while you run — can actually change the effectiveness of your workout. For example, a 2017 study published in the Journal of Sports Sciences revealed that listening to music during sprint intervals can help improve both your attitude and even your attention span, thus improving the overall quality of your workout.

So, who knows, maybe I just need to experiment with different preferences on Run Elite's website to get the best results. According to POPSUGAR Australia, this feature will only be available until April 20, so you know what I'll be up to for the next several weeks.