‘The number that the PE teacher imposed still motivates me’

For top athletes it is forbidden during competitions, for recreational athletes it is allowed, thank goodness: sports with music in their ears. We asked our readers which songs drive them to peak performance. These are their answers.


Music can cheer you up, give you incentives and keep you going for longer. But even though the perfect sports song may not exist (read here how researcher Seppe Degelin comes pretty close), many sports enthusiasts know that one song that always works for them.

An anthology of our readers’ submissions can be found below. We also made a Spotify list with which you can run into the slopes or a forest path yourself.

Lessons lo

“Our high school physical education teacher used to play ‘Pump It Up’ by The Black & White Brothers in class. The first time while pumping. It made lo more fun. That’s how he got us motivated, and it still motivates me.”

Els Lambrecht (37) from Antwerp

stupid grin

“I choose ‘Opus’ by Eric Prydz. It might be a bit melodramatic, but that song is so well constructed. Three years ago I started jogging – as the ultimate anti-sports person. ‘Opus’ was one of the very first songs in my playlist. It starts off slow, but the pace picks up until with an idiotic grin on my face I race as hard as I can past older females and sometimes even younger males. After the climax it calms down again so that I can bulge. If this song had existed in my high school days, I would have done a lot better on that damn cooper test.”

Chantal van Hoof (44) from Kessel-Lo

Unexpected Favorite

“I’m a real metal fan, so ‘Rue’ by girl in red doesn’t really fit in my running list at all. Still, it’s my favorite song, which I almost always play first to get going. I suppose it’s the beat that sounds like it’s actually running.

The text also plays a part: ‘Yeah, I tried / To get it off my mind / To leave it all bеhind / Don’t wanna make it worse / I’m gonna make it work.’ Walking to organize your thoughts, to focus on the right things and worry less: that is very recognizable. The final, with an ‘explosion’ at the end, really makes it a running number.”

Steven Lambert (39) from Ardooie

One for Putin

“Just give me ‘Mass Destruction’ by Faithless (including the text ‘Whether long range weapon / Or suicide bomber / Wicked mind is a weapon / Of mass destruction / Whether you’re Soaraway Sun / Or BBC One / Misinformation is a weapon / of mass destruction’ed.).

If Vladimir Putin had more sports on this song, the world would be a better place now.”

Leila Eerens (31) from Schaerbeek

Inspiration from movie

“’Gonna fly now’ by Bill Conti – the theme song of the rockymovies – is hugely motivating after a long endurance workout or during the last kilometers of a marathon. The ‘getting strong now’ from the text gives me that extra push. Super song!”, says Niels Peeters (33) from Ranst.

A choice that Koen Claeys (50) can completely reconcile with: “The rousing fusion of funky disco and brass band music is pure nostalgia for people who, as teenagers, sympathized with the adventures of Sylvester Stallone on the big screen. The timeless track still remains an adrenaline rush that brings the athlete up with every hobby runner. Look how inspiring it is to see Rocky Balboa in Rocky II walking to this music up to the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.”

Convinced by Beyoncé

“My running number is ‘Freedom’ by Beyoncé because of the phrase: ‘I’ma keep running ’cause a winner don’t quit on themselves.’ I had signed up for the first edition of the Wings for Life running race, but had a very busy period at work and little time to train. That’s why I decided the week before not to participate. When I went for a walk one evening, this number came by. It seemed like a sign from above to participate. It was a fantastic match. I’m glad Beyoncé convinced me to participate!”

For others, all the musical violence is superfluous during sports. Also a selection from their reactions:

Ears go out

“Before corona, I used to listen to everything that propelled me with solid guitars while walking. Today: nothing more. The ears go out. I absorb the sound of the city. Or the birds that chirp, a branch that breaks, a bush that rustles in the forest. Only in this way do I stand in the ‘now’ while walking.”

Tim Verheyden (45) from Koekelberg

rustling leaves

“I want to enjoy nature while exercising. The blissful chirping of birds, the rustling of the leaves, babbling brooks: blissful.”

Dirk Bogaert (63) from Dendermonde

Sighing and depth

“I mostly listen to The Jog Club, a wonderful podcast about endurance sports. They invite cool guests every week and bring a pleasant mix of whining and depth.”

Adriaan Lampens (30) from Bruges

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