5 Best Broadway Musicals to Run to

Friday 5Is there a Les Mis fan anywhere who doesn’t have “One Day More!” on her running playlist right now?

The release of the Tom Hooper movie has made us Les Mis junkies go into Jean Valjean overdrive, and for weeks, I’ve been running with an abbreviated playlist of tunes from the West End show.  It’s abbreviated, of course, because you can’t keep a sustained pace when Eponine is dying in your earbuds,  babbling on weakly about rain and flowers and unrequited passion.  Lovely as they may be, songs like that have to go.

But cobble together a Broadway show’s most stirring numbers, and you’ve got the makings of a powerful hour on the road. Getting immersed in a musical’s storyline is a good anecdote for boredom that can occur on a long run when we’re accompanied by only a haphazard collection of unconnected tunes. And shows usually have a comical number or two that can make even a hard workout just plain fun.  (In Les Mis, it’s “Master of the House” which makes me laugh out loud no matter how many times I hear it.)

Not every Broadway show is a contender.  Avenue Q is one of the greatest shows of all time, but you can’t run to hardly any of it.  And I like Cats, but it wouldn’t get me to the end of my driveway.

So, to kick off your weekend long run, here are the FIVE BEST MUSICALS TO RUN TO  (grammatically incorrect, yes, but you will agree that that sounds much better than FIVE BEST MUSICALS TO WHICH YOU SHOULD RUN, yes?)

 1.      Mama Mia.    Can’t beat it for upbeat tempo, and just grin-out-loud fun.

No worries, there are plenty of other soundtracks availble on iTunes! (Image via Tumblr.)

2.     Les Miserables.  Edit heavily (see above), and you’ll be inspired to run through your own personal wretchedness and climb to the light pulsing at the peak of Heartbreak Hill.

3.     The Sound of Music.  An extraordinary cardio workout awaits anyone who can yodel to “The Lonely Goatherd” while maintaining an eight-minute pace.

4.      Evita.   Oh, come on, you didn’t think you’d get through this list without the presence of Andrew Lloyd Webber?    Cats is too uneven, and Jesus Christ Superstar is starting to get a tiny bit dated.  But Evita is fun, even when Madonna is involved, and “A New Argentina”  can match any pace.

5.     Oliver!  This is one of those soundtracks best listened to without too many people around, lest the men in white coats come get you laughing on the road.  “Consider yourself” on a long run if you’re listening to this, and put “Oom Pa Pa”  on the playlist least twice.

SALTIES, what great Broadway musicals do you listen to on the run? What great ones have we left out?

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I'm a single mother of four who has been running injury-free for 27 years, astonishingly without ever losing any weight. I'm a writer and editor near Boston, and author of "Honey, Do You Need a Ride? Confessions of a Fat Runner."

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  1. I’m aghast that this list doesn’t include South Pacific!! With great running tunes like “Nothing Like a Dame,” “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair,” “Happy Talk,” and “Honey Bun,” this show is great for running! But yeah, you definitely need to edit a bit; it takes a more talented runner than me to hold pace through “Some Enchanted Evening.” Nonetheless, you’ve outed me–I’m a closet Rogers and Hammerstein junkie!

  2. I actually thought I was the only person to run to some of these tunes! I have ‘the lonely goatherd’ on my race playlist as it makes me think of my little boy yodeling and also ‘Do you hear the people sing’ from Les Mis because I find it all inspiring.

    Haven’t seen Les Mis movie yet…the Husband insisted we saw the Hobbit. Is it any good?

    1. Well, not all the reviewers agree with me, but everyone I know who has seen it says it’s awesome. And I will see The Hobbit, too … but not until after I see Les Mis one more time! (no running inspiration that I know of in Tolkien, but that’s a post for another day….)

  3. This is great. I love Fiddler on the Roof. I could definitely do a string of the upbeat songs from that on a run (To Life!, Tradition, If I Were a Rich Man).

      1. Forgot the Bottle Song. I just downloaded a few. Thanks. I know I’ll have some fun on the treadmill this week even though, it is the treadmill. 🙂

  4. Great post. You are about one or two days ahead of me. I was just about to post all of my Les Mis thoughts, which I have seen multiple times, and how I was hoping to pay someone to run behind me, dressed as Javert, and belt out lyrics to The confrontation, and then, at the end, Javerts Suicide.

    But you forgot Wicked! Defying Gravity is one of my greatest running songs.

  5. I can listen to just about any kind of music and keep my pace/tempo going. Sometimes getting into the passion and moment of Eponine dying sets me on fire. I’ve been guilty of listening to a lot of Les Mis lately when I run.

    I like a lot of other Broadway music too. A Chorus Line has some good up tempo songs that I like. One, I hope I get it, etc. I have to keep from breaking out into a kick line while going down the road.

    Lots of good suggestions, both from your post and the comments. Thanks for the post!!

  6. This prompted me to go look through my iTunes and see what other songs I run to. Biggest one that caught my eye….Annie! Who doesn’t love to belt out Tomorrow while on a run?!?!? This has inspired me to make a Broadway running list 🙂

  7. I agree with Chisago. Chess is another great one- epic, rousing, long, and Idina Menzel and Josh Groban can really sing! Lately I’ve been listening to the book of Mormon while running.

  8. I love this! I’ve been running to Boradway tunes for years! Some recent favorites have been Newsies and Cinderella (shows I loved during a recent NYC trip). Thanks for the suggestions of others!