Runner’s High: 8 Songs That Prove Tom Petty is a Runner

Tom Petty is a runner. I don’t care what you say.

I know he wants to “…get to the point” and “…roll another joint,” and he talks of dancing with Mary Jane, but if you dig into his song list, he might just be a runner at heart.  The following songs suggest Tom Petty is one of us runners.

1.    Runnin’ Down a Dream – I will just get the obvious song out of the way.  This is all about freedom and speed:

Trees flew by, me and Del were singin’ little Runaway, I was flyin.”

I felt so good like anything was possible, I hit cruise control…”

While it is a driving song, this will get you running.  Let’s face it, when we are running, we do feel that anything is possible, and Mr. Petty might have some insight into this.  Then again, the same feeling might apply to getting high (I would not know anymore).

2.    Saving Grace – This song is about finding oneself and finding redemption.  Is this not a perfect theme for runners, especially while trying to get over a bad race?  Also, do we not problem solve and work out our daily issues while on the run?  If we don’t do this, at least we get some temporary peace from our daily issues while running.

And it’s hard to say who you are these days, but you run on anyway. Don’t you baby?

You keep running for another place to find that saving grace…”

This is about moving forward, and not stagnating.  We are always looking to improve as runners, and perhaps Tom Petty knows something about PRs.

3.    Running Man’s Bible – This song is about tough times and weathering the storm.  We have all been there during a race. You know that moment in a race or during a workout when you think about giving up but somehow you don’t?

Here’s one to glory

And survival

And stayin’ alive

It’s the runnin’ man’s bible

I don’t speak of the times I nearly died

Sometimes running and racing is a war of attrition, and usually this war is fought against ourselves, our mind vs. our body.  Sure, we sometimes size up other runners at the starting line, but at the end of the day we are truly racing ourselves.

4.    I Won’t Back Down – This song is simply about Badassery.  You can throw anything you want at Mr. Petty, but he will surely stand his ground.  Life sometimes throws curveballs at us, but we adjust, learn a lesson here and there and move on (hopefully).  This also applies to running. Inevitably, there will be a new situation, perhaps during a race that will catch us off guard. It could be a downpour at Mile 5 of a marathon, or bad cramping on a hot day.  This is when we learn about ourselves and how we react in such situations.

5.    Big Weekend – This song is simple: Road trip and weekend fun, and hey, race weekends are big weekends, aren’t they?  Mr. Petty’s attitude in this song is to live in the moment…a use it or lose it mentality…

If you don’t run you rust”

I don’t know about you, but I want to run over a lifetime, and Tom seems to have a point here. Do it as long as you can.  Once you stop, bad things happen.

6.    All You Can Carry – This is about moving on. As runners, we sometimes have trouble moving on. We analyze our races to death, even the good ones.  We are never 100% satisfied.  Well, Tom is telling us to lighten up…not necessarily to lighten our loads…but to move on…

“Take what you can

All you can carry

Take what you can

And leave the thoughts behind

We got to run

Sage advice from someone that could get away with this look:


Remember this video?

7.    American Girl – Come on, can’t you see Tom Petty running out on Route 441 down in his home state of Florida?  Well, maybe not, but perhaps his old girlfriend did, you know…the one raised on promises?

After all it was a great big world

With lots of places to run to

And if she had to die tryin’

She had one little promise she was gonna keep

So, if you know what this song is really about, you’re rolling your eyes right now (or you suddenly want to watch Fast Times at Ridgemont High).

8.    Walls – This one is a stretch but bear with me.  Often, I will describe my runs as either “diamonds” or “rocks,” depending on whether they are good or bad.  Well, this is exactly how Mr. Petty opens this song.  Okay, this is a love song, but it is about endurance and patiently waiting.  Mr. Petty is not writing about the walls we may encounter during a race, but he is taking about holding out for something to believe in…sounds like a distance runner’s mentality to me.

So if you think Tom Petty is singing about the munchies, you might want to dig deeper. Perhaps he is simply fueling up for his next race.  Maybe he’s been talking about Runner’s High all along.


Maybe he is a trail runner?

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