I love music.
I always have.
But I also love good food - especially good beer. Love, or obsession, often leads to overindulgence and undesirable medical outcomes. Thus, I'm forced by necessity to run, not sit in my living room with a musical instrument in one hand and an adult beverage in the other...pondering the mysteries of the universe; searching for the missing (and perfect) chord.
I learned the effect of music on athletic performance while dabbling in sports and playing in school bands. My Little League coach decided the world needed to hear the Eagles' new album in its' glorious entirety during a late season batting session. We both realized that my (shaky) hand-eye coordination, timing and swing mechanics amazingly improved during the second verse of "Life In The Fast Lane."
Sure to make you lose your mind.
Years down the road, running became therapy. After spending months and years listening to, learning and playing there were entire albums of music I could recall down to the note. A "Walkman with legs." So, when I reached a point where a run became daunting I could recall a tune which would allow me to forget whatever part of my body was uncomfortable and go to my happy place.
Some tunes are perfect for those easy days when the goal is, just simply, put time on the feet. This last Sunday I kept Angela company on her 12-miler; spare water bottle, cell phone and what-not. And "Little Wing" running through my head. A strange sense of coincidence (perhaps) came over me yesterday afternoon as I hit the last mile of my treadmill run...
Butterflies and zebras.
I had Sting's version in my head, but there's nothing like Jimi Hendrix in your treadmill loudspeakers. Or any loudspeakers, for that matter.
Music and running are individual tastes. Some folks who love to do really long runs, and dig pastoral or classical pieces. Then there are the short, fast, intense experiences which lend themselves to heavy metal or thrash. Occasionally a runner will show up for a speed workout at the track with a music player...I'm less cranky about it than I used to be, but I often tell them the music player will not be necessary:
First reason - a rare, occasionally strange activity in which I engage, called "coaching."
Second reason - fitness clubs who play music in the background will use a driving beat to keep the patrons pumped up...to a certain degree...during their workout. There are some workout studios where the music is more relaxed; those are the places where one might find the iron-slingers sporting headphones and pushing Drowning Pool into their brains.
Let the bodies hit the floor. As long as it's not mine.
My regular spinning instructor loves to play Motown during her classes; nothing says "torment" like a 17-minute standing climb while listening to Isaac Hayes. A friend of mine who substitute taught for her this week hit us with the "guitar god" playlist - Carlos Santana, Derek Trucks, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eric Clapton.
Good stuff, Maynard.
One of my co-workers complained that he was less likely to follow the cadence calls of the instructor than to the song tempo. Got it. Research shows we tend to lock into certain tempos and beats and stay there. That's the reason Pharrell Williams, Daft Punk and Nile Rodgers are so, um, infectious right now. They make us, er, "happy." We do what it takes to stay in that happy place.
Racing, however, is all about not staying in ones' happy place, but of going a little beyond it. So if I come beside you at a race and I can hear the faint strains of "Blurry" I'll safely assume you have a very intense happy place.