Monday, May 10, 2010

What goes through your mind?

Last week was not a great week for training: Mon-0 miles, Tues 8 miles(fastest this year), Wed. 4 miles (had to walk back to the track from the Millyard in the middle of the workout-not feeling good) ,Thurs 0 miles, Fri. 8 miles, Sat. 8 miles. Total for the week 28 miles. After Saturday's race my hips were having alignment troubles and that was coupled with a lot of new and extra activities which seem to get my hips and back fighting back against new changes in alignment. I missed a few days with everything feeling horrible, but when I did get out the door, I had some of my fastest training runs of the year. Go figure.

Besides feeling lousy most of last week, my computer died and I lost my iPod shuffle. Everything was going wrong and falling apart. I had to buy a new computer and eventually found my iPod (after 35+ years of running, I need some music to keep me company) otherwise it can be difficult to get out the door. Once I found my iPod, I got to relisten to the "angry at the world" music of Titus Andronicus's "The Monitor" (good review here)

(see there is some running and steeplechase(?)action going on in the video)

I am not sure I would recommend this music to everyone, but it is a bit rowdy if you like that, and the lyrics can be insightful, demanding, yet crass. The album is somewhat of a Civil War concept album as much as an album about the divisions and desperation of modern life. Some songs start or end with quotes by Abraham Lincoln, Walt Whitman, Jefferson Davis, and William Lloyd Garrison. As such, it strives to make you think, but its bombastic pace and fury certainly make good fuel for an energetic run and I need some good musical fuel for my running. Of course, if enough wailing at the world, the economy, wars,and everything else in between including New Jersey, "The enemy is everywhere", "You will always be a loser", “It's still us against them and they're winning” and tweaks on Springsteen "Tramps like us, baby, we were born to die" gets you feeling a bit, well, hopeless, then end the run with songs from the new cd from The Alarm, called "Direct Action".

Here a 51 year Mike Peters (less than a month younger than me) shows the young guys that you can still rock with conviction into your 50's. "Direct Action" tells you to quit your moaning and "Make a Stand" against all the things that fuel Titus Andronicus's angst. As Mike sings the Willie Nile song "One Guitar", he is not the soldier left dying on the fields of battle of "The Monitor" but a soldier who sings,

"So if you get knocked down... you gotta take a stand
For all the outcast, dead last... who need a helping hand
You've got to raise your voice... raise it up loud
You've got to raise your voice... above the crowd

'Cause I’m a soldier marching in an army
I got no gun to shoot all I've got is ONE GUITAR"

So that is what I do when I run. I get the music going and while I concentrate on my form, my brain free associates with the music making connections all over the place as the music paces me. When I hear "You will always be a loser" I hear the sprint coach at my high school taking me aside one day and saying, "Jim, why do you keep running? You'll never be any good at it!" and I resolve myself to keep going. When I feel like giving up as I hear "Tramps like us, baby we were born to die" I think of running a 50 mile workout on the track one December night in college and getting close to 40 miles into it when someone hooks up a large stereo system on the infield (no iPods back then)so I can hear Springsteen sing, "Tramps like us, baby we were born to run" and I finish the thing. When I hear Mike Peters of The Alarm sing, I recall 25+ years of the music of The Alarm intertwining with my running and a Boston concert 10 years ago, when Mike sang a song dedicated to my young daughter, Emily. The same, now 15 year old, girl who sang along to "Direct Action" in the car yesterday and then asked, "Who is singing this?" And then I think of what "direct action" I need to take to keep up my own running gig. I think of all those doctors and therapists through the years who questioned why I keep running and who asked (or told) me to consider stopping! And I keep trying and learning new things as I bring my body back into balance.

I don't know what goes through anyone else's head while they run, but that is what happens in mine. During a one hour run, my brain can write a whole music review and running blog post in one, cover the time span from high school to my 50's, kill the negative thoughts and think with a positive resolve, and feel good and refreshed at the end when all is done. There is something very good about a one-hour run! I can't imagine what I would want to do in place of that.

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