Running up, over and through the cogs

Archive for February, 2013

Running with a Mind Full of Bach

bach with shadesI still belong to one of those good old fashioned email listservs.  It’s one that I have been a part of for a long time now — one I look forward to every afternoon; but at the same time it sort of stresses me out.  It stresses me out on a very superficial level, I admit, but still, stress is stress.

To be more accurate, this daily email often overwhelms me more than anything, as it generally features 20-40 individual links to the hottest news stories of the day.  These often include fascinating scientific breakthroughs, underground and outside mainstream opinion pieces and lots and lots of pictures of cats.  Rarely am I able to read/view every single one of them.  There just isn’t enough time!

Take the above alongside my afternoon dose of front-to-back Chicago Tribune reading, a neverending stream of Google Reader aggregated posts from my 100+ favorite blogs and the bevy of Facebook/Twitter feed links and articles being thrown my way every two seconds and I find myself actively vetting my reading material based on how sexy a URL may read.

There is just too much information out there — information I think I want! — attacking me via my laptop, my desktop, my phone, my other laptop and my BRAIN!  If I’m not careful, I become Fred Armisen, trapped in a technology loop:


Sometimes I get trapped in there, for very long, uncomfortable periods of time.

Running is the antidote.

Of course, I can’t always be running, or exercising for that matter.

Enter Johann Sebastian Bach.


I have long been acquainted with the works of Bach.  In high school and college I often cursed his named, wondering if he had ever even bothered to try singing one of his own tenor fugue creations.  People have to breathe, y’know.  Singers really need to breathe.

But sadly, my appreciation for his music never matured beyond the basic acknowledgement of his reinterpretation of what music could and should be.  I knew all the greats (Mozart, Chopin, Beethoven, etc) looked to him as the godfather of melody — that the foundation for the classical explosion was rooted in the Bach catalogue, but that was about it, and I never bothered to appreciate any of it.

More than a decade later, while circumventing the technology loop with a playlist full of Lady Gaga, Die Antwoord and Modeselektor, body and mind ready to explode from information overload, I stumbled across this:


Instantly, I was at peace.

And I was just getting started.

The last few months have been a joyous trip through the ever uplifting works of J.S. Bach.  From violin concertos to piano sonatas, to choral masses, organ fugues and everything in between, I have become a bonafide believer in the beautiful bounty of Bach.

And the very best part?

Now I am running to Bach.

Not with headphones.  I don’t run with music.  I don’t have to, because Bach is in my head.  It is always there and I am always elated!  No more I’m Henry the Eighth I Am poisoning my psyche.  No more Cotton Eyed Joe, no more Hey Mickey, no more Blue da ba de da ba die stuck on autoloop for miles and miles and miles.

No, sir.

Thanks to the musical genius of J.S. Bach, I am free.  Free at last!

FREE AT LAST!!!

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The Accidental Anatomist

human-anatomyLatissimus dorsi, vastus lateralis and brachioradialis, OH MY!

Before I became a serious runner, all of the above would have been Greek to me.  Or Latin.  Yeah, probably would have been Latin.*  But after several years of dedicated pavement pounding I am proud to report my working mastery of human anatomy — just one of the myriad benefits of identifying myself as a full-fledged running freak.

In fact, ever since making that dramatic transformation, I have notched one success after another.  I quit smoking.  I reached and now easily maintain optimal body weight.  I got cut up into a lean (still not so mean) fitness machine.

No longer do I suffer from long bouts of depression.  No more do I wake up feeling empty, without purpose, without drive.  I don’t stress nearly as much about mundane, trivial situations that are out of my control; and overcoming hardships — major bumps in the proverbial road of life — hardly seem as impossible as they once did.

Running has taught me how to live — how to really, truly live, in the present, now and forever.

But perhaps one of the most beneficial real world applications born from my active lifestyle is that I learned about my own body.  It started out simply, a long time ago by wondering what might be causing my heels to ache.  That led me to study the soleus… then the anterior and posterior tibialis… then the gastrucnemus, gracilis and sartorius.   Before I knew it I was knee leg deep in anatomical terms, Wikipedia entries and real world exercise science.

The real irony here — and my parents can attest to this — is that as a student, I nearly went out of my way to avoid the sciences.  I wanted nothing to do with understanding the mysteries of the body and in college, the only science classes I ever took were Rocks for Jocks and a bullshit applied chemistry class that I barely attended.

Fast forward to my 30s, after a couple years of really trying to understand my own body, I realized that all of the information I had retained could be applied to my workouts in the gym.  Suddenly, things began to click.  I was not only beginning to understand how my body worked, but also how I could manipulate it into doing what I wanted it to do faster, better and stronger.

And now I use that knowledge every day with my own clients.

Running isn’t just a recreational activity — it’s a potential life changer.  One need look no further than this blog, this LIFE, to see clear evidence of that.

*After much research, it was (and still is) Latin.

Injury Rehab Update

Since my recent less-than-ideal half-marathon experience, things have been going quite well.  I continue to strengthen my gluteus medius, hip flexors and hamstrings in an effort to eradicate the nagging symptoms of ITBS that have held me back since late October.  In recent weeks, I have been able to work in minimal low mileage speedwork as well as some long, slow distance runs — all without any knee pain.  This, to me, is further evidence that the Houston experience was just a simple case of too much, too soon.  I continue to build upon my workouts each week with the hope that I can put in a good effort at Boston.  I don’t expect I’ll be ready to run a fast time by April 15, but I do plan to enjoy the experience and cover the distance pain free.

Besides, I gotta give the gals at Wellesley College a good show of my gluteus maximus in my shortus shortius.