July 1st 2010
Two years ago I picked up long distance running as a way to quick smoking. I was smoking a pack a day and getting worse by the month. Getting up and running every morning was a way to keep my mind off the cravings. I started at one mile per day. At the time I had just joined the band Black Cat Bone and was gigging about twice a month.
I set my eyes on the California International Marathon as a solid goal to train for over the next six months. Training daily quickly increased my weekend runs to 5-10-15 miles. Realizing that there is a lot of time to psych yourself out as you put one grueling step in front of the other, I regularly distracted myself by mentally running harmonica scales and licks through my head. Those thoughts worked surprisingly well to improve my speed in running scales when I got back to having my harmonica in hand.
So the first thing that running did for me was it gave me time to practice my repetitions in my head. Not just scales, I played licks, I wrote songs, I conjured up lyrics and all the while I was running without a harmonica. Just the thought process and day dreams of doing it.
The second thing that running did for my playing is it has gave me an unbreakable rhythm. I am a White Boy! I do believe that I have a little more soul than 90% of while folks out there, but there is always room for improvement. The rhythm of running is something that taps into your heart. Not heart like soul, but your actual blood pumping organ. Your steps become directly tied to the beat of every pump your heart makes. You begin to demand that rhythm. Beatbox Harmonica. I’ll be one to say, that on mile number 20, your rhythm and that faint song in the back of your mind that has kept you going over the last 8 miles, may be the only thing you have left to hang on to as you reach your finish line.
I firmly believe that “Long distance running helps establish solid rhythm, and solid rhythm is a necessity to being a good musician.” Somebody write that down.
Lastly………Wind! A month ago I played 7 blues shows in a 7 day period. Each show was 4 hours long. So when you are huffin and puffin on that bullet microphone in the 4th hour of a show and you want to kick your eighth notes into sixteenth notes or thirtysecond notes on the peak of your solo, you need to have lungs and a diaphragm that are conditioned to take you there.
Running has greatly improved my quality of life mentally and physically. Playing the harmonica has also helped me in same ways and I feel that they compliment each other very very well.
By the way its been one year and 359 days since my last cigarette. Still running.