I hate mile 11.
I hate mile 11 of the run just like I hate that millionth rehearsal when you’re still plunking notes. It feels grueling. It feels like unavoidable failure. But, then something wonderful happens… you turn the corner. There’s a little bit of breeze or maybe the harmonies start to line-up. Whatever it is, it feels better. In fact, it feels damn good.
That is why we train for sports like running and singing. We train our bodies to work through the rough times so that it becomes easier to turn the corner. Teaching ourselves to realize and manifest our purpose comes with time. Those hours on the track or our hours in the practice room really pay off when it comes time for the marathon. Since I am running my first marathon in October, (ohmygoodnessit’sonlyweeksaway!) the concept of training has been on my mind a lot recently. Alexis Del Palazzo of The Sensible Flutist, had the very same thing on her mind. Her thoughts on synthesizing the concepts of music practice and marathon training truly resonated with me. I hope you enjoy her guest post here and you will visit The Sensible Flutist for more interesting tips and articles.
Practice like you Train
Alexis Del Palazzo is an active performer and devoted teacher who has performed widely across the United States. Taking a holistic approach to the flute, Alexis teaches the fundamentals of the flute from the ground up, focusing on body awareness and musical expression. In addition to her teaching studio, Alexis freelances throughout the Central Pennsylvania region. She holds a Bachelor’s of Music degree in flute performance with special distinction from the University of Oklahoma-Norman where she studied with Dr. Valerie Watts.
I had a perhaps not so novel idea today. Why should we practice the same things every day? Instead, why shouldn’t we have a larger purpose for every single practice session and take some ideas from runners?
I’m a lapsed runner of sorts. I still run regularly, but I haven’t trained since I was an overly enthusiastic newbie two years ago. I’m in a rut. In this rut I let my subscription to Runner’s World expire, too.
I resubscribed in a hope to get some kind of motivational tip that would spur me back into a crazed training phase. I’ve been reading a few pages here and there and I read today about how and why you should have a purpose before you even begin running. Without a purpose, it’s too easy to get bound up in time contraints, the weather, or any of the million other reasons we usually fail to do what we say we’re going to do.
Yeah, we should have a purpose when we practice. That part is pretty obvious. But have we related our purpose to longer term goals in a meaningful way?
I run about 3 to 4 times a week. One day consists of a long run, which serves to build up endurance and help strengthen the legs and I do speedwork once a week to get faster. The remaining 2 days are easy runs, where I’m letting the work of the harder two workouts settle in.
I hate doing the same thing every day, so I’m not one for making up a routine. Instead, I tend to go with the flow which sometimes sets me up for failure. Translating my running workouts into my flute workouts might help me reach my goals faster. So here’s a quick sketch of how my different training runs relate to my practice sessions:
The Long Run – A longer than average practice session that gives you adequate time to cover all the areas of your playing that need consistent attention. It’s also the time to just enjoy the feeling of being able to play your instrument and not have to watch the clock.
Speedwork – Technical practice. Want to bump up your scales a couple notches on the metronome? Treat this “workout” as speedwork and limit to one or two days a week.
The Recovery Run – Focused, slow practice. Practice what you need to, but let your body assimilate the changes you’re making in your playing. Enjoy the recovery.
The Social Run – Jam session!
The Whatever Run – Play what you want without pressure. Use it as opportunity to explore different areas of your awareness. Or don’t.
I’m going to play around with this idea, and create a weekly practice plan that engages all these elements. I’ll let you know how it turns out.