April 19, 2013

Fitness and Creativity

I was out for a run this morning, and not really thinking, but letting my thoughts tumble over each other under their own steam, like balls in the cage at a BINGO game.

I have never been a runner.  An athlete, yes.  A dancer, yes.  But never a runner.  As a woman who grew up playing team sports, I found myself in my early twenties living in a town that thrives on individual sports like running, skiing, and cycling.  I found it hard to adjust.

Three pregnancies, a major back injury, and many many minor recurrences have made the return to proper fitness a long road.  So now I'm a runner.  Not a good runner, but I run.  I started a year ago in sympathy with my husband, who wanted to get started.  He dropped it, I continued.  We used a programme called "Couch to 5 K"  - and it is great.  I don't run 5 km even now because I have to run to my time window which is about 4 km, but it got me going.  I can highly recommend C25K as a guideline (I didn't do it exactly as is but it led me faithfully).

This morning's run was good because there was no ice to worry about under my feet and I could look around at the mountains.  I got passed by one of the National XC ski team coaches out with his dog - they took about 20 paces past me then the dog had to water a tree and they were off.  I didn't catch up, even with the dog stopping!  But I FEEL GOOD.

I was always told that there is a certain self-centeredness to runners when they get on topic, now here's me, case in point, and you're wondering what all this has to do with music and creativity.

1) When you are feeling good in your body, all areas of life improve.  Your creative self will find more freedom if you are feeling good.

2) You will sing better when you are fit.  This goes for breath control as well as general sound.  If your instrument is in good shape (that's your body) it will perform better.  I remember an interview with Aretha Franklin where she said she has an ideal singing weight.  She feels better and sounds better at that physical place.  For each of us that is different, but it's an interesting idea.

3) The whole premise behind C25K is that when people decide to start running, they bite off more than is digestable, get discouraged, and give up.  For example - day one - I will run for 5 minutes, then walk for 5 minutes - repeat.  Well, 5 minutes is an incredibly long time to run if you're not in shape or used to it, but you might not comprehend that heading into it.

If you are taking a decision now to tap into your creativity - be it musical, artistic, theatrical, writing, or any other kind of expression - it's OK to start small.  Sing for one minute.  Splash some colour on a piece of paper and look at it.  Really look.  Write down words that you like - you don't have to write the whole novel today.  If you have four lines of a song or poem tumbling in your noggin, write them down.  Cherish them.  Perhaps later the rest of the piece will come and build itself around that.

With all that said, friends, it is easier to walk or run or play outside now that spring is here (ish).  Don't be afraid to start small.  Take care of your body - it is your instrument after all.

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