Friday, May 29, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
We really got lucky with our Memorial Day weekend. The weather report predicted rain but we had tons of glorious sun and I have the burns to prove it!
Here's a pic of me playing the ECPAT Run for Children's Rights on Roosevelt Island. The event went really well and raised thousands of dollars for a really great cause. I played a set along with the talented a cappella group, Vocal Heights.
Also I started uploading my songs to myxer as I have been uploading them to this blog. This is a way you get my songs for free on your phone before they are released on iTunes.
To number 69937
(to get the song "If You Had a Life to Kill")
(to get "To Be Alone")
(to get "Engineering Masterpiece")
Myxer will then text you the song and you can save it or make it your ring tone through your phone's options.
Or you can do it online using this widget:
I am bucking the order that I wrote the songs in order to bring you "Engineering Masterpiece" as song #3. Last week I posted a Youtube video that featured it so now I am eager to get this song out.
Basically, the first two songs were working up to the benchmark pace of 180 beats per minute (b.p.m.) This is the typical steps per minute of most experienced runners regardless of size, gender or pace. I write about stride rate at more length in this blog.
"Engineering Masterpiece" is about speed. It is about summoning up that last ounce of strength in order to get across the finish line. It is about how the body is designed to run and if you can tap into that efficiently you can find your second (or third or forth... ) wind.
My Exercise Recommendation:
When testing these songs out I always had "Engineering Masterpiece" as song #6 because it is the last one in the sequence. Usually by the time I got to the song I had already run a few hills and had several more miles to go so I wasn't really inspired to start sprinting. This made the song lose some of the impact it had when I first wrote it. I found that if I reserved it only for speed interval training it not only helped mark out my effort but it also trained me mentally to think fast when I thought of the song. Once you've run fast with a song enough times it can help you get into that mindset when you hear it any time or even when you are just thinking about it. For example at the end of a race when the finish line is in sight you just need to think of the song and your body will re-enact the feeling of the speed interval. In order for it to work you need to make sure you had multiple successful work outs with your speed interval song.
Speed Interval Work Out* using "Engineering Masterpiece":
10 min Warm-up. Easy Pace listening to whatever gets you into the mood to run.
3 min 18 sec - the length of Engineering Masterpiece - Speed Interval. Try to maintain the 180 steps per minute pace through out the entire interval. Start the song running at a moderately hard to hard intensity (6 or 7 out of 10 of your rate of perceived exertion.) Then every time the chorus starts "Blood and Muscle, Flesh and Sweat..." crank up your intensity a little bit while maintaining your stride rate until the next chorus. When you get to "Wheels spin, Wheels spin" you should be running your hardest until the end.
3 min - Recovery Interval - I usually listen to the song "Why I Run" which hasn't been debuted on this blog yet. You want something that will keep the beat consistent so you don't lose the energy you just generated but will lower the intensity dramatically so you can regain your breath and rest while running much slower (or walking if necessary.)
Repeat this sequence of speed and recovery intervals at least 3 or 4 times. Ideally you want to be able to be as strong in the last interval as the first so you may need to conserve a little the first couple of times.
10 min Cool Down
Using the song lengths to measure intervals is useful when you don't have access to a track to measure distances. If you prefer to run distance intervals the song can still help measure your time by noting which point you cut the song off at. You can race to finish at an earlier point in the song every time. When I tested this song using distances I ran the entire length of the song on the last interval only to have an extra challenge at the end.
* I recommend this work out only for tread mills or paths (like tracks) that are intended for runners. It is not recommended to do speed intervals with head phones when there is other traffic competing for your attention. Go somewhere you can focus. Safety first!
One last thing to listen for:
This is the song that I incorporate the Baglama. It is a small Greek folk instrument that troubadours would play and then hide in their cloaks when they saw police coming. Hurray for renegade art, I love it. Chris brought it back as a present after a recent trip to Greece. He knew I would appreciate it way more than jewelry or a plastic parthenon.
The song "Engineering Masterpiece" is not live on iTunes or other online sites yet. If you would like the mp3 please write to:
Thursday, May 21, 2009
This Saturday, May 23rd I will be playing on Roosevelt Island as part of the Run for Children's Rights.
The Run for Children's Rights is an event sponsored by ECPAT- End Child Prostitution and Trafficking. It is an event to help fundraise for the organization and help raise awareness of the disturbing trend of child exploitation in the forms of prostitution, pornography, sex tourism and trafficking by Americans in Asian countries. It is a worthy cause that would be hard to disagree with. Even if you can't make the event please consider making a donation:
It should be a fun event with a 5K race, music and raffles. I will be taking the stage before the race to get the runners charged up.
For more info about ECPAT and the event go here:
Also this week I opened a store front on Spread Shirt so you can now get a "Running Rocks - Lady Southpaw" t-shirt.
I made some of them to be good for running so they are a bit pricier but high quality. I took very little commission because I want people to wear them ;) There are a range of shirts including some cotton ones with an original logo I made to cut the cost. I think they're cool (but then I'm like their mother.)
Friday, May 15, 2009
Today I am posting the second in my series of running songs. It is called "To Be Alone." The tempo is 170 b.p.m. (beats per minutes) which is 10 b.p.m. faster than the first song "If You Had a Life to Kill." Yet, on first impression it may feel slower. This is because the melody is in half time but the beats themselves are still quite fast.
Every moment of every run is not about pushing the speed. Anyone who has done long distance running like marathon training knows that there are long periods where you are just sustaining and you are almost relaxed while running. This is when running is like meditation in motion. It is a time to focus on breathing, being in the moment and letting all the usual everyday garbage that clutters the mind drain away for awhile. Running can also be a solitary experience. It is a good time to face your demons and make peace with yourself. "To Be Alone" is about this type of running experience.
Fun thing to listen for:
In my rough version I had some choral sounding backup vocals. I felt they were too much for the whole song but I ended up keeping them faintly in the background toward the end of the song. They have some effects on them which makes them harder to recognize.
Some plugs for today:
Thanks to Kelly F. from "Races in Places" for featuring me in yesterday's blog!
I booked another race gig! It is the Run for Children's Rights 5K on May 23rd. More details on that to come...
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
One of my goals as Lady Southpaw is to play at racing events. Anyone who has ever been to the big Marathon here in New York knows that there are musicians all along the race route. One day soon I would like to be one of those musicians! Another growing phenomenon in marathon racing is the "Rock 'n' Roll" marathon (or country music, insert your genre here.) They can be found in San Diego, San Jose, Seattle, and Arizona to name a few.
So in this spirit I'm excited to announce this weekend I will be playing at the 11th Annual HOHA Classic 5 Mile Race. The people of the Hoboken Harriers were kind enough to let me take some of my songs for spin and debut my race rock act.
Proceeds from the race, which winds along the Hoboken waterfront and through the campus of Stevens Institute of Technology, will benefit the Jubilee Family Life Center, a non-denominational community center in Hoboken that provides job training and after school youth programs.
Please stop by if your in the Hoboken area this weekend. If all goes well there will be more races to come!
Sunday May 17th
Pier A Park
Hoboken, NJ 07030
Race info on:
Friday, May 8, 2009
Today I am streaming the first of my 6 Songs for Running on my website. You can play it with the widget in the left column. It is called:
"If You Had a Life to Kill"
The tempo for most of the songs for running is 180 beats per minute (b.p.m.) to reflect the ideal of 180 steps per minute in your running stride. However, the first three songs of the 6 are intended as a warm-up for this cadence in case you are not used to that fast of a tempo. "If You Had a Life to Kill" is 160 b.p.m. So if you were to count the strides of your left foot in one minute of running it would be 80 strides. This is actually the tempo I was running at when I first started counting my steps.
One fun thing to listen for:
A couple months ago I was lucky enough borrow an accordion from my boyfriend's Italian grandmother. They are from the northern mountains of Italy very near Austria. It's so cool. It makes an appearance in the background of "If You had a Life to Kill" about halfway through (at the second chorus.)
If you are interested in trying this song out for a run it is not yet available for sale but in the meantime you can write me at:
Also I got some new pictures taken by: http://www.cerysphoto.com/
Misha, the photographer, was great I would highly recommend her.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
I have been doing very unscientific counts of runners with head phones at the gym and in my neighborhood parks and I would say just over half to two thirds are sporting headphones. Some may be listening to podcasts and books on tape but the majority are pumping their favorite running tunes. Recently I've become a fan of the Nike + sensor for the ipod. It's a great way to track pace and distance with your ipod (I'm including the image of my "Mini"). There is a revolution of the personal soundtrack going on with so much independent music flooding the culture and so many accessible ways to listen to it. Running is part of this phenomenon.
Listening to music is a great way to add a little extra pleasure to your run. Running is meditative and invigorating. It is a time to be out and actively communing with your body, mental fortitude and imagination. Your blood is pumping, your breath is deep and the sweat is exhilarating. You are alive. The music is your soundscape. You are the hero of your own story. So it is inspiring when the music intertwines artfully with the experience. There is the beat of your feet of course, but there is also your breathing, your heart beat, your arms and a million other tiny muscles and bones keeping you balanced and moving you forward with their own rhythms.
I believe that music that coordinates all of these things could help lead a runner to a smoother, more efficient performance and enlightening experience. Of course the speed and the endurance of the athlete is up to that runner's experience, conditioning, genetics and a million other factors. Still, focus, patience, and discipline will aid any runner in attaining a higher level of his or her individual potential. That is what the music I write is intended for.
- Each song follows the last without dropping the beat.
- There is a basic beat to give the runner something easy to hold onto but there are other complementing rhythms to keep things loose and interesting.
- Along with the rhythmic element there are flowing melodies and harmonies to remind the runner to keep things light and smooth.
- There are easy choruses that can be repeated like a chant in your mind when you're running without the headphones.
By the way, I do not recommend wearing noise-canceling head phones while running unless you are on the treadmill. If you are running outside with cars, cyclists and other runners competing for space please keep these in mind:
- Keep the music low enough that you can still hear what is going on around you!
- Check in with the sound of your feet against the ground to make sure you are not stomping to the beat.
- Instead of sounding the beat with your feet imagine you are tapping it with your elbows behind you that will create the same effect of running to the rhythm.
If you can not stay with the exact rhythm don't worry, just run to the spirit of the music. Some songs are about pushing the speed but others are more about finding ease in the exertion and enjoying the ride. Still others are about wrestling with the difficulty and getting over a difficult hill. All are a metaphor for life. I hope to keep writing more.
Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a free song and give me some feedback.
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