So just to clarify here, I'm just NOT one of those people who can run without music. Who the heck are those people and how do they do it?? I had my headphones burn out on me once - 5 minutes into a 15k race, no less - and I survived. I get the notion of hearing your breath and connecting more with what you're surrounded by. But having more runs than not occur inside a smelly, damp and ill-lit gym, requires me to put my focus toward something other than the beauty of my surroundings.
This is where I imagine I'm running.
I'm challenging myself to run quite a bit these days. Definitely more, in terms of mileage as well as frequency, than I have in the past. In doing so I already feel the need to find a motive - something other than "run more". So I've decided to try to really connect with the music I listen to while running. To use my run as not only a platform on which to burn calories, kill time and zap stress, but to give my mind and soul a work-out at the same time.
What I realized this morning is that a lot of times, I am, in my imagination, running WITH the artist in my earbuds. And MOST of the time, it's a woman. Without even knowing it (unless Beyonce was in my Polish gym yesterday and saw me mouthing "Let me upgrade you") this gal is by my side, in my ear, literally, and encouraging me to keep at it.
This brings me to the bulk of today's post. Don't let the title up above fool you. I'm not talking about straining through a jog while Aunt Flo is in town (potential dudes reading this, that's a period joke). Instead, I'm talking about my run with Florence Welch of Florence and The Machine.
Let me begin by saying this. I don't know a lot about her - other than she's British and has the most fabulous red hair I've ever seen. Her music is dark and ominous, though she doesn't come off as a depressed or bound person. I read an article about her in Rolling Stone last year that lead me to believe she doesn't put up with a lot of shit. That she's a real woman. In my mind she is older than me and for sure, a bit wiser. But in reality she's only 25. That alone inspires me. Here is this person who reaches the masses, sending messages of hope, strength and passion - and she's 3 years younger than me. Incredible.
Do you even have to hear her voice to know this woman kills it?!
Here was the second track I ran to today. Came on about 4 and a half minutes into my jog. I'll spare you the lyrics of the entire song and instead share what really stood out.
Shake it out
Regrets collect like old friends
Here to relive your darkest moments
I can see no way, I can see no way
And all of the ghouls come out to play
And every demon wants his pound of flesh
But I like to keep some things to myself
I like to keep my issues drawn
It's always darkest before the dawn
The first thought I had upon hearing these words was that every single person on the planet can connect with this idea of struggling with the past. I'm not even talking about the notion of reliving specific, tragic experiences but rather, the daily battle of letting your history influence your present. How can we keep from letting the bad times, the regretful moments, alter our daily life? I heard this and though about how hard it is sometimes to keep from feeling a tad resentful towards Michael for "taking me from my home". It's like this dark little secret that creeps up from time to time. I fight with it. I convince myself that I'm being ridiculous and usually, the feeling fades. But somedays, as Flo continues to sing, all I can do to get through it is to,
Shake it out shake it out
Shake it out shake it out
And it's hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, oh woah
Another memorable track I felt the need to write about...
Never Let Me Go
And the arms of the ocean are carrying me
And all this devotion was rushing out of me
And the crashes are heaven, for a sinner like me
The arms of the ocean deliver me
What in the baptism of a song?? Wow. This song nearly moved me to tears on the treadmill. I imagined sprinting through the sand on some warm, familiar beach, and diving full force into the waves. I could feel the calm that would come from being washed clean. Like hitting restart on a game you've been struggling through. In a way, this is every summer for me. For us. Somewhere we find a beach. We sink into the waves. We are refreshed in the most simplistic, beautiful way.
And the last track that I absolutely must reference...
Between Two Lungs
The air has filled me head to toe
And I can see the ground far below
I have this breath and I hold it tight
And I keep it in my chest with all my might
I pray to God this breath will last
As it pushes past my lips
Ahhhh! To me, the most powerful song, by far. Mid sprint, I literally grabbed at my chest as if I was holding my heart in place. Think of it what you will. For me, I ran with this strange feeling of truth - like I was floating high above those not in the know. Like I am in on something so powerful and I need to share it.
Wow. Deep stuff.
The funny thing about lyrics is that everyone will have, as they should, their own interpretation. What I take the words to mean might be different than how you hear things, or potentially the complete opposite of what the artist intended. But that's the wonderful thing about music - finding what it means to you. And as far as this little runner is concerned, finding how it lightens your load on a 5 mile trek.