Many of my friends (okay, namely the Highlands Hashers) ask me how my running effects my “professional” life. I’ve always found this to be a difficult question, short of giving the usual stock answers: lowers stress, keeps me fit, etc etc. Now these are NOT the reasons I run, the reasons I run will likely be documented in a following post, but I can assure you that fitness/stress are not what gets me out of bed at 6am to hit the trails…. This past week however, with the start of the school year, comes the usual ring of academic-related auditions, mostly for seating/ensemble placement within the department. Anyone who races has an idea of the stress level associated with auditions, however, the engagement of the fight/flight mechanism is (in my experience) advantageous for a footrace. Unfortunately, as a clarinetist, the fight/flight mechanism is extremely disadvantageous for a performance, increased heart-rate, adrenaline, sweat, none of this bodes well for musical performance.
How has high mileage helped this? Well, as a result of my weekly mileage, and the ensuing fitness level, my resting heart rate is low, I refuse to check it, since I don’t really dig the whole numbers thing, especially regarding heart rate, VO2 max etc etc, but trust me, its low. This means that when my flight mechanism does kick in during the audition setting, the ensuing heart-rate increase begins from a much lower level, resulting in a stressed heart-rate being substantially lower than I can recall ever having in that situation! Not to mention the additional confidence from knowing what you’re really made of. Having run a self-supported ultra-marathon, hiked solo through the Whites and Mahoosucs, grown a massive beard, and lost my fair share of auditions where more than pride is on the line, I’m able to approach the audition in a much calmer fashion than I would have as recently as a year ago, nevermind 6 years ago.
The (relative) success of last weeks 2 auditions, and how I think my running has affected my energy levels throughout these has motivated me to run, and practice more. I’m now more thoroughly looking forward to upcoming races (50k’s 50 milers and a ?hundred?) recitals, and whatever else life throws my way!