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01. "The Running Pianist: An Introduction"

Updated: Mar 12, 2020

How are running and piano playing connected? Let me tell you.

I am a pianist and I am a runner. The two are not interchangeable, but they aren't independent of each other either, at least in my life. I am both and they are each central to my identity. It has taken me many years of exploring and experiencing the relationship of these two components of my life to come to an understanding as to how each of these roles balance in my broader personality and place in the world.

Photo: Kourtney Derouin Photography

Practicing and performing as a professional pianist is much more physically demanding than many people realize, while long-distance running is obviously active, but much more mentally exhausting than it might seem. When you mash these two pursuits into the same lifestyle, it can be a mess if it's not approached in a sensible, balanced way.

They can totally drain the energy from each other, leaving the person in the middle not thriving in any of it. This can be avoided, even if it takes over a decade of trail-and-error! On the flip-side, these two activities can have a remarkable and unique influence on each other, as they share many similarities and parallels which can be transferred between them. There is, of course, a human who is doing the running and music-making - a human with a life and existence around these activities. It's all integrated into one package and it is possible for it all to exist in a nurturing and strengthening way.

What is "The Running Pianist?"

This project is a series of writings which is my attempt to explain and share the connections, benefits, and challenges which exist when an active lifestyle is mixed with that of a professional musician. Those who know me well might be surprised that I am writing a blog. I'm not one to use many words unnecessarily and this case is no different - in a somewhat selfish way, these are ideas which I feel I need to write and develop. I figured if the process will help me, perhaps it will help someone else who will chance to read it.

How it will unfold

Québec City Marathon, 2015.

To be clear, I am a professional pianist and an amateur life-long runner. This means that my approach will inevitably skew more towards the music side of things, but my focus throughout "The Running Pianist" is about the balancing of these two pursuits. Many of my experiences and lessons learned can easily be applied to the balancing of any two apparently disparate passions in your life.

As a runner I am by no means a speedster (I will not be setting any national or world records), but I'm certainly at least middle of the pack and as I have recently found ways to balance running in a sustainable way in my life, I am able to gradually become stronger and slightly faster while running longer distances. In the end, for me it's about living a healthy, balanced lifestyle, with the central activities in my life informing, encouraging, and complementing each other rather than getting in the other's way.

What to expect in future posts

I will do my best to strike a balance between informative, well-researched concepts and accessible easy-reading. Some posts will be purely musical while others will be just about running, but the majority of what I will be exploring involves the connections between both and their co-existence. I will explore ideas relating to lifestyle, physical & mental training, nutrition, sleep, and health of all sorts. Sometimes I will have advice or tips and other times I will simply be reflecting and sharing an experience. A few topics of posts that are in the works are:

  • Music & Running: The Connection

  • The Role of the Teacher/Mentor

  • Nutrition: Feeding Body and Mind

  • Trusting the Process

  • Sustainability/Balance/Expectations

  • Burn-Out: Avoiding It

  • Race Day/Performance Day

  • Metronome vs. Running Watch

  • The Running Composer

I will publish posts on individual concepts and if I feel there's more to say, or new developments arise, I will continue with multiple parts of some topics. Each concept that I've been exploring has led me to other ideas and experiences and I will keep following those trains until they've exhausted themselves. I won't grasp for ideas or stretch things out too thinly simply to have something to write - when I've said what I need to say, I will simply stop writing and end this project. That time is a long time away though, there's lots to write!

So, whether you are a runner who enjoys any kind of music, a musician who is looking to implement a more active lifestyle, or simply someone who has an interest in either music performance or running, I hope this project is enlightening, encouraging, and a source of inspiration in your pursuits.

If you have any comments or ideas for future topics, please write below - I'm always up for suggestions! You can also subscribe to The Running Pianist Newsletter with your email here, and check me out on Instagram here.

Coming Up Next: 02. "Music & Running: The Connections"

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