How is ChiRunning Like Playing the Fiddle?

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View looking uphill and south along the Matt Davis Trail - Marin County, CA

View looking uphill and south along the Matt Davis Trail – Marin County, CA

Funny you should ask that. I was just out running this morning and came up with the answer.

Since I moved here to Western North Carolina almost three years ago, I’ve been learning how to play the fiddle (when in Rome…). I have a great fiddle teacher named Jamie Laval and I highly suggest you check out his website if you’re interested in any form of Celtic or Scottish music. He’s one of the best around.

I’m still very much a beginning fiddle student and so Jamie has me do these great warm-up exercises where I’m learning finger placement. I begin by playing one note at a time with my first finger, and then matching it with an accompanying string so that I get the right pitch. Then I do the same thing with my second finger and so on until a four fingers of my left hand have practiced their respective positions on all four strings. When I can hit a good pitch with all 16 notes I get to move onto playing the songs I’m learning. What this does is get my fingers to always land on the right spot on the finger board so that playing the song is much more fluid and  accurate. I’ve already noticed a huge difference in my playing when I do these warm-up exercises.

So, I was out on my run this morning doing my 1-minute intervals on the trail. It was a one-hour run and I started out the first five minutes pretty easy and then got into alternating one minute of race pace focuses with one minute of easy resting pace. As I progressed through my workout, I noticed that my body was feeling more and more relaxed and the speed intervals were feeling easier and easier. So, I started doing 2-minute race focus intervals with one minute of rest. Throughout my run I gradually increased the length of the fast intervals and kept the resting intervals at one minute. By the end of my run I finished the last ten minutes at race pace feeling very little effort because I’d spent the better part of the run warming up and working on focuses.

My goal is to get to the point where I can run at race pace for an hour without stopping for a rest break. My race is at the end of August, so I don’t see any problem with working my way up to that. And, as you can see, it is absolutely the same thing I’m doing with my fiddle practice. It’s built on the premise that if you do your technique work up front, the rest just falls into place. I meet many people who think that speed comes strictly from strength and I couldn’t disagree more. Speed with running, just like speed with the fiddle, comes with efficiency, accuracy, and most of all relaxation. If you don’t have all three, you’re going to have to work harder to get that speed you’re looking for. It doesn’t matter whether you’re watching Salina Kosgei (the Kenyan woman who won this year’s Boston Marathon) or Itzak Perlman, they’re both doing the same thing underneath it all.


Posted in Technique

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