Went for another run along the Ottawa River this afternoon.  Had the path almost entirely to myself.  Presumably because others were driven indoors by the light drizzle that started about 30 minutes before I headed out.  I thought about going to the gym myself, but provided the rain isn’t coming down too hard I actually kindof like running in the rain.

Cloudy skies shade me from the penetrating beams of the sun.  The slight breeze cools me.  And in my humble opinion, being soaked by rain drops feels way better than being covered in perspiration.  True, watching sunbeams kiss the river on a less cloudy day makes for one of the most stunning views this city has to offer.  Just sayin’ grey days are not without their golden moments.

Despite these favourable conditions, as I wiped rain drops from my face heading up an incline at around minute eight, I hit a wall.  While I haven’t been running much lately, even for me this is early for a wall.

As I contemplated an early walk (was attempting three sets of 10s and 1s), a new track started on my shuffle.  Testify.  Rage Against the Machine.

Within a few bars, I was kicking that wall’s ass.  I actually sped up while cresting over the hill.

Now, given I’m a slow runner to begin with, had there been any other runners out today they still probably would have passed me.  But that’s one of the things I love about running: the only person I’m out to beat is myself.  And with that jump start, v today kicked v yesterday’s ass.

It helped that the tracks following Testify made for one of the best running soundtracks my shuffle has delivered in some time.  With one skip (Everyday.  Buddy Holly.  A cool down song that came on at the wrong time), my ears were treated to:

Through and Through and Through.  Joel Plaskett.

Devil’s Haircut.  Beck.

1st 5 Times (Remix).  Stars.

Superstar.  Lauryn Hill.

As is often the case when I have an inspiring experince with music, this got me thinking about what it is about a certain track that makes it exactly the one I need to hear at a given moment.  Sure, when it comes to running (or any phycially activity), just about any track with a good beat and tempo should be at least a little bit motivating.  But my running shuffle is full of such tracks, and not all of them have same potential to impact me the way Testify did.

A couple of weekends ago I got as close as I will probably ever get to seeing Rage Against the Machine in concert when I watched Tom Morello play the Ottawa Folk Fest.  It was, in a word, amazing.  As he strummed the first chord on his guitar, the crowd went nuts.  Well, as nuts as an Ottawa crowd ever really goes (I could write a thesis on the complacency I’ve observed in this town overrun with public servants, myself included).  As I left the show I remember thinking to myself that while I will certainly enjoy other concernts in the future, I may never again feel the same level of awe as I did watching Tom Morello’s fingers dance accross the strings of his blue electric guitar.

Could it be that this track had the impact on me that it did not just because it’s a good running song in general, but also because it features a guitarrist I so recently had an bucket-list live music experience with?  That hearing this track put me in touch with the kind of positive emotions I needed to help me break through that wall?  And by extention, did the happy high school memories I started thinking about when Devil’s Haircut came on play as big a role in motivating me to run just a bit harder today as the perfect rainy weather did?

It’s possible I’m the only one who stays up late thinking about these kind of things.  If not, and you have any thoughts (or track suggestions), I’d love some feedback.  And, if you get where I’m coming from with my “music as motivating not just for its sound but also the emotional roadmap it leads you down” theory, would love to hear the story associated with some of your favourite running / walking / unicyling / etc. tunes.

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