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Friday, November 12, 2010

Red Bandana: Do Not Run and Play Air Guitar & "Run to Overcome" by Marathoner Meb Keflezighi Reviewed

Do not, under any circumstances, play air guitar while running on a treadmill. You may sing, you may shout, but leave your air guitar skills for karaoke time at your Aunt Suzi's wedding.

For example, you rockers out there have no business trying to see if you can effective pretend to play "Freebird" by Lynyrd Skynyrd. And if I see any of you pointing your invisible electric guitar to the ceiling while moaning, "'Scuze me while I kiss the sky," ala Jimi Hendrix, I will, without hesitation, report you to the treadmill police. It is for your own good.


Just the other night, rocking out during a five mile run, working through a great selection of music for the evening. The Hollies, The Who, The Romantics, Wild Cherry, Kool & the Gang. Each song was crammed with testosterone, each more high energy than the previous. I was revved up. My gait and cadence were good. I started feeling like a real runner.

But then -- I started to sing. That's OK. This is my basement, not Chicago's L Train. That I cannot sing is not material. In fact, it is good training. New Zealand's famous coach, Arthur Lydiard, used to say one test for running a good aerobic pace is if the runner can talk. Singing is like talking, isn't it? Only moreso.

So I belted out a few tunes. My neighbors knew that "everyone was kung fu fighting" and "Those cats were fast as lightning." They now know, "What I like about you." And they did not need to hear that I was, "Dancing with myself," to know that, in fact, I was.

But then my playlist came to Bachman-Turner Overdrive. You oldies will know them simply as BTO. I'm a product of the 1970s. What could I do? When "Takin' Care of Business" hit my stereo, I was strumming and picking away. I did not limit my air musicianship to guitar. Piano too. There is a bit of boogie-woogie piano in there, and I don't think I missed a note.

Sometimes, I played both instruments at once. Piano on left, guitar on right.

You know the song. It begins:

"You get up every morning
From your 'larm clock's warning
Take the 8:15 into the city
There's a whistle up above
And people pushin', people shovin'"

Trouble was, I was running. Remember? Five miles. On a treadmill. I was strutting more than running (think Chuck Berry meets Mick Jagger meets Peewee Herman), switching between my piano and guitar duties, ripping out the lyrics like they mattered. I slipped and did a George Jetson.

I'm exaggerating some. It was a good run, I did sing to most of the songs. And I did play a little air guitar. Who wouldn't? However, I really did catch myself slipping not paying attention to the task at hand. I wasn't hurt. I might have been.

Pay attention while running. That is the entire point of this column today. Have a great time and feel even better as you do it, but never forget that hitting the wall behind you, or twisting an ankle is a bad idea. Be careful out there (and in your basement).

The Complete Running Playlist
1) Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress), The Hollies
2) Happy Jack, The Who
3) What I Like About You, The Romantics
4) Play That Funky Music, Wild Cherry
5) Turning Japanese, Vapors
6) Takin' Care of Business, Bachman-Turner Overdrive
7) Celebration, Kool and The Gang
8) Kung Fu Fighting, Carl Douglas
9) Pinball Wizard, The Who
10) You Really Got Me, The Kinks
11) Feels Like The First Time, Foreigner
12) She's The One, Bruce Springsteen
13) Communication Breakdown, Led Zeppelin
14) Dancing With Myself, Billy Idol

Run to Overcome: Inspirational Story About Marathoner Meb Keflezighi

Meb humbly relates his life in this readable autobiography. He takes us through his childhood in Eritrea, a country not quite twice the population of Chicago. He describes facing soldiers and war, and how he saw death as a young boy. Through college at UCLA as well as his early career as a runner, we learn the life of an elite running is often difficult.

His beloved friend and fellow runner Ryan Shay dies while racing. Eritrean friends are murdered just before he visits them. A grocery store he owned with his family was robbed by armed thieves. His racing doesn't go well, and his income drops. His faith grew just the same.

He perseveres, and draws the reader into a world of running and and international culture.

Overall, "Run to Overcome" is honest and inspiring.
(full review on my website)

Writer Anthony Trendl loves BBQs, folk music and porches. He looks to running as he battles midlife and his mid-section. Find out more:

For more about my running adventures, see A Runner’s Dilemma (workout details, videos and more):

The Red Bandana: Finding Fitness Through the Joy of Running

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