By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training Center, Tucson, Arizona
November 5, 2015
There has always been a strange little connection between me and music. I was never really interested in the concept of music when I was growing up, for I always thought I would succeed in sports or writing. Well, I succeeded in neither, and sometimes I wish I had taken up those piano lessons my parents offered me back when I was a teenager. But then again, who is to say I would be in the same situation in regards to music? Either way, I have pretty much built up a rather impressive list of music that is massive and weird at the same time. I have unusual bands that broke up way before their time (like Schoolyard Heroes, Wolfmother and The Verve) while also listening to groups that have inexplicable long careers and makes me wonder, who are their fans? (like Hearts and The Decembrists). But what can I say, people are weird and flighty and that’s why most bands break up in the first place. I think that is why there is this current revolution of two-piece groups hitting the rock scene. It’s easier to get a couple of like minded people together to make some music rather than trying to put a four or five piece group of musicians with different ideas together. Due to the hyper individualization in this world, people think their voice is bigger and better than what it actually is. I think that is why it is rare to see bands like Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters and My Morning Jacket who have been around for 20 years but still keep on going. People just don’t like to get along anymore unless they have utter control of the situation.
Anyway, I have a pretty large collection of music, so much so that a couple friends of mine from San Francisco even like my unusual assortment. I know them as Yadira and Joe, but on their radio show called “Cheap Hooch” they are known as Holly Hooch and Joey Von Frankenstein. Anyway, I gave them a CD once and the week after they got home, they played a bunch of my music on their show, including one of my favs called “Wasted Days” from Cloud Nothings (they described it like this…we couldn’t believe it was nine minutes long!). So this inspired me to make up a whole bunch of playlists for them and sent it on over. What happened was a pretty decent show of music that was fun, and I even got my own DJ name, Buddy Sharp! It was kind of interesting though, to hear the selection of songs they put together, from a folksy tune about drug trips from Monsters of Folk called “Man Called Truth” https://youtu.be/HL-C0dAkMMQ to a weird chill wave song about trying to get a woman out of your head called “Fallout” by Neon Indian. https://youtu.be/fGHEsPdvcVI Of course, since their show focused primarily on garage rock and such, they had lot of the grungy, grimy songs I expected them to put on the show like Bloc Party’s “We Are Not Good People” https://youtu.be/hFvHZ27yd_0 and The Turbo Fruits’ song “Mama’s Mad Cos I Fried My Brain.” https://youtu.be/g2XCSQpq8io I can only imagine how tough it is to put a theme together for each week, for I would definitely run out of ideas after a while and start regurgitating all of the same bands I love and listen to. This is definitely the challenge a person starts running into when you need music to keep your running in check. Check out their show if you don’t mind garage rock and cussing. http://www.radiovalencia.fm/podcasts/?show=cheap%20hooch%20radio
A couple years back, I messed up my headphones at Ragnar Del Sol and had to run my longest leg with out any music. It was the most bizarre experience ever, for I was running in the dead of night and maybe saw five other runners during my 6.86-mile leg. It was worse when I ran on some wilderness back roads, where it was completely dark and shadowy and I could not see anything except for the patch of light my head lamp was projecting. It was strange so to speak, for when you live in a bustling city, not being exposed to pure darkness is a little unsettling. I kept thinking to myself whether I was lost or not. I was expecting some deranged killer to climb out of the woodwork and take my legs out or something. It was that much of a mind job! I was much smarter the next year, for I brought an extra pair of headphones, but I also notice the houses along the same leg had all gotten back porch lights and motion sensor lighting, which took away some of the majesty of that particular leg. It was not as cool as it was the previous year, but damn, it was still difficult!! I owe a lot of my fitness to music, not just my running. For those that have read this blog since the beginning, I really despise country music. So much so that if I failed at something back in the early days, Jon would whip out some horrible country music and it would fill the gym with terrible crooning and steel string guitars. Fortunately, I wasn’t the only one that hated that, and it became something of a banned paradigm within the confines of the gym (though many of the young women that workout there are always demanding Taylor Swift and Katy Perry….ugh!). I will admit, my selection has not always been good, for I pissed off some people by playing such bad music as “All You Can Eat” https://youtu.be/drGeLouMm6s from the Fat Boys and an entire playlist of Mega Man music from the 8-bit Nintendo days.
Since this will be my first time ever in Las Vegas, I figured a good playlist for the occasion would be a nice sentiment. Now here is the problem for me….how the heck do you really make one? First of all, it is a complicated process for me, because I always like to put together themes and what not to help me choose the kind of music that would appeal to me. One time I put a playlist together that had the word “run” in all of the songs, which turned into a difficult hodge lodge mess to figure out. I also made a playlist that only had female vocalists and a playlist that had no vocals period. Nowadays, it has to be a random collection of music, because I have completely run out of ideas and have heard just about every variation I need to hear. Sometimes it takes some freaking inspiration!!! Take for example last week when I went on the second run. The first run was quite the rousing success, for I completely owned a nine-mile run that I only prepared for in my mind, not body. So the real challenge came when I went for it again two days later. I had planned out a seven mile run along the Santa Cruz riverwalk once again, and I didn’t seem to have too much issue with potentially flaming out. If anything, this run was just meant to be a mental run, one where I test my resolve and test my ability to run slower if my body starts hitting a wall. So here I was running, judging along at a 10+ minute per mile pace and feeling fine. I didn’t have a play list going or anything, for my iTunes shuffle was giving me all sorts of strange selections. But things started shifting for the worst when I hit the 3.5-mile mark. I was dying, my legs were starting to give way and I had no energy. Then the strangest of all running songs came on, Glasvegas’ “It’s My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry.” It’s a sad story, for a guy is so jealous and suspicious of all women that he can’t even have a normal relationship. But the vocals and the build-up provided some energy, for the song was then followed by Silvers Pickups’ song “The Royal We.” I haven’t really listened to this band in a while, considering their last album was pretty bad (though the new album sounds decent). It was as if iTunes was telling me to get my ass moving, and these two songs started pushing me as I started singing them to myself, even though I was tired after running nearly four miles. Then came “Pattern Walks” by Cloud Nothings and “A More Perfect Union” by Titus Andronicus. Now, Titus Andronicus is not really the kind of band that would make workout friendly music, but their album “The Monitor” is still on of the blistering concept albums ever made. Listening to that song evoked memories of the day me and my friend Tim watched them in Phoenix is some hole in the wall called The Trunk Space, crammed into a hot and sweaty room while boasting the fact we were easily the oldest guys in this place (it was a no alcohol venue). At one point, I got really tired during that show, but the 14-minute epic that was “The Battle of Hampton Roads” https://youtu.be/JEIceHIxvtI really energized me. So I remembered the feeling from that night and started pumping faster. Then came Bloc Party’s “Uniform,” a song that really speaks to me due to the anti-commercialism vibe the song evokes. That’s nearly 30 minutes of music, which pushed me over the six-mile threshold I was hoping to reach. And here is the craziest part of that journey…I turned my 10-minute plus pace into an eventual 9:50 pace over the course of 7.45 miles. So while I should have been slowing down and losing steam, I picked up the pace and owned it on my difficult home course.
About Our Blog
Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.
This blog is also at: