Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Free Therapy

The holidays are wonderful.  They can also be extremely stressful.  I feel like I get about a day to digest after Thanksgiving and then "it's on".  While I love every part of this festive season, I often start to unravel very quickly due to all the chaos.  My kids, in particular, start to sense the excitement as the countdown to Christmas begins.  Bedtime starts to extend into the later hours of the evening until it's virtually impossible to get them to sleep without bribing them.  Then there are the gifts and the ever present need to be creative.  Last year, the only thing my four year old wanted from Santa was a rainbow.  That was a little tricky.  There are also the family logistics to figure out.  While it's important to make it work, getting to see everyone around the holidays can be difficult.  Basically, there are times when it gets so overwhelming I could use a little therapy in some way, shape or form. For me, and so many others, this is when a run is such an incredible tool.  It's amazing how helpful it can be to hit the road with a friend to discuss or not discuss how to make it all happen while maintaining holiday cheer.  On the other hand, after leaving Target having broken out in a sweat in the toy aisle, going out for a solo run can be an effective way to calm the nerves and drown out some of the noise.  In either  case, the miles often tend to fly by and the problems start to seem a bit smaller.  In this case, the mental release is the focus and the exercise element is just an afterthought.  The Doctor is in.

Listen to this:
The King And All of His Men - Wolf Gang   The King and All of His Men - The King and All of His Men - Single

Monday, November 28, 2011

Just For Fun

Last Thursday morning, my husband and I drove over to Oak Bluffs, a town on Martha's Vineyard, for their annual Thanksgiving day 'fun run'.  We showed up and for a moment thought maybe it wasn't happening, but then we saw a handful of people heading into the local police station.  It was windy and a little chilly, and we quickly realized why no one wanted to stand around outside.  We signed the forms and headed inside to get our numbers.  The woman at the table handed them over in addition to the ribbons we (along with all the other runners) would be receiving at the end of the race.  She told us she had decided to reward us with them ahead of time so she could avoid standing out in the cold all morning.  Made sense.  At first, it was looking like maybe only twenty of us were going to run, but slowly, several other groups began to trickle in.  I heard someone ask, "is there a clock for this race?" to which the race organizer answered, "there is if you are wearing a watch."  That got a lot of laughs.  It was getting close to the start and everyone started to gather.  The organizer stood in front of us, smiling and very excited.  He mentioned that this race, which started not many years ago, helps to raise money for the elderly in need who live on the island.  He said that we were just out there to "have fun" and there would be no official clock, that it wasn't an official course, there were no mile markers, and that there were no prizes at the end.  He did let us know that we could all join him for a swim in the ocean after the race if we were interested.  As someone who races often, part of me was wondering what the he-- I was doing there when I could have run 3.1 miles in my own neighborhood.  But that wasn't the point.  I looked around in awe as I realized that 250 of us, a record number of participants, came out to support this great cause and there was absolutely nothing in it for any of us other than some exercise and a good time.  "It's a fun run, people" he said, "and that's all we're out here to do."  That was the point.

Listen to this:
Dropped - Phantom Planet   Dropped - Raise the Dead (Bonus Track Version)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Gem

It's late November and I'm with my family on an island in MA.  Typical weather for this time of year here is cold, windy and bitter.  I step outside this morning to go get a cup of coffee and the sun is beaming down on my face.  The temperature gauge in my car says 50 degrees.  What?  I walk toward the coffee shop and see a guy sitting outside on a bench with his dog wearing a huge grin.  "Flip flops?" I ask, because this might be pushing it a little.  He laughs, "on a day like today, I have no choice.  This might be my last chance."  I wasn't planning on running today but how can I possibly resist?  It's just too good to be true.  By the time I hit the road it's at least 10 degrees warmer and I'm sporting shorts and a t-shirt.  I am giddy.  I gotta believe no matter what kind of runner you happen to be, or even if you're not one, on a day like today, if you choose to go out, you're going to rock it.  A day like this is so rare and such a treat.  Or, as my brother-in-law said today, "it is a gem".  Enjoy!

Listen to this:
Sleigh Bells - Treats (the album)  Treats - Sleigh Bells
(Note: since I missed Reader's Pick yesterday, I'm posting an entire album by a band that a friend of mine recently told me he loves.  There's not a song on this one that isn't perfect for running.  Thanks Craig.)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Share the Love

Every year my immediate family comes together for the Thanksgiving holiday.  We get to see each other quite a bit in the summer, but then we go long gaps without visiting and rely heavily on the phone and email.  We arrived at my parents house yesterday amid the typical chaos: several hugs and kisses,  kids running around and screaming within minutes, and unpacking the car to dig out items that we'd brought for birthdays that had passed since summer.  When the dust finally started to settle my sister looked at me and said, "I have some great new running songs for you".  I smiled.  Courtney and I do not have a lot in common.  She's four years older than me and that age difference often made it tricky for us to relate to each other when we were growing up.  Today, yoga is her passion and she loathes running.  For me yoga is ridiculously hard and I love to run.  She's an amazing cook and I couldn't do it if my life depended on it.  She's very fashion forward while I shop at the gap and my favorite purchase is a nice pair of sneakers or a cool t-shirt.  But the one thing we do share is a love for music.  I will often get a text from her that says, "Listen to this song. It will blow you away" or "Go buy this album immediately."  Often one of us will get so fired up about an artist that it warrants stopping everything and making a phone call to discuss.  I can always get her to come see live music with me if I give her enough time to figure out the logistics to get to Boston.  What we love the most, though, is just sitting down after dinner with a glass of wine and trading new songs and bands, talking about them, breaking them down, and often, purchasing them on iTunes, which can get a bit dangerous if the night goes on too late.   There have been years in the past where we've had trouble connecting due to our differences but our passion for music has always remained constant and lately has grown into something that we both really value.  I realize how lucky we are to have this one thing that we like to share with each other.  We are close in other ways, but mostly, we are grounded with this love of music and without it, our relationship might be totally different and not nearly as fun.

Listen to this:
They Done Wrong : We Done Wrong - White Rabbits   They Done Wrong : We Done Wrong - It's Frightening

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The "Turkey Trot"

Thanksgiving is a mere 2 days away.  Whether you celebrate this holiday or not, there is a 5K race in almost every city across the country on Thanksgiving day or over the holiday week-end.  "Turkey" and "trot" do go so well together, right?  People sign up for these races more often than others because they are easily accessible and can be a lot of fun.  They tend to be casual and accepting of all types of runners, sometimes even strollers and bikes for kids.  They usually end with a party of some sort with good food, hot coffee or cold beer.  If you're lucky, you might even get to hear some live, local music.  What's not to like?  I, personally, don't need a good excuse to get out there, but I can think of several such as, it can be fun to do with your family, or it will get you out of the house for a few hours when you need a break from your family, or it can help you justify a very large turkey dinner, need I go on?  Whether you are a runner or not, why not try it this year?

Listen to this:
Lazy Eye - Silversun Pickups  Lazy Eye - Carnavas

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Unexpected

It happens often.  I wake up planning to go for a run.  But maybe this particular day, I'm battling a cold, or perhaps I overindulged the night before, or even more likely, I'm just totally exhausted from whatever I have been juggling over the past few days.  Whatever the case, mentally motivating, not only to get out there, but even to say, I'm going to get out there, can be extremely challenging.  It feels as though my running shoes are sitting there staring at me and so I'm trying to avoid them each time I walk by.  As odd as it sounds, these runs often turn out to be the best ones.  For me, nine times out of ten, when I head out the door expecting the worst, my head and legs decide that the release of energy and endorphins from this run are exactly what I need.  As I start off, I'm willing to accept the fact that I'll be trudging along at a snail's pace and then something happens.  I suddenly feel light on my feet and capable of so much more than I had planned.  And for this particular run, all of the sudden, I feel really good which is totally unexpected.  You just never know.  I love that.

Listen to this:
Cracks (featuring Belle Humble) [Flux Pavilion Remix] - Freestylers  Cracks (feat. Belle Humble) [Flux Pavilion Remix] - Cracks - EP

Friday, November 18, 2011

It's Friday - Reader's Pick

From R.A.  "It starts out slow, once it gets pumping it's all good!"  She tells me she likes to listen to this one on repeat.   Thanks for sharing.

Listen to this:
Lose Yourself - Eminem  Lose Yourself - 8 Mile (Soundtrack from the Motion Picture)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Run With It, Listen to It, Wear It!

Running With Music t-shirts are now available for purchase.  Made by Next Level,  lightweight 100% preshrunk cotton jersey.  Ladies size M (0-4) and L (6-10).  Or, men's size "tight" if you're up for wearing a purple shirt.  Seriously, if enough guys are interested I'll order men's sizes, so please let me know.  Price is $20 (includes shipping and handling).  Model, Kirsten, is wearing a ladies M.  **email to place an order.

**email to place an order.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Make A Statement

Over the past 6 weeks I have been working on changing my running form so that I strike the ground mid-foot as opposed to landing on my heel, which is how I've always run along with about 80% of the population.  This has been incredibly challenging and very frustrating as it slows me down and gives me an additional variable to focus on during my run.  That said, research shows that runners who strike mid-foot tend to end up with less injuries than those who strike on their heel.  I have had several injuries over the years, so I'm willing to make the effort if this is truly the case.  To support my effort, I decided to try out a new pair of "minimal" running shoes; straying from the fit and style I have worn every year since college.  When I purchased them, I decided to go all out and get the neon turquoise and yellow version rather than my usual white with a splash of color.  I'm not going to lie, when I put them on this morning, I felt like superhero. They are totally wild and I wasn't sure I could pull them off, but I went for it.  From a fashion standpoint, the shoes are one of the few things a runner gets to play with.  Let me sum up the various comments that I received throughout the day:

"Wow, those are awesome!" - from my daughter, Rosie
"Whoa, look at Mrs. Trachsel's shoes" - from a mom at rosie's school who was pointing out my shoes to her daughter
"Oh my, those shoes remind me of the Reeboks my gym teacher used to wear in the 80s" - another mom at school
"Nice, those are cool. I like 'em"- from Kirsten, my running partner
"Yo. Do they make those shoes in the same colors for men?" - from a total stranger yelling across the street at me in downtown Winchester

Ok, I can appreciate the fact that by wearing these shoes I'm standing out more than usual.  And I know that there was some sarcasm in a few of these comments.  But, you know what...why not make a statement?  I'm a runner.  Check out my freakin' bad-- shoes.

Listen to this:
Pumped Up Kicks - Foster the People (I couldn't resist)  Pumped Up Kicks - Torches

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Fun of It

Yesterday, my seven year old daughter, Rosie, asked me if we could go for a run.  She's never suggested this and typically she gets tired after about a half a mile walk, so I did not take her very seriously.  I suggested she ride her scooter and I'd walk beside her into town.  But, that's not what she meant.  "I want to go for a run, like you do - a real run."  So, this was different.  I decided to roll with it.  We both got our sneakers on and some running clothes; a collared shirt and velour pants for her, but hey, whatever works.  Then we were off.  After about 3 minutes, I looked over and she had this fantastic ear to ear grin.  She was bouncing up and down, looking behind her, looking at me, taking it all in.  Then, she said, "mom, I'm liking this."  We took 2 breaks to walk a bit, but made it into town with no complaints, running and chatting the whole way.  I could feel the pride she was exuding.  We then decided to have lunch, not something I normally would do when I am halfway through a run, but she is seven and my rules don't apply.  At this point, I assumed she'd want to walk home or hop in the stroller that my husband had brought down with my four year old, but not a chance.  She was running back.  We made it into a race with the others and she laughed and waved back to them all the way up a half mile hill and back to our neighborhood.  This run was such an amazing one for so many reasons.  First, I had such an incredible bonding moment with my daughter.  This was unlike anything we've done together.  She knows running is something I love and she wanted to feel it and understand it, and share it with me, which was so awesome.   But, more importantly, I noticed this: she was having so much fun, she didn't focus for a second on how hard she was working.  And this pretty much sums up what I love about running.  I know running is work and it's always really hard and for some, it's a lot of other things, both good and bad.  But, for me, and clearly for Rosie, it's so much fun the rest doesn't seem to matter.

Listen to this:
Wired - I Break Horses  Wired - Hearts

Friday, November 11, 2011

Truth & Salvage Co. Contest Winner

Congrats to Richarda Ericson, the winner of Running With Music's first reader's contest.   Ric and I used to rock out together in our dorm room at Colgate University which makes the win that much sweeter.  She'll be getting the Truth & Salvage Co. t-shirt and CD, compliments of the band.  Hope you enjoy it, Ric!
Thanks again to the band and to everyone who entered.

Come join us for the show tomorrow night at the Brighton Music Hall if you are in the Boston area.

It's Friday - Reader's Pick

From Joe H.  One of his "old-time favorites".  Thanks for sharing.

Listen to this:
If I Can't Change Your Mind - Sugar  If I Can't Change Your Mind - Copper Blue

** Note: Stay tuned.  Truth & Salvage contest winner announced tonight.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What Will Make Me Better?

What's going to make me a better runner?  Several of the athletes on the cross country team that I coach ask this question on a weekly basis.  Should I eat differently?  Should I sleep more?  Should I run more miles?  Should I do more speed work?  How do I get myself up to that next level?  The answer to this one is simple, really.  You are already doing it.  Just by asking yourself the question and giving thought to the answer, you're on your way.  And beyond the stats, the fitness level and the nutrition, and all the other variables is the attitude.  Without a good attitude, there is no reason to put an effort into rest of it.  You might not run a faster time each with each race, but your mind will be stronger and you will want it more and eventually, this will get you there in more ways than one.  If you want to be better, you will.  And it's your attitude that will be behind it all.  All of the girls on my team show up every day with a smile on their face.  So, they're already halfway there.  Now, I'm trying to do the a coach, as a runner and as a person.  Practice what you preach, right?

Listen to this:
Steve McQueen - M83 Steve McQueen - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


A huge congratulations to all the NYC Marathon runners who finished today.  Most of us know how much time and energy go into training for a marathon.  It is a huge commitment both physically and mentally.  To run 26.2 miles in accomplishment unlike any other.  As a runner and a music lover, I particularly liked this quote from Molly Pritz, today's first US woman to cross the finish line, when asked about whether she was worried if she'd be out there running on her own.

"I really don't care if I'm in a group or not. I've trained to run my own pace, and that's what I plan to do. I've got a bunch of secret songs I'll hum to myself to maintain my pace. I have a different one for each of my different paces. I just hum the chorus lines over and over."  

This statement reaffirms my feeling that music will always carry us when we need it.  And that is so cool.

Listen to this:
Lions in Cages - Wolf Gang   Lions In Cages - Wolf Gang - EP

Friday, November 4, 2011

It's Friday - Reader's Pick

From Aimee B.  Turn the volume up on this one.  Thanks for sharing!

Listen to this:
Do-Wah-Doo - Kate Nash  Do-Wah-Doo - My Best Friend Is You

Thursday, November 3, 2011


This morning I ran into a friend as I was dropping off my girls at school.  She asked me if I was about to go running and told me how envious she was of me that I could muster up the energy to get out there.  I asked her what she meant.  She said, "I want to go running.  I tell myself all the time that I'm going to make it happen.  I buy the shorts and the shoes and I get it in my head that I'm ready.  But, then, I don't do it.  I just can't seem to get over the hump."  Admittedly, I'm not an expert on motivation and there are always days when I can barely get out there myself, but what I did tell her is that "the hump" doesn't have to be so big.  Why not make it a bit smaller and easier to get over?  Eliminate the "but" and just say "i want to".  Then make the goal something that is attainable.  3 miles instead of 5.  1 mile instead of 3.  A long walk instead of nothing.  And then try it again. And keep trying until you do it.  And, when you're ready, raise the hump.  "Ok", she said.  "No more 'buts'".  And then we high-fived.

Listen to this:
Maps - The Yeah Yeah Yeahs  Maps - Fever to Tell

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Slow Down and Be Grateful

In November, the gears tend to shift a bit.  Daylight savings hits and throws me for a loop as the days grow shorter so quickly.  Then, the holiday decorations come out in full force and immediately stress me out as I start to think about how much I need to get done in the next couple months.  This month, I'm going to make every effort to slow things down...easier said, than done.  I'd really like to take this month to just be grateful.  For my family, my friends, my neighbors, my legs, my iPod...the list goes on and on.  Yes, I know the cheese factor is high, here.  But I need to remind myself of all of these things as the chaos starts to swirl.  This afternoon I listened as the girls I coach huddled at the starting line for their league meet.  One of them said to her teammates, "we love to run, and we love this team, so we should just be happy." And then they were off, and they were all smiling.  I am so grateful for that moment.

Listen to this:
Steady As She Goes - The Raconteurs   Steady As She Goes - Broken Boy Soldiers