Relax Into It

“But you can’t muscle through a five-hour run that way; you have to relax into it like easing your body into a hot bath, until it no longer resists the shock and begins to enjoy it.” -Christopher McDougall Born to Run

People have asked me how to get to a place where they can run or hike long distances without hating every minute of it. The best advice I can give them is just to accept the fact that they will be running or hiking for a long time. The enemy of joy is anxiety and if I am only thinking about the finish line, I will only think about how anxious I am to get there.

Christopher McDougall’s book Born to Run was a life-changing book for me and it should be required reading for anyone who does anything even remotely athletic.

And that includes playing music. I can no more force myself to run 10 miles than I can force myself to play a concerto. I have to “relax into it”.

I have so often been in a hurry to learn a piece because of some perceived time restraint or notion of pride (i.e. thinking I was good enough to learn something quickly). But when I force myself into playing something, it is almost assured to end in disaster. As soon as the pressures of performance are added, I break down.

If I approach a piece as I would “ease [myself] into a hot bath”, I find that performing it is much more successful and enjoyable. I always have to remind myself to relax into it.

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