Skip to main content


I did five pushups this evening.  I’ve been off running for two weeks now, with tendinitis in my foot, and although I’ve done a bit of biking - commuting, is all - nothing for me tops the pleasure of rolling out the door for 6 or 10 miles and checking my watch to see how close I am to my goal time - per mile, per route, per plan.  I miss my marathon training like crazy.

Last night I was chatting with a good friend at a gig, and brought up my frustration at being off my feet.  She said she’d gone through the same thing, stopped running a year ago, and recommended pushups.  I said she was crazy.  She pointed out that you could count them, and improve your number every day.  And I said she was awesome.

Why did that simple statement make all the difference for me?  Running has been my dream sport for years not because I am a good runner, or fast, or apparently able to do it without injury.  What I love is the numbers.  I can go out for a run and push myself to achieve more than the day before, and I can know that I did it by the numbers on my watch, or in my training log. When winter weather keeps me off the streets, I can enjoy a treadmill all the more because the numbers are all there right in front of me.  My pace, the seconds, the tenths of a mile just ticking off digitally before my eyes.  If I ran with no goal, no measurement device, and no idea of what I did yesterday, I’d still enjoy the endorphins and the experience - but I’d probably stop after ten minutes.  In the absence of that personal drive to top myself, or to hit a certain pace for a certain time in my plan, the exercise itself wouldn’t be exciting.

But pushups, now.  I could work up to ten in a row.  I could do two sets, or work up to three.  I’d be able to feel and see myself getting stronger.  I could get a little better every day and I LOVE doing that!

Years ago I commented to my father, the marathoner and superman, that running gave me an outlet for my obsessive need to analyze and improve my own performance - a thing to work on that was low stakes.  Zero stakes, compared to playing the oboe.  After all, every time I play in public I am heard, and judged, to an extent, by my colleagues and bosses if not always by the audience, and I really can’t afford to play badly.  As a freelance musician, my career is on the line with every appearance, and a few bad ones can drop me down a call list pretty fast. 

When I run a race, though, the only one who cares about the result is me.  I’m not naturally fast and won’t ever challenge the front runners, but I can compete against myself to my heart’s content, and enjoy the challenge with no negative results.  Except, I suppose, irritating injuries which then keep me from running. 

Hence, pushups.  Let’s see if I can’t get strong while I’m waiting around to get healthy.

I love my life.


  1. Keeping in shape, as you are, is excellent and I hope you inspire many others to follow your example. Just mind that, in the computer/office age, we tend to de develop short chest and long back muscles because our arms are always forward. This is an imbalance that can lead to pain. Doing "reverse dumbell flys", with proper technique, can go a long way in both preventing trouble and increasing that sense of wellness from gainnig strength.
    ...Keep up the good work!

  2. I feel your pain. (no, seriously, I do. I hurt my ankle and haven't been inside a gym for over 2 weeks. It's tough!) Hope your foot gets better soon so that you can get back to running. Pushups are a wonderful idea. Our local Y also offers Pilates but I am opting to wait for the ankle to heal and go back to running.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Discouraging Words

I can remember at least two old cranky violinists coming to talk to young me about NOT going into music.  There was a session, for example, during a Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra retreat in which a real RPO professional (who was probably 47 but whom I remember as ancient) told us that, statistically, no one who graduates from music school wins auditions for jobs because there are only like 4 jobs out there in the world and 7000 hotshots coming into the job market every week. 

Quit NOW. 

I may have misremembered the details of this speech, but I remember the emotional jolt.  It was designed to discourage.

Last weekend I was presenting at a Double Reed Festival, and heard some oboists grumbling about another presenter who had evidently given something of the same talk to a roomful of masterclass attendees and participants.  High school students and cheerful adult amateurs.

And look, there's an element of truth to this.  Classical music is not a growing field, and it is leg…

Shaq and the Oboe

Here’s my FAVORITE thing about that Shaquille O'Neal video everyone's sharing this week - it’s how HAPPY he is playing this silly game and how little he CARES what the oboe actually SOUNDS LIKE or how to play it. 
Almost as if the oboe is not a giant obstacle to overcome.

Instead of focusing on the CRAFT of the instrument, the precise fingerings, the quality of the sound, the finesse of the vibrato - his focus is on DELIVERING the SONG.   It’s on COMMUNICATION, not perfection.

What a LIBERATING concept!

When I am playing my best, I find that I can surpass the STRUGGLE and come to a place where my focus is on communication.   I can sing through the instrument, and I can use that voice to reach out and find someone else.  This is really what being In the Zone means for me - it's when I don’t have to engage with the OBOE and instead can be generous with my VOICE for the audience.

I seek and strive for this Zone all the time - it’s the whole point of practicing! I practice long…

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

We took a vacation this summer.This is not news to anyone in my life - anyone who knows me or especially Steve on Facebook followed along with all of our pictures.We took our travel trailer out to Arizona - via St Louis, Tulsa, Amarillo, Roswell, Santa Fe - and then stayed a week in Clarksdale and Flagstaff and visited some ancient pueblo ruins, Sedona, Jerome, the Lowell Observatory, the Grand Canyon.We swam in swimming pools, lakes, and icy mountain streams.We hiked.Eventually we came home again, via Albuquerque, Amarillo, Tulsa, and St Louis. (our inventiveness had somewhat worn out).After a week at home we took another trip, and drove to Vermont via western NY and the Adirondack Park (stayed an extra day to hike a mountain), lived four days in East Franklin VT, and came home via Catskill and eastern Ohio.
This vacation felt different from all of our previous ones.In the 21 years we’ve been married, I can name only one - maybe two trips we ever took that were not For Work or For …