I’m about to do something I’ve never done before. It’s kinda like running up 80 floors which is kinda like a band touring.
And because I’m constantly curious about the connection between live music and running, I’m going to attempt a new grueling physical and mental challenge and then see what happens during and at the end of 13.1 miles.
I’m going to run the Rock ‘N’ Roll Chicago Half-Marathon – my first half-marathon ever — and I’m excited that this challenge will allow me to explore live music in a new way.
For starters, I know I’ll be thinking about my favorite shows as I run by locations and venues where I’ve had some of my most memorable concert moments.
I’m also inspired by the since of community I’ve experienced as my family and friends get ready to run the race, and I’ll explain more valuable lessons I’ve learned in a moment.
Why Running Rocks My World
As I mentioned before with our blog writing and community management experiments, running has always played a big role in the creative fuel for Live Fix and other areas of my life.
Much of the reason why I enjoy running is because it gives me a chance to clear my mind and explore new creative thoughts as I hustle on down the road.
I also enjoy running because of the mental and physical challenge it presents. I don’t want to run at first but once I get going I often don’t want to stop (again, most of the time).
And towards the end of my runs I’m usually pushing myself much in the same way I push myself through the doubt and fear of the creative process when writing a blog post or a concert review.
And speaking of pushing ourselves beyond our limit and comfort zones, I’m remind how the challenges of running and writing are a lot like seeing 50 shows in 31 days or seeing 100 shows in 100 days.
That said, I’ve begun to see many similarities between running and the writing because, even though I enjoy both experiences immensely, both usually come down to a test of will, determination and endurance.
And as I get physically and psychologically stronger in running those strengths help to cope with the times of weakness in writing, and vice versa.
So as funny as it is, I actually have my mom to thank for planting this crazy idea of running a half-marathon in my head.
I should also tell you that she has never run a 5K before. But because the race will benefit cancer research for her sister, my mom decided to run it and actually challenge me to run it too.
And I accepted the challenge. Thanks mom, you rock!
Live Music and Long Distance Running Are Connected?
So now that my mom got me into the race, I’m looking forward to this experiment because this half-marathon will have live bands playing at each mile markers throughout the race.
I’ve never run a race with mini-concerts going on to motivate me and I’m looking forward to seeing what the scene will be like.
What Will Bubble Up In Our Minds During the Race?
How will this sensory-rich environment of live music at each mile marker impact everyone’s emotions and memories?
Will the course concerts trick my mind into not focusing on the physical pain and take me to a new level of psychological escape similar to what I experience when my mind forgets about the grind of life during a concert?
Will any artists be running this race to help building up their touring chops and cope with touring fatigue?
Will the combination of physical exertion and the emotional power of live music trigger emotions I didn’t know were buried down deep?
What I’ve Learned About Community Building
The last thing that has me jazzed about the race is the strong sense of community that has been growing ever since I posted on Facebook that I was running it.
So far the experience has felt a lot like concert buddies going on road trip to see their favorite band or heading to a summer music festival.
For example, within a few moments of my Facebook post family members and friends have commented on the thread I initially started. And I’ve even heard from friends who I haven’t spoken to in a while and they have expressed an interest to run this crazy race too.
It’s been awesome to see everyone come together in this micro-community to share training tips, encouraging each other and even plan time around the race to hangout and enjoy the festive surroundings in downtown Chicago.
This half-marathon experiment has reinforced the truth that if you’re trying to build a community for concert fans, running, writing or Walgreens employees, you must start small with a committed group and then strive to create a sense of belonging with those people.
And then you must encourage and empower your community to freely share their experiences at every step along the way.
It’s A Marathon Not A Sprint
Probably the biggest lesson I’ve been reminded about is that fact that building a community is a marathon not a sprint.
Building a community is a daily challenge that gradually builds momentum and there are psychological and sociological challenges at each mile marker.
You must take the time to closely listen and know what inspires your community. And when you figure that out, you should gradually nurture that inspiration with encouraging responses to community members, whether that’s sharing helpful links about training or swapping stories about a great concert you just saw.
And if you’re the community leader, you must also connect community members to each other and fuel the community with new topics and ideas. You must recognize and reward those in your community and encourage them to evolve the conversations and start new ones.
I’ve seen all of this going on in our growing micro-community of aspiring half-marathoners and props to my older brother Joe for setting up the RunKeeper group so we can all stay connected and see how our runs are going.
If you’re looking for great reads on the important elements of community building that you can apply to any community, I encourage you to check out the book The Art of Community by Jono Bacon and weekly posts by Richard Millington. Both of those guys know lots about this stuff and their insights have fueled my inspiration for this half-marathon/live music community building experiment.
I’m sure as I continue to train for the race that I’ll discover even more about community building and the connection between our favorite concert experiences and running a half-marathon, and I’ll be sure to share those discoveries and experiences with you.
If you’ve have similar stories, I’d love to hear about your experiences too.
That’s it for now. Stay tuned for more as we look to connect with the bands, the organizers of the Rock N Roll Half Marathon and fellow concert fans to share stories on a future episode of Live Fix Radio.
Until then, go ahead and post your thoughts, tips, experiences and comments below, and check out these handy half-marathon training guides that I’ve found helpful if it’s your first time too.
Tips & Guides
Sign up for the Rock N Roll Chicago Half Marathon.
Jeff Galloway Half Marathon training guide
Runner’s World Half Marathon training guide