The singing room

Imagine that you’re a singer. In your home you build a special room just for your singing. Every day you go into that room and for anywhere from 90 minutes to three hours you practice your singing. Some days are more challenging than others, with big octave shifts, trills or timber exercises. On many days, you go into your singing room twice a day.

For six months you pursue your singing, in your singing room, every day. Besides the time you spend singing, you sacrifice other things that might affect your singing. You miss those things. But, on the other hand, you love singing and you know you have the potential to get a lot better at it if you work hard and stay disciplined. So it’s worth it.

Twice a year, you get the opportunity to perform. You think about these upcoming performances each day, as you sing alone in your room. Those dates keep you going, even when the practicing gets tedious or you hit a patch when it doesn’t seem to be going that well. But overall, it’s going well. You’re getting better and sounding very good as the days, weeks and months roll on. You feel positive about that upcoming date, when you’ll take your talents and skills outside of your room at last.

Your performance date arrives and you take the stage. You’re a little nervous, but that’s normal. You’re confident and know you’re ready. You open your mouth to sing.

What emerges sounds exactly like a startled screech owl.

You’re disturbed, mystified, embarrassed. But mostly, you’re shocked. It’s like being slapped in the face by someone you love. The loss is terrible. But you get over it. Then you pick yourself up and you try again. You pick apart what may have gone wrong and try something new. Something that, while different, has you working just as hard and sacrificing just as much, every day, as you did before.

Six months later, the curtain opens, and the exact same thing happens.


Don’t worry. This post is where the self pity ends. This year was a terrible racing year and I’m writing it off. Thank you for all of the kind comments. I don’t know what I’ll do next.

12 Responses

  1. I’ve experienced this analogy as well. One thing that helped me keep singing is that I love the singing itself. I loved preparing for the performance more than the performance itself.

    The days preparing for the performance are what defines you as a singer.

  2. Here is to a better year in 2010!

  3. Write it off, and move on. No reason to make any decisions right now. And there are no wrong decisions here, just what’s right for you.

  4. Sorry about the race results…you are in way better shape than a 3:46.

    I’ve had a bum year too… dropped out of spring marathon, ran a sub-par fall marathon. Similar experience as you.

    Ever thought about the ‘George Costanza Approach’ of doing exactly the opposite of your instincts? As an observer of this blog for many months, it seems to me that you are way over trained. Have you considered another coach who takes a different approach? You have a tremendous base and likely only need a little speed and tempo work to run a very fast time. Check out this guy wo only runs 40-60 miles a week and is hoping to run sub 2:50.

    Let’s not forget Matt Fitzgerald’s experience with a similar training plan. Where is he by the way?

    Anyway, I’m sure you will figure this all out and come back very strong.

    Good luck.

  5. This was a beautiful analogy, though a complete and utter nightmare. I’m wishing you some inner peace and understanding to make new goals that excite you and keep you wanting to go back to that room to hone the talents you so obviously have. Keep the strength, this is but a moment in time.

  6. Not sure if it’s any solace to you, but the benefits of the hard work you’ve put in do not disappear with the performance, bad or good. You have attained a new level of fitness that will be there to build on in the next cycle if you decide another cycle is what you want.

  7. Here goes. Use this or not, as you prefer.
    I’m married to a singer, and one of her friends had a problem like the one you describe. She basically got an over-use injury of her vocal chords. So she sat in her music room and played her guitar for a few months.. Now she’s a pretty good guitarist and she’s singing again.
    Back to running, it seems that you have a choice of approaches here. You can continue to work on diagnosing and fixing a specific problem, or you can do something else for a while. The running equivalent of playing guitar? Maybe trail racing. No pacing or PR pressures, just go out and have some fun, and you’re stiil making good use of the music room. If that does not appeal, then work on the shorter distances for a season. At the moment, you’re learning how to fail at marathons. Musicians have a saying about that. “Practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.”

  8. a couple of sour notes don’t make you any less a singer.

  9. You training like a long distance ULTRA-runner!.
    Thats good for a > 50 miles race run, but not for a fast marathon.
    You can run more fun(training) marathons before to start the fast marathon, than your body and mind wil understand and feel the marathon.
    Try to run the marathon whit no watch..

    Jullie, you have and can run a fast marathon, i think you can run 3:05 ore faster.
    But do not train so many week miles and long time to your goal marathon…
    You wil see that you run more relax and faster..

    maybe you run whit my a fun relax newyork marathon ;-)…..

    Yes you can…


  10. That was beautifully written Julie. One day you’ll sing a marathon with perfection, such that you’ll receive a standing ovation as you cross the finish mat.

  11. In Italian you sound like “una sorpresa civetta,” if that helps. But I have no answer/suggestion/observation as to why.

    I do not subscribe to the less-is-more theory but it is legitimate to ask at what point more-is-less.

  12. If you have readers that care about your success (and perceived failures). Please post a race report when you’re ready.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: