Maintaining my mojo with Lt. Kijé

Arb_Snow_Trees_web
Winter’s okay when it looks like this

So, winter. I’m kind of ready for it to be over. It would be one thing if we still had enough snow to ski, but we don’t. The one week which contained enough snow was inconveniently full of other distractions, like work and shoveling. Besides, Cookie’s mom was in the hospital (she’s okay now) and Cookie needed to deal with that, so we couldn’t get together to ski.

All my exercise since about January 2nd has taken place inside my cozy gym, on machines or the indoor track. I try to vary it. One thing you can say for elliptical trainers and stationary bikes: it’s easy to read while using them. That may be where I get most of my reading done. One thing you can’t say for either of those options: they’re not weight-bearing. I need to do some weight-bearing exercise to keep my bones strong. So the other thing I do is “running.”

I don’t love running. When I do it, it’s called slogging – a cross between slow and jogging. I got that term from my son-in-law (thanks, Danny!) and it’s quite descriptive of what I look like while doing it. I’d rather walk, but I can’t get my heart rate up enough that way, so slogging it is. I plan to slog later today, and while there isn’t enough snow to ski on, there’s still enough out there to make sidewalks and roads slippery and/or impassable and generally to cramp my style. So I’ll head to the indoor track at my gym.

To make indoor running – okay, any kind of running – tolerable, I listen to music. It’s too much work to put together a hip, happening playlist of current music that goes at exactly the right speed to help me keep my heart rate in the zone. I have a few tried-and-true things I use while slogging. I rotate playlists so as not to get too bored. In the winter, I’m particularly fond of Prokofiev’s Lt. Kijé suite.

The sections have evocative titles: “Naissance” (Birth), “Romance”, “Noces” (Wedding), “Troika”, and “Enterrement” (Burial). I’ve done almost no research on this bit of music, but here’s what I know: Prokofiev wrote the suite for a movie score. In the movie, there’s no actual Lt. Kijé, but I like to pretend that there really was such a person.

It’s fun to imagine what might be happening in an imaginary movie while you’re slogging. “Naissance” starts with this sad trumpet part, reminiscent of “Taps”. I figure little Kijé’s dad died in combat and his mom is giving birth to him while in mourning for her late husband. Then the music gets into some perky flutes, like a little boy discovering the world. Then the theme turns martial, but in kind of a playful way. At that point, I imagine little Kijé playing with toy soldiers and then his friends, fighting mock battles the way kids do, or used to, before their parents quit buying toy guns and made them cut that out.

Some sections – I’m looking at you,  “Romance” and “Enterrement” – are too poky for running, even the way I do it, but the other three work just fine.

Troika_akron
A troika – Wikipedia Commons Image

“Troika” (which sounds like this) is the best section, you ask me. Especially in the winter. I imagine I’m the lead horse, and even in horse form, I’m aware that this isn’t your ordinary rodeo (or sleigh ride). We’re carrying the noble Lt. Kijé and his bride off to their honeymoon and I’m very proud to be in the lead for this auspicious occasion. This makes my slogging adventurous and fun – much more than just huffing along an indoor track would be.

There’s not enough of Lt. Kijé to fill out all my running time, so I’ve added some other pieces, but it’s always fun to rotate him into my exercise music this time of year.

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