Beyonce said that when she was 10 years old her father would make her sing while running on a treadmill to build stamina for her stage performances as part of the group Destiny’s Child. Apparently she still does it and so do many other pop, rock, musical theatre performers and even some opera singers.
There was an interesting thread on this subject recently in the Professional Voice Teachers Facebook group - some espousing it and some dubious of the health of undertaking such a vocal training regimen.
Singing while running is not new. The military does it with their running cadences. However, as a training tool for singers it seems to be taking off.
Today I’m going to discuss the pros and cons of this form of training, how to decide if it’s right for you and steps to implement it.
Pros and Cons of Running and Singing
From my own personal experience, when I took up triathlon my vocal stamina and power increased tremendously and I was already a fairly active person going to the gym 2 – 3 times a week and taking 3 dance classes a week, but the cardio training of triathlon made a significant difference.
And that brings me to:
Is It Right for YOU?
Yes you need to be already physically fit. If you can not run, I mean JUST run, for at least 30 minutes, you should not attempt to run and sing as part of your training. This holds true of any cardio and singing – ellipticals, bikes.
However, you may be able to WALK and sing and this can have some of the same benefits if you don’t need to do much movement, which brings me to the second point in deciding if this is right for you.
Does your singing require a lot of stamina and involve moving while singing? If you are a show choir singer, a musical theatre performer, have an active stage performance of any kind, then YES, you need to develop the stamina and the sound stability that this will provide.
My first taste of the necessity for this control came when I was in my high school musical production of Anything Goes and I had to tap dance and belt out my solo over orchestra and chorus (this was before headset sound systems, so no adjusting sound balance). I’ve since had to deal with this many times from dancing and cartwheeling through the Can-Can while singing in Orpheus in the Underworld, to sustaining a high B while being lifted up and perching on a dancer’s shoulder for the big finish after singing and dancing my way through Not Since Nineveh in Kismet.
If you just stand and deliver (or sit and deliver) then probably you don’t need to do this type of training.
Steps to Safe and Effective Run/Sing Training
Now that you’ve decided you want to attempt this type of training. Here’s what you need to know:
Just like any other training, if you do it in a slow progressive manner, you will reduce your chance of injury and soon enough will have the stamina, endurance and vocal power that you require for the most demanding vocal athletics required of you.
You are a vocal ATHLETE!
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The Fit Singer is not a medical service. All physical activity carries the inherent risk of injury. It is your responsibility to choose which activities are right for you and to consult with medical professionals as you deem prudent or necessary. You are solely responsible for your health care and activity choices.
Valentine’s Day – the perfect time to talk chocolate! And share a decadent chocolate recipe that only has 3 ingredients!
As singers we are told to avoid chocolate prior to singing due to increased mucus production. This is mostly due to dairy and refined sugar being present in most chocolate and contributing to thickening of mucus.
I actually was not able to find any research that used raw cacao as the basis of these kinds of studies. This may be great news for you as a singer because cacao has many great benefits for you!
The best benefits of chocolate can be found in raw cacao powder, raw cacao nibs and raw cacao beans, along with dark cocoa powder and very dark chocolate, containing at least 80% or higher cacao content. Raw chocolate will contain many more antioxidants than heated forms like standard cocoa powder or processed chocolate bars, so stick to the raw forms whenever possible.
Raw Cacao has a huge number of health benefits that will have you singing great! This includes increasing the release of endorphins which can help to create a ‘feel good’ buzz and help improve your mood. Perfect before heading out on stage.
More importantly, it can help you stave off those nasty colds, flu and sore throats that threaten every singer. Cacao is a powerful antioxidant that boosts the immune system. It also contains a number of important vitamins & minerals such as magnesium, calcium, zinc, potassium, B-complex vitamins and iron.
Raw cacao is made by cold-pressing un-roasted cocoa beans. The process keeps the living enzymes in the cocoa and removes the fat (cacao butter). Then, you heat it to a certain temperature and enjoy as a warm or hot drink. When consumed regularly, raw cacao has the ability to help you feel more energized, boost your concentration and fuel your body's immune system.
Did you miss the boat and ended up with a cold that’s now turned into a persistent cough? Cacao has got you covered there, too!
Skip the honey and lemon — and grab some chocolate. Researchers claim that cacao has demulcent properties, which means it relieves inflammation or irritation. Essentially, it's stickier than typical cough syrup, and better forms a coating to protect the nerve endings in the throat that trigger the urge to cough. Just suck on a square of extra dark chocolate so that it has time to coat the throat.
To keep with the Valentine’s mood I have a great simple recipe for Raw Cacao Truffles to share with special someone. (Did I mention that cacao also has benefits for fertility?)
Raw Cacao Truffles
1 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup cocoa powder (or raw cacao powder)
1 cup dates, pitted (I used halawi dates, but medjool would work just as well)
2 tablespoons water
extra cocoa or cacao powder, for dusting
Grind the cashews in your food processor until they have a flour-like consistency, add the 1/4 cup cocoa powder and pulse.
Toss in the dates and water and process until a ball of dough starts to form.
Shape into 1 inch balls with the palms of your hands. Dust each truffle with cocoa powder, and chill until you’re ready to serve!
Have you said “bye bye” to sleeping through the night?
Are late night performances messing with your sleep routine?
Are you feeling exhausted or “running on stress hormones” all day?
Do not fear, I have some great tips (and an amazing recipe) for you!
The science of sleep is fascinating, complicated and growing
Sleep is this daily thing that we all do and yet we're just beginning to understand all of the ways it helps us and all of the factors that can affect it.
Lack of sleep affects just about everything in your body and mind. People who get less sleep tend to be at higher risk for so many health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer; not to mention effects like slower metabolism, weight gain, hormone imbalance, inflammation, and poor immunity. And don't forget the impact lack of sleep can have on moods, memory and decision-making skills. Ever had a memory gaff during a performance? It could be lack of sleep.
Do you know that lack of sleep may even negate the health benefits of your exercise program? (Gasp!)
OMG – What aspect of health does sleep not affect???
Knowing this it's easy to see the three main purposes of sleep:
Do you know how much sleep adults need? It's less than your growing kids need but you may be surprised that it's recommended that all adults get 7 - 9 hours a night. For real!
Try not to skimp! And I know it can be hard as a singer if you have a day job, but for your healthy and longevity as a singer it's best to try to find a solution.
(Don't worry, I have you covered with a bunch of actionable tips below.)
Tips for better sleep
So how many of these tips can you start implementing today?
Recipe (Caffeine-free latte for your afternoon “coffee break”): Caffeine-Free Chai Latte
1 bag of rooibos chai tea (rooibos is naturally caffeine-free)
2 cups of boiling water
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon almond butter (creamy is preferred)
2 dates (optional)
Cover the teabag and dates (if using) with 2 cups of boiling water and steep for a few minutes.
Discard the tea bag & place tea, soaked dates, tahini & almond butter into a blender.
Blend until creamy.
Serve and Enjoy!
Tip: You can try this with other nut or seed butters to see which flavour combination you like the best. Cashew butter anyone?