Johnny Ran Great Tonight!

Posted June 8, 2003 2:05 PM

Early one morning last summer, as I was beginning my return to running, I was doing one of my typical workouts, running 1K loops around Clay Park. I watched with interest as a group of people started setting up for a picnic at one of the park's shelters. Included in the group was a trio of musicians with a couple guitars and a set of drums who were there to provide some live music.

I kept on running as they did their "check, check"s, twangs and drum thumps and was delighted as they suddenly launched into a rendition of the Chuck Berry song "Johnny B. Goode."

Chuck Berry has always been one of my favorite old time rock and rollers and Johnny B. Goode is a classic that is a perfect song to accompany running. The beat helps you keep up the pace and the refrain's "Go, Johnny Go" acts like a mental cheerleader to keep you going. My feet danced over the pavement as my steps landed to the beat. As I am inclined to do from time to time, I started thinking up some alternate lyrics to fit the situation...


Deep down in Louisiana
close to New Orleans,
way back up in the woods
among the evergreens.
there stand a country cabin
made of clay and wood,
where lived a running boy,
named Johnny B. Goode.
He loved to run the races
but didn't do that well,
but, oh! how he longed to hear
that victory bell.

Go, go, go Johnny, go...

So the stage was set and Johnny was now a runner, but he was a slow one. What would be the cure? It had to be the same thing that I knew I needed -- more miles!


You see he ran all his races
from way in the back,
but then his training took on
a whole new tack.
He ran every night
and he trained all day.
Lots and lots more miles
showed him the way.
Soon people he passed by
they would stop and say,
"My, my, he makes that running
look like play!"

Go, go, go Johnny go...

There's nothing like live music to get your heart thumping and I was having great fun as I circled the park with nary a thought about any effort running. But I couldn't keep this up forever. It was early in my training and I needed to get back on my way back home. All that was left to complete my lyric rewrite was some praise from mama and a big finish...


Well his mama told him
someday you will be THE MAN,
and you will be the leader
in every race you ran.
Many people coming
from miles around,
to see you run your races
and your times come down.
Maybe some day
your name will be in light
saying JOHNNY RAN GREAT TONIGHT!

Go go, go Johnny go... 

Since that day, my version of Johnny B. Goode often goes through my head and helps me keep on pace as I work to complete those last few long run miles or intervals. I toy with the lyrics from time to time, but I thought I'd pass along my latest mental version for your enjoyment. Now, if only my parents had named me Johnny...

Tom . . . South Bend, IN