This week was the kind of week that tests even the most capital-R of Runners' dedication to not being a total waste-of-life fatass: it rained a lot and when it wasn't raining it was hotter than Mrs. Reilly tongue-bathing some shrimp vindaloo. Here's a Spotify playlist that assisted in braving the elements.
"Clavicle," Alkaline Trio
Clarification: by "braving the elements" I mean "walking from my door to the car, driving to the gym and walking from the car to the gym door." That's right, I went back to the gym and got on the treadmill. Your wacky, fitness-freak aunt probably calls it the "dreadmill," but here at Recovering Fatass HQ we refer to it as "the stupid thing that I hate." We are a one-man operation right now but we have a part-time dog, so we can call ourselves "we" while also talking about the things I hate; dogs can't talk.
"One Big Holiday," My Morning Jacket
It's been a long time since I gave up the ammonia-infused sterility of the indoor track that moves for you for the wide open spaces of running the same exact route outside all the time. I was not really looking forward to it; all my memories of running on the treadmill are terrible ones. But I must remind myself that this is how that sentence should look: all my memories of running
on the treadmill are terrible ones. So I went back because there was no way I was running in pouring rain or 95-degree heat. The grass is always greener, even if there is none.
"All Things Ordinary," The Anniversary
I hate the summer. Well, no, I don't hate the summer, it's actually pretty great. Barbecues, outdoor-daytime drinking, ...other stuff. It can be a lot of fun. It is also hot as shit and I am the kind of person who sweats just from picking his nose. It's gross. When I was a bigger guy—also, minor detour here: all you super skinny, short guys (they're always short) who go around calling fat dudes "Big Guy" can go suffocate on the pillows of your race-car beds. No offense, though, Pint Size, just a term of endearment—I was hyper aware of sweating because sweating is the body's way of letting you know you are exerting yourself past what you typically do at rest. So, when fat guy walks down the street in a suit in mid-July and turns into a puddle of salt water it imparts a very specific message, which is: fat guy is fat and out of shape.
I did real estate in Manhattan for about a year. It was pretty cool—minus the never making any money because people are the worst—I got to walk around the city and check out these incredible living spaces I would never afford. It was absolutely brutal in the summer, though. It's very hard to sell somebody something when your face looks like the bridge all the water in your body climbs to commit suicide.
"5, 6 Kids," Bear vs. Shark
So, I don't like sweating. It reminds me of when I would sweat when it was inappropriate to sweat and I could feel everyone's eyes on me, even if they weren't. The annoying thing is, I still sweat a lot. But now I do a lot of appropriate sweating, too. All the same, I'm not running outside when it is 95 degrees and you can literally feel the air. I like the path of least resistance and sometimes that's the one that is a ten-foot loop of mechanically-operated rubber.
"Moby Dick/Bonzo's Montreux," Led Zeppelin
I never really thought of the name "treadmill" until the little "dreadmill" joke up there but now that I have it sounds even worse than I ever imagined. I mean, how many people died in mills before there were things like organized labor and robots? I hear the word "mill" and I think of some poor woman tied to a log, ready to be sawed in half by a Superman villain. And "tread" is the word for walking you use when you want to connote that the walking is really, really arduous and being done by a road-weary wanderer. So, in my curiosity, I looked up treadmill on Wikipedia and, Christ, it's not good.
A treadmill is a device for walking or running while staying in the same place. Treadmills were introduced before the development of powered machines, to harness the power of animals or humans to do work, often a type of mill that was operated by a person or animal treading steps of a treadwheel to grind grain. In later times treadmills were used as punishment devices for people sentenced to hard labour in prisons. The terms treadmill and treadwheel were used interchangeably for the power and punishment mechanisms.
The ferryman of Hades checks IDs at your gym now.
"Corduroy," Pearl Jam
The one good thing about treadmills though, is that they are in climate-controlled areas. So you can sweat normally and, more importantly, you do not have to see dudes running outside with no shirts on. Like, what the hell, guys? Are you that much cooler now? Is your run that much more bearable now that you are not wearing a fucking t-shirt while running through the soup that has become our air? If it's too hot for you to run outside in clothes like a normal person you could either a.) not run or b.) not run outside. This isn't the beach. This is a fucking street in a city with people trying to live their lives without having to see Joe Pro Fitness blatantly flaunt the laws of civilized society because he's in love with himself. You are one step removed from sending dick pics to a masseuse, OK guys?
"Make Me A Mixtape," The Promise Ring
Oh, whatever. I'd probably do it too if it didn't make people wretch.
"I Am Waiting," The Rolling Stones
Here is the token "Great song, but I can't see running to it" portion of the playlist. And here is where I will repeat the entire ethos of this feature: there is only one reason why you should select a song for a playlist and that is to distract your brain from constantly reminding your body that you are hurting it. There is only one reason, but there are dozens of song characteristics that help achieve that end. One of those is tempo. A fast-paced song helps you keep putting one foot in front of the other in a sort of rhythmic dance with no one that goes nowhere but straight ahead. That's cool and works pretty well most of the time. Another is the song's ability to take you (and your mind) somewhere else so that you are thinking about whatever the song triggers in your head rather than looking at your watch or noticing a landmark and calculating time and distance remaining on your run. This song does that for me. It's a nice change of pace, too. Sometimes with the fast-paced songs you feel like you're really running hard, so switching it up and hearing something move not quite as fast makes you feel like you're moving not quite as fast, even though your pace is constant.
I just now noticed that my lists are usually entirely alphabetical by artist because that's how I view my library. Even my playlist-making habits are a result of laziness.
"The Last Lie I Told," Saves The Day
So, I mentioned I sweat a lot. I apologize for this being a sweat-heavy post this week, but it is relevant and timely. One of the coping mechanisms I have developed is that after I have physically exerted myself, I take some time to cool off before getting in the shower. If I go into the shower sweaty, I come out of the shower sweaty. I have no idea how this happens, but no matter how cold the water is, if I go in sweating it is nearly impossible for me to tell if I am wet because of the shower or because of my sweat. Even after washing my hair and face I can taste sweat. I've realized waiting just a little bit cools me down and allows me to actually feel clean after a shower.
"Buried A Lie," Senses Fail
Sometimes that's not possible, though. Sometimes it is so hot that I just continue to sweat in my home while I wait to stop sweating. Or, back when I was still flirting with getting back in shape and working in an office, I would go to a YMCA in the morning and shower there afterwards. Looking back, I can't believe I actually did this. I would get up early (crazy part 1), pack a gym bag with clothes, towel, hair stuff etc. (crazy part 2), work out (crazy part 3) and then shower in communal showers with three or four senior citizens who did not give one flying fuck about flapping their birds around and chatting you up (crazy part ∞).
Apart from the weird communal nudity, the worst part was going right from the work out to the shower. I would not stop sweating the entire time and by the time I finished speed dressing, I was still covered in a sheen of sweat and heading off to court where I was greeted by pre-appearance small talk that usually went like "hot enough for ya, Big Guy?"
It wasn't long before I stopped going to the Y and quit my job.
"The Blue Channel," Taking Back Sunday
"My Favorite Mistake," Weston
Being back at the gym for the first time in a while was kind of exciting in a way; I saw all these familiar faces that belonged to strangers I totally forgot existed. It was like an episode of This Is Your Life for a recluse who spent the entirety of his people watching. Instead of wrestling with my brain to keep it from making my eyes look at the clock or doing song-related math, I floated back and forth seamlessly between just fucking make it stop and holy shit, that guy! There were times when I was miserable and then there were times when I only realized I was miserable after five minutes going down some thought rabbit hole about what the weird dude who always wears OR scrubs has been up to for the past couple months.
"This Heart's On Fire," Wolf Parade
"Almost Crimes," Broken Social Scene
I've realized, and come to terms with, that I will never get to a point where I go an entire run without thinking it's the worst thing ever at least once. If it didn't feel awful there wouldn't be a benefit to it. It's the same reason work is called "work" and not "totally awesome time where I do nothing and get money to spend on cool shit." There's no such thing as a free lunch or something. As long as you can make it so you don't think about it all the time, you'll be OK. Music helps. Running in a comfortable environment helps. Random people popping into and out of your viewfinder helps. Thinking up a stand-up routine that you'll never have the guts to try out helps. Almost anything can help making running better because running is the worst; the only place to go is up.