If Fitness Isn't Your Thing, Bribe Yourself Into RunningS

Welcome back, after a week-long vacation, to the immature grumblings about the barest minimum a person could be physically active without travelling backwards through time and space. Here's a Spotify playlist; let's get to business.

"Lust For Life," Girls

Thanks to whatever's been going on with the weather, I've been able to run outside recently. It was an adjustment being back out there like that but also strangely (for me) exhilarating. So much so that I went into TOTAL FUCKING BEAST MODE and ran sub-nine-minute miles before cramping up and having to walk a few minutes at a time. But still! I was charged up, man. Reinvigorated. Outdoor running. No more crumby-ass sickeningly-sweet musky-smelling gym for a few days.

"Fade To Black," Metallica

It was a nice break from the desperation—and there is just no other word for it—of the treadmill. I think it's really contributed to me half-assing this training-for-nothing schedule I had to make for myself because I am a manchild incapable of just saying to himself Hey do this, pal. It's good for you. No. I need to, like, pseudo-guilt myself into things.

Jiminy Cricket: Aw, man, you're not gonna run today? It's written right there on that calendar and everything, though.

Me: Not now, man.

Jiminy: I'm just saying. You made the calendar. You said you'd run today for 4 miles. I'm just sayi—

Me: —I know! I can't today. It's....raining. I'll make it up tomorrow.

Jiminy: Listen. I don't want to tell you how to live your life but you're a bullshit artist and listening to you makes me sick to my goddamned stomach and I am otherwise pretty much the happiest cricket you will ever meet in your life. And now I am basically puking and crying because of you and you alone.

So thanks for that.

Me: [20 mins later, sweaty] Fucking asshole cricket.

"True Shred Guitar," Sleigh Bells

The fake training calendar didn't work. I was not following it to the letter like I did with the legitimate training calendar I had for the half-marathon. I have likewise not signed up for another race. So I've just been scuffling along keeping pace, but not really gaining any ground. Christ, like being on a treadmill. That is an annoying realization to just make right now. Anyway, I sort of blame my wife, because she said she was going to sign us up for a race and hasn't. I only sort of blame her though, because Mr. Cricket is in my ear calling me a bullshit artist again. And also because she had a stroke of genius the other day.

"I Remember You," Skid Row

She recently finished what she called "Dry in July": no booze for a month. We were talking about it and she asked if she thought I could do it. I said I could, but I'd never want to (pretty solid logic right there); I need real stakes for things like that. I wouldn't do it just to do it. Like, I need to earn something for giving up booze (or anything) for a month. For instance, the month before before my race in Florida I will go boozeless. I'll get into better shape and it will be a true celebration to break teetotaling afterwards. It will enhance the experience. I can sell that to myself. I can't sell Oh, I just won't drink for a random month just to see if I can do it. I have no interest in seeing if I can do things.

"Travel By Telephone," Rival Schools

So she took this outlook on life I have and applied it to my trouble motivating myself to run. I don't have a race looming (not entirely true, we will discuss below) so I've got nothing to shoot for. Until my wife said "You get under 200 pounds and we get a new TV."

"Shadows," Sunny Day Real Estate

Jack. Fucking. Pot. Fitness? Irrelevant. Personal records? Who cares. The satisfaction of having completed a task, no matter how trivial? [Wanking motion]. If you want me to do something, give me something I can use. I can't do anything with fitness or some PR on a race course. I can watch the shit out of my Blu-ray collection on a brand-spanking-new flatscreen plasma, though. Please, don't bother arguing with me the merits of plasma vis-à-vis LED, LCD or whatever other acronyms exist to describe a unit with inferior picture quality to the dank blackness and vibrant colors of a plasma screen. Do not waste my time with such nonsense; I will suffer none of it.

"Fight Song," The Appleseed Cast

This is a tangible goal that has me legitimately excited. Sure, it will be great to step on the scale and see 199. I will enjoy that. It will be a major life-accomplishment that took time, dedication and sacrifice. It will rival passing the bar in terms of my proudest moments. But it's not a fucking HDTV, man. Now, I already have an HDTV, but it's old. It's like 6 years old or something. Do you know how old that is in technology years? If dog years are 7 years, technology years are at least 20. Maybe a hundred, who can really know? Point is: there's been all kinds of advancements and improvements that I have not yet had the pleasure of observing because my TV is the dirt your grandparents are older than. But I will see those advancements, and I will see them soon. Mark my words.

The first thing that came to my mind was Can I safely lose 15 pounds in one month? Why? To have that brand new TV ready to rip for the beginning of football season.

"This Heart's On Fire," Wolf Parade

Speaking of, I can't tell you how excited I am for the seasons to turn and for late-September and early-October. It makes all the other northeast bullshit worth it for those few weeks. The NFL is back, playoff baseball is back and you can watch both while drinking outside during the day (there's windows with TVs near them, OK?) in short sleeves, long sleeves, a sweater, hoodie, pants, shorts—whatever you want. Heaven is a crisp October day spent not so much enjoying it but using it as the setting for enjoying everything else. It's like that HDTV. You're not in love with the actual rectangle on your wall, but what it allows to happen.

But still, you've got to run in the fall, too. It's just the way it goes. As my Dad is fond of recalling the words of his mother, too much of anything is good for nothing. You've got to sully up the perfect fall days so you can truly enjoy them and not take them for granted. So you run. The good news is it's so much better than running in the summer. All those things that make getting wasted and watching sports better also make running better. Weird coincidence, I guess.

"I Was Born A Unicorn," The Unicorns

You guys have songs/albums/artists that are season-specific? I have a whole slew of music that I always love listening to in the fall. Come September this thing is going to be chock full of Mineral and Texas is the Reason and Minus The Bear. It's going to be great. I'll listen to those bands any time, but they are like the Pumpkin Ale of music for me, best enjoyed from September to December. The only thing that worries me is a Pavlovian issue my brother mentioned the other day. If I keep using the music I like to do things I hate, I am going to wind up associating Sunny Day Real Estate with suffering. But, you know, not the self-wallowing kind like you're supposed to, the bad kind.

"Freak Out," Tapes 'n Tapes

"The Clod and the Pebble," Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin

Here's a pisser: I had this whole plan for the summer where I'd be sort of fine-tuning myself getting ready to really get down for the Disney Wine and Dine half marathon in November and turns out none of that happened. Turns out I did the fitness equivalent of moving shit from one side of the room to the other without ever cleaning it up for a couple months. And now the race has snuck up on me, and I should technically start training for it this week. Unfortunately I have a friend's bachelor party and there's as much a chance of me going to it and running as there is me not going to a party and getting totalled for a couple days with friends I haven't seen in months. That means there is zero chance, zero chance of either of those things ever happening. Sorry, training schedule, but you are going to have to wait until next week.

"Arcarsenal," At The Drive-In

"Turnpike Gates," Lifetime

These last two entries here were actually part of an experiment I tried. See, this whole playlist thing is sort of anti-everything-I-stand-for when it comes to listening to music. If I am just listening recreationally, I always prefer to listen to an entire album, cover-to-cover instead of making a playlist. It's an entire body of work, you know? You should consume it in the way it was meant to be consumed. But making a playlist seemed to make sense for running. I don't know why, the change in artist probably makes each three to four minute portion of the run seem new or something. Like mental signposts or mile markers. For a while there, I was getting bored of making the playlists, though. Especially since I didn't have a true dedicated long run each week.

So I decided to run to entire albums to see how it went (I just chose two songs I felt like listening to for the purposes of this playlist) and the results were startling. It was exactly the same as running to a playlist. Turns out, running is pretty much the worst no matter what you're listening to you. Look for the full findings in the New England Journal Of No Fucking Shit.

"Guernica," Brand New

The one thing I did enjoy is that feeling you get when the song you are expecting to follow actually does follow the song you just listened to. There is something soothing about that that you don't get from a playlist or listening to an album on shuffle. It can sometimes even be jarring when you expect it to happen and it doesn't. I doubt I will stop making playlists, though, now that I'll be back on the half-marathon training schedule. One of the things I really looked forward to each week and got me through it all was making that long-run playlist.

So, I'll be running a half-marathon in 13 weeks or whatever it is and I am essentially the same person both mentally and physically that I was when I nearly shit myself back in April. I have fine-tuned nothing and will basically be starting from scratch all over again with the added bonus of actually knowing how long it takes to run nine miles, let alone 13.

This was not the plan. This was not the thing, this was not supposed to be the thing.