A weekly look at the iPod of a regular dude trying to run himself out of an early grave.
Anything crazy happen in the running world this week? Nah? Just your run-of-the-mill week of unremarkable running? Great. Now, let's continue our suspension of disbelief and share some anecdotes, some laughs, and some tunes. Here, have a playlist.
"November Rain," Guns N' Roses
I was actually on my weekly long run when the Marathon bombing happened. I got back, sat on my stoop and looked at my phone for the first time in an hour and 45 minutes and saw all kinds of crazy texts, emails, and tweets. Like everyone else, I became gradually obsessed by it all. Call it disaster porn or whatever you like, but it's somehow comforting to feel like you know what's happening, even though no one knows what is happening. You can focus on absorbing as much information about the event as possible, instead of processing the event.
I've only done two actual races at this point, but it's remarkable how nice all the spectators are to runners. They cheer for you as you run by and yell messages of support. It sounds cheesy as hell, but it turns out it's the best feeling. They don't have to do any of that stuff, but they do. They have this understanding, whether from personal experience or by proxy, that what you are doing is awful. So they try to help you out. I was shocked by how much I didn't hate it. That these people were the ones most affected by the bombs is just shitty. There is no other word. That Jeff Bauman had to ID the guy who blew off his legs while he waited for his girlfriend to finish a marathon is a level of shittiness I cannot fully imagine.
"The Artist In The Ambulance," Thrice
Anyway, back to real problems. I got mauled by a dog the other day while running in the trails. This dog, along with the dog's owner, is notorious. It's a fairly large and rambunctious golden retriever that has clearly not had one bit of training whatsoever. I take my dog for walks, off the leash, in the same trails all the time. I worked relatively hard to train her to respond to things like "come" and "stay" and "no!" You know, like normal dog owners do. Still, when we come upon people or other dogs in the park, I put her back on the leash just in case. People get freaked out by dogs; I get it. This guy just lets the dog run around with the leash still attached to the dog. Most of the time, he's not even within sight of the dog.
So I saw this dog (sans owner) and thought "fuck, he's going to run up and jump on me." Kind of annoying, but whatever. He did. I pushed him away. I finally saw the owner. The dog jumped up again and I pushed him away again. I'm still running, by the way, which I soon learn is a mistake. The stupid dog's leash that his worthless owner leaves on wrapped around my ankle and tripped me up. I spilled all over the trails, headphones flew one way, phone flew out of my pocket. I was so pissed and such a passive-aggressive dick to the owner when he finally showed up, but I don't care. I should have yelled at his dog, but it's not the dog's fault. This is a dog who I watched urinate on a little girl's leg in the dog run and his owner did nothing. No control, no discipline. Maybe hang on to the leash, if that's the only way you can control your animal. And, Jesus Christ, apologize to that girl for the dog urine on her pants.
"Bulls on Parade," Rage Against The Machine
It feels ludicrous to talk about how shitty my long run was this week, but I didn't know what was going on at the time. I ran 10 miles on Monday. About halfway through I had basically resigned myself to failure. I was coming up to a big hill in the 'hood and I was just done. I actually started walking up the hill, thinking I would just walk home. But then I thought to myself, let me just run up the hill and get to the end of the road and maybe do six miles. And then I just kept going. It was pretty great. I will absolutely take any opportunity to be lazy, but it's nice to know that when I give myself the chance to do something, I can do it. I'm going to try to remember to give myself that chance more often; no matter how awful it sounds, it eventually ends and you can look back and say "fuck you, running. I beat you."
"The Mending of the Gown," Sunset Rubdown
"Richard II," Titus Andronicus
Part of my problem in running and in life in general is that I am an enormous procrastinator–so much so that I eventually became an enormous person who also procrastinates. In college I would write 20-page papers the night before they were due. I am incapable of doing anything unless I hear that Final Jeopardy music. That's why I don't run until about 5:00 p.m., and only after having spent the entire day thinking about how awful it's going to be. I could just as easily get up in the morning, get my run in and enjoy the rest of my day, but I'm totally incapable of that kind of discipline. It's how I got to be in such rough shape. "Oh, I can get back in shape next year," I'd tell myself. Next year! I had that thought multiple years, too. Putting things off in year-long intervals is how you wind up on the wrong side of 30 and the wrong side of obesity.
It's Friday and I am writing this, so I have sort of given up on ever becoming someone who doesn't procrastinate, but the first step is admitting you have a problem.
"Writing It Down For You," Pop Unkown
"Is This Love?," Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
I did this procrastinating-a-run thing just the other day. And in waiting until 5:00 p.m., I also wasted the really nice weather. By the time I got around to running the sun had gone in, the clouds had come out, and it looked like rain. I hate running in bad weather, so I was leery, but I had to do it. I made it through most of the run unharmed except for some wind gusts, until the final mile.
Then it started to rain. And it...was...awesome.
"Welcome Home," Coheed And Cambria
This song was actually playing when the rain started, and it was incredible. Rain makes everything more dramatic. It was like being in a movie where you are racing across an empty field to do battle with the enemy. A widescreen shot of all the troops, running at each other, close up on you, water beading up on your face as you give the least amount of shit possible.
Or maybe you are running home in the pouring rain to prevent Rachel Bilson from walking out of your life forever. Maybe she's giving you just one last chance and if you don't get to her soon you're going to have blown the only chance at true love and a long, fulfilling life traveling the world making tens of babies with Rachel Bilson.
Either way, running in the rain: not terrible.
"This Charming Man," Death Cab For Cutie
I like this version better than The Smiths' version. Fight me.
"Bringing on the Heartbreak," Def Leppard
"I'm Shipping Up to Boston," Dropkick Murphys
Not kidding, this was on my most recent long run playlist. I hate this song. I was going for some sort of reverse psychology, hatred-as-motivation thing here and I wound up just skipping it. You've gotten a lot of leeway from me this week, Boston, but this is where I draw the line. I cannot endorse this song.
"Just Don't Say You Lost It," Hot Water Music
My life is overrun by magazines, mostly of the celebrity gossip and fitness variety. The stories, for the most part, are the same–like "Beyoncé Spills All On How She Got Her Post-Baby Bod!"–in which Beyoncé talks about how she ate one grape on a heap of straw every three days and did Tae-bo-llroom dancing 17 times a day. That same article always forgets to mention that Beyonce's job is basically to look attractive. I mean, she does other shit, naturally, but her main job is to look good while doing all of the other stuff. Her entire bank account is predicated on not being a fat, disgusting slob. Sure, there are outliers to this celebrity formula, but for the most part if you're not good-looking, you can't do all that other stuff. Working out isn't something Beyoncé does after work. It is the work. Don't try to be all "You, Too, Can Have A Body Like This In Just 8 Easy Steps." It's one easy step: you need to not do anything but work out for a living to look that good that fast.
"Hey Joe," Jimi Hendrix
This is sort of the slow-witted cousin to procrastination, but I also have a terrible habit of making excuses for everything. I only became truly aware of this a few years ago, but when I did, my God, what a revelation. Every single time I didn't do something, there was a perfectly reasoned explanation in my mind. "Ah, yeah, see I was sick last week and so I got kind of backed up with everything. Really threw me off." If you just read that, or heard me say it once you would have no idea what I was excusing, just that I had excused it. And that was the point. Even stuff I say here, like, "Oh, I don't run outside in the cold because ice, snow...injuries, etc..." It makes perfect sense to me, but they are all excuses. There's nothing preventing me from running outside in the cold except me. That is the definition of an excuse.
I even had excuses for never working out. Ready for this doozy? it was because I was too out of shape. In my mind I turned myself into this sympathetic character who needed protection. I did not want to be the fat guy in the gym struggling on the treadmill. So I did not go to the gym and struggle on the treadmill. It still makes absolute sense to me, even now. It was an actual fear and an actual embarrassment that I felt, but what are you supposed to do with that? Not going to the gym wouldn't alleviate that shame, it just allowed me to avoid confronting it. It was an excuse.
"June Hymn," The Decemberists
And the fact remains, I should have been embarrassed. And I should be embarrassed that it's taken this long to get my act together. Because as soon as I broke down and went to the gym and wheezed and grunted my way through walking—walking!—briskly for, like 15 minutes, each successive trip felt less and less shameful. Eventually, I realized that no one gives a shit about me. When you acknowledge that everyone else is dealing with their own stuff, you can finally get over yourself.
"Party Hard," Andrew W.K.
"How Deep Is Your Love," John Frusciante
Ever since I had that disastrous 13-mile dry run after tapering according to the training schedule I found, I've been having a really hard time staying motivated. As I type this, I realize that this is a fucking excuse and I am doing it again. Whatever! It's true. I've been all screwed up since then and my runs have just felt impossible, no matter the distance. I ran four miles on Friday and I damn near quit on mile two. I had to fight myself just to finish. Most of the time that internal struggle is pretty much rationalization/excuse-making countered by me calling bullshit on myself.
Excuse-Maker: Ah, shit. This is hard. Whaddya say we pack it in today and really smoke it tomorrow?
Bullshit-Caller: Are you kidding me? You're already out here; just finish what you've started. Then you can enjoy the satisfaction of not being a loser.
Excuse-Maker: That is true. But! That dog could have really injured you. Maybe it was a sign, you know?
Excuse-Maker: Look, I gotta do things the way I gotta do 'em. Alright? I think I would be much better prepared if I spread these runs out, come to think of it. I just ran five miles yesterday.
Bullshit-Caller: Stop. Just stop it, you baby.
Excuse-Maker: Hear me out! If I spread 'em out, then I get the benefit of rest, but not too much rest, like before with all that tapering.
Bullshit-Caller: I will murder you.
"Irish Car Bomb," Hot Rod Circuit
Yeah, this is a song about smoking, but it's a really kick-ass song about smoking. This was the very first song I thought of when I first downloaded the Nike+ app and they asked for a "power song" to play when you needed a little jolt. It's also named after an alcoholic beverage associated with binge drinking. So it's really a great way to motivate yourself at the very end of a serious workout: a driving beat and thoughts of undoing everything you just did to improve yourself with some serious partying.