Sometimes You Run The Dog; Sometimes You're The Dog Who Needs Running

My wife's butt is quickly pulling away. My dog's tail, though already small to begin with, looks like a peppercorn in the salad green of the forest. And I am hydroplaning through the muck of the trails. It is raining, I am running and I am hungover. Fuck.

"A Pot In Which To Piss," Titus Andronicus

As I watch the rear ends of my two lady friends put more and more distance between us, I begin to question the life decisions that have brought me to this exact moment in time. But first, I begin to cramp up and I realize it's because the only liquid in my body is the Dewars I drank the night before, which is currently leaking through my pores.


Back to the life decisions. Small-picture sense: I felt like I should run because I hadn't run all that much to that point in the week and the idea of mixing it up in the trails through the rain and mud with my family kind of sounded fun.

Why hello, nice to meet you. My name is Pollyanna.


"You Can Take The Boy Out Of Bradenton," Hot Water Music

Big-picture sense: I need to run to reclaim my life from the smothering size-48 pants it had been in. If I was just a regular dude who also ran, I could totally skip running the day when a frigging El Derecho, or whatever the hell it is that was going on out there, hits. But I am not a regular dude who also runs. I aspire to someday be a regular dude who also runs, but for the time being I am a recovering fatass. I write a running/playlist column that forces me to run because I need compulsion (here is your Spotify playlist, by the way).

I don't mean that to sound punishing or masochistic or anything, though it kind of is to an extent. It's more...I don't get the luxury to say "I'll do it tomorrow." I've been saying "I'll do it tomorrow" my entire adult life and all that did was most certainly shorten it.

"Morning Glory," Oasis

So I ran in the miserable rain and through the horrible, squelching turf. Before I start patting myself on the back for being a real go-getter, I should note both for you, dear reader, and definitely for me, you idiot, that there is no way in hell that happens without my wife. If, say, my wife was working that day, the dog and I are not going for a run by ourselves in the fucking rain. Who does that?! Crazy people. Crazy people run in the rain for fun. If it's just me and the dog and it's raining we are hanging out nice and dry in the house and maybe watching a film. Or screwing around on Twitter/sleeping. Running in the rain is just not happening.

"Sleep Now In The Fire," Rage Against The Machine

There are a few ways of looking at this. One, I am clearly still the same general person who wore pant four feet in circumference, only with slightly-less-lazy tendencies. That's something to work on. Two, I am clearly not a psychopathic Runner. Which I am going to go ahead and toss in the "pro" column. Three, help is good and you should accept/invite it.

I never, ever would have run outside in that rain, yet I am sitting here right now writing this with dried mud caked to my legs. My wife got my ass out of the house and ran me for three miles. It was like I was her dog and she was exercising me. And that is OK by me. I need all the help I can get. I have this terrible habit in general where I kind of hate the idea of things but once I am actually doing them, I find that I am having a lot of fun. It could be something as simple as going to the movies or something more active like going on a bike ride through the Bronx. My wife does this for me and I won't go so far as to say that I had fun running in the rain, but, like, I didn't die or anything and I got a run out of the way.

"Everything's Okay," Reggie & The Full Effect

I'll tell you what I really hated about this run, though, is that I was wearing white socks. I feel like such a geek wearing white socks for some reason. Black ankle socks or bust is my philosophy. Laundry had piled up and I guess I used up all my black socks so I had to grab the white ones and, ugh, if you ever want to feel like a 45-year-old dad who looks like he got lost on his way back from local hobby shop (Do they still have hobby shops? Maybe? Doesn't matter, just go with it.) just wear yourself some white socks and sneakers. Luckily, by the end of the run they were basically black anyway, so I felt less shame.

"I Can't Win," The Strokes

What made this run harder than others was not really the rain but the track. There's a lot of lateral moving when you're running off-road, so to speak, because there are rocks, roots, low-hanging branches and all other kinds of things like hobo camps that make running in a straight line virtually impossible. Add to that giant rain puddles or soggy, quicksand-like mud and the run more closely resembles a tire drill than a leisurely jog. Which is to say, it's harder than a regular run because you are doing more than running. You're keeping an eye out for obstacles and then evading those obstacles all while running.

That's where the treadmill wins. You just set a pace and go about your business. No obstacles, no skip-running, just one foot in front of the other. On the other hand, there are no fallen trees in your path for you to jump over or off of like an action hero so, you know, it's probably a wash.

"Ghost Man On Third," Taking Back Sunday

There was no playlist and thus no headphones on that particular run since I was experiencing life with my ladies, but for an earlier run this week I had to use my wife's headphones because she had the car, which contained my headphones. My headphones are great—they are the wrap-around ones with little ear cushions and everything. I would say they are practically perfect. My wife's headphones are basically the gremlin from a Bugs Bunny cartoon.

"You Shook Me," Led Zeppelin

They are the kind that are like a headband with little earbuds that stick in your ears. Though they never stick in properly, especially when you're running and they stick in your ears. I don't know how it became, like, a commonly accepted variant to personal music consumption that we stick things in our ears instead of around them, but there you have it, it's here and some people swear by it. I wore these stupid things and it was the most unwelcome distraction ever. I was constantly fidgeting with them to get them to stay in one place and the worst thing is, it doesn't even work well. I could accept this whole sticking things inside my ears if it, you know, drastically improved the sound quality but it is actually worse. Much, much worse. Like, you hear the air passing over the plastic buds as you run and so it's like you are listening to music in an active wind tunnel. Stupid. Stop making these ridiculous headphones.

"The Hound (Of Blood And Rank)," Coheed & Cambria

"The Magic Bullet Theory," Texas Is The Reason

I came out to my parents' house at the end of the week for a couple of reasons: the laundry is free it was Father's Day. OK, that is basically the reason. But there are other benefits, too. I get to sit on the deck and drink beers with my dad and talk about how these guys are really screwing A-Rod, you know? They all say it's a bad contract, but you know what? They weren't getting 4 million people in there the year before they got A-Rod, I'll tell you that much. We'd be there on a Saturday and a good saturday was 25,000. They only sold out for the Mets and the Red Sox. So you can't tell me that's a bad contract, they made out alright on that deal*.

Also, more germane to our purposes here, it is much flatter out there and makes for easier runs. And after your run, you can take an outdoor shower.

I've run into a lot of people who seem puzzled by the concept of an outdoor shower and think it's basically a hose hanging off the roof and you just wash your kibbles and bits in the wide open. That's obviously not the case; this is Long Island, not Appalachia. The outdoor shower is a fully functional shower with shower head and knobs and everything, in an enclosed structure from the neck down. From the neck up, however, are wide open skies, trees, bird and—basically it is a Bob Ross painting, but you are also showering. It is wonderful.

"Lilly, Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts," Bob Dylan

The truly day-altering part of it is that you are forced to look up. You don't see all the shackles of human existence: cars, homes, patio furniture, that stupid baseball you are going to turn your ankle on on your way out. You just see the world. Every once in a while some bees may come around to just remind you that they are the goddamned worst, but otherwise it is one of the most tranquil settings I can think of. You are literally washing the filth off as you look out on nature as it was intended. I highly recommend it.

"The Patron Saint Of Liars And Fakes," Fall Out Boy

It's almost like you have to run just so you can fully enjoy the shower. So, run I did and it was pretty not-horrible. Since it's so flat out there, there's no slogging up hills and feeling shame as cars, bikes and old ladies with the walkers with tennis balls for feet pass you. It was also gorgeous out finally. After what seemed like a month's worth of rain and wind and grey skies, it was blue and green and crisp. Just ideal running conditions. Which, is a lot like saying "nice day for a funeral," but it's true, there could be worse days for a funeral. Since it was the end of the week the landscapers were out, too, cutting grass for the rich city folk who come out to their weekend playgrounds. Man, I love that smell. Reminds me of being a kid and running around when running around was fun. (I'm talking about the grass, not the filthy stench of excessive wealth.)

"Blister," Jimmy Eat World

My wife went for a run on the beach while we were out there, too. I did not because I was hungover (again) and running on the beach is for lunatics. It all looks like fun and games if you've only ever see that scene in Rocky III, but it's not fun. It's murder. It's Ivan Drago standing over Apollo one film later, muttering If he dies, he dies. Your feet sink six inches into the sand and instead of propelling you off like pavement or some dirt track, the sand works against you, pulling you back (my copy-editor wife would like me to mention here that I have never actually run on the beach so I don't know what I'm talking about. To which I respond: I have walked on the beach and I can extrapolate its murderousness from that). Maybe it's better if you have webbed feet like a retrieving dog, but I missed out on that particular genetic development so I'd just as soon not run where the environment is actively working against you. I already provide plenty of resistance myself, thanks.

"The Crane Wife 1 & 2," The Decemberists

I put this song last so it timed up with the end of my run before its long, meandering outro went on for minutes. The meat of the song ended so I just hit stop.

*I wholeheartedly agree.