We've got a short playlist this week for a couple of reasons. First, I am at the very beginning of a new training schedule, so we're starting slow at three miles. Second, one of the songs was 16-minutes long. You're going to hate it. Here we go! A Spotify playlist can be found here, and the rest starts now.
"The Dead Flag Blues," Godspeed You! Black Emperor
I conducted a little experiment this week to see if this sort of crescendo rock (or whatever you'd like to call it) is good for something more than just getting all twizzed out and ranting about the government or close-watching old episodes of The Twilight Zone. Short answer: yes. Long Answer: Well, I'll tell you.
First of all, I always thought this song would be a perfect opener for The Road when I was reading it. I haven't seen the Viggo movie, but I hope they used it. Just listen to the bugged out soliloquy from a Native American, quoted below:
The car is on fire, and there's no driver at the wheel
And the sewers are all muddied with a thousand lonely suicides
And a dark wind blows
The government is corrupt
And we're on so many drugs
With the radio on and the curtains drawn
We're trapped in the belly of this horrible machine
And the machine is bleeding to death
The sun has fallen down
And the billboards are all leering
And the flags are all dead at the top of their poles
It went like this:
The buildings tumbled in on themselves
Mothers clutching babies
Picked through the rubble
And pulled out their hair
The skyline was beautiful on fire
All twisted metal stretching upwards
Everything washed in a thin orange haze
I said, "Kiss me, you're beautiful -
These are truly the last days"
You grabbed my hand
And we fell into it
Like a daydream
Or a fever
Ready to run?! Seriously, though, I actually had a great run thanks to this song. I should point out it is 16-plus minutes and has many slow, low-volume portions. If this offends you, or you think it is a poor song to run to because of whatever reason, please allow me to list all the ways in which I do not care one fucking bit about your thoughts on the running-appropriateness of this song:
Now, once you get past whatever bullshit fear of long, orchestral songs you might have, you realize this song (and its ilk) just might be the perfect song for running. I ran to this song through the wooden trails and it felt like a soundtrack. Not Oh, I'm running to music played through my headphones, but instead it felt like the music was playing from the trees. I felt detached from the music—while also clearly listening to it—which let me just sort of enjoy my surroundings. I got into that zone where you don't really think about anything which rarely, if ever, happens for me. It was similar to running to music (because I was) but it also allowed me to just clear my head. Instead of half-paying attention to both the music and running and then being shaken every three minutes from whatever mini-reverie that might be, I really felt like I was just running in my own little world with something on in the background. Like falling asleep with the TV on or something.
A song like this is an auditory allegory for running in the first place. There is no instant gratification here; the payoff is all the way at the end. The pressure builds and builds and builds and then, the deluge. It's kind of like peeing for the first time after holding it for a long car ride. Or how I imagine the female orgasm to feel. Running, of course, does not deliver near the same pleasure as orgasming—or peeing for that matter—but the mechanics are the same. Satisfaction (results) come at the end, after you've put the work in.
Also great: by the time the song was finished I was half-way done. Once again, that is literally the only thing I care about. I should run a seminar like Frank T.J. Mackay. Setting Jealousy Traps, followed by How to Pretend Like This Run Is Not Taking Forever.
"If It's Here When We Get Back It's Ours," Texas Is The Reason
It's been kind of amazing to see how much routine matters. I definitely got out of the habit of testing and forcing myself to run more, so it's funny to see how difficult a three mile run can be again. There was a time when three miles felt like an off day. I'm not sure if that's because I knew I'd be running 10 miles later in the week so, mentally, it was a comfort to only do three, or if it was a matter of conditioning. It was probably both, I guess. God that's annoying. Why can't there ever be one easy answer to a question?
I ran into my mailman the other day and for whatever reason we haven't really seen much of each other recently. (I'm just going to mention here that he is, like, the exact opposite of the fabled neither-snow-nor-rain-nor-heat-nor-gloom-of-night letter carrier and whenever there is any kind of precipitation we just will not get mail. The next nice day our mailbox will be stuffed with shit.) Anyway, so we saw each other outside and chatted for the first time and he mentioned that I lost weight. "Eating lots of vegetables?" he asked. And I said it was both diet and exercise. Which is totally true and totally annoying because it's that not-one-easy-answer thing again. I know if I hadn't done both I wouldn't have had the success I did because that's what I'm doing now. I totally stopped following the Weight Watchers rules and thought I was responsible enough to toe the line myself.
M. Night Shyamalan: [Writing furiously] Yes. Yes, and then he starts running and exercising. He changes his life. He signs up for a half-marathon.
M. Night Shyamalan: [Thinking, scratches head. Looks wistfully at picture of himself and Bruce Willis laughing] Conflict. We need conflict. But what? Yes! He achieves his goal. He rewards himself. He stumbles. And now for the trademark M. Night Moves—a twist! But what?
M. Night Shyamalan: [Alternatingly thinking and writing furiously.]
M. Night Shyamalan: [Writing furiously. Scratches everything out, rips paper off pad, crumples up and throws in trash. A beat, then, an epiphany.] YES!
M. Night Shyamalan: [talking while writing] "He....thi...nks...he...can...be....disci...plined...enough...to...keep...track...of....his...diet...himself." Wait'll the fucks at the Academy get a load of this.
"Planetary," Rainer Maria
So,yeah, I totally stopped watching what I ate and I plateaued. I even gained some because I wasn't running as much. And I also stopped weighing myself. If you remember Drew's Public Humiliation Diet on Twitter, it really is so true, at least for bigger guys like myself: you gotta weigh yourself every day. It's like a constant reminder not to fuck up and also provides constant encouragement if you're doing things right. But you have to physically step on the scale every day. Otherwise, once you skip one day it becomes that much easier to not do it the next day. The human brain—at least mine, anyway—is basically that one guy at your office who will shirk whatever duties anyone lets him get away with. That guy is the worst and you've got to be on his ass 24/7, because he's figured out the system enough so that he won't get fired.
(Getting fired in this analogy is dying of 17 different comorbidities, bee tee dubs.)
"Inspire," Cave In
Running through these trails in my neighborhood, there are sometimes these pockets of air and light that you run through that feel warmer than the rest of the shaded path. It's a lot like swimming through someone's urine in the ocean. Except not a fucking disgusting reminder that some people lack whatever the tiniest measurement imaginable is—a shred, an iota, a fucking modicum—of common decency and just piss for all the world to swim through. My dog can keep herself from pissing in places she's not supposed to piss in for hours at time. Think about that the next time you "can't hold it" long enough to get to the bathroom, you animals.
Sorry. Anyway. The warm air pockets. It's weird, I guess it just has to be a break in the canopy allowing for the sun to shine through, but I always like to pretend the sensation is, like, concentrated oxygen. Like I just ran through actual, tangible evidence (apart from me breathing and not being dead) of oxygen being pumped out of the surrounding trees. It's like a thicker feeling to the air and those areas just sort of pulse when you go through them. It's probably just the sun hitting me for a brief second, but this is what I think about when I'm running: filthy animals pissing in the ocean and drive-thru oxygen factories.
I mentioned all the way at the beginning that I'm on a new schedule. It took me for-ev-er to get it set up. For whatever reason my real-life schedule is all over the place this fall and in order to optimize running, working and making sure Sunday was a fairly open day for watching football, it took some figuring out. My long run is somewhere in the middle of the week, Wednesday, I think and Saturday and Sundays are both light days because I'll either be working or watching football all day. It's kind of a weird, not-quite-intuitive set up, but I'm hoping it works out. Specifically, Sundays, I will actually be running. So if I am going to a Jets game, which I will be doing, I am going to have to run before. But that just makes partying at the tailgate all the more acceptable.
I figure Sundays will be my reward day, which is kind of annoying since I'll actually have to work out on my reward days, but it's like a two mile run or something every week. Shouldn't be too bad. Then it's a shower, maybe a shower-beer and pure football all day. I can work with that.
I do want to try to be as faithful as possible to it because even though every single training schedule out there says it's ok to swap days here and there if you need to, I don't think they're aware of who they're dealing with sometimes. I live on a treacherous mountain and I have skis for feet. I can turn anything into a slippery slope. Oh, shoot, Sean, you had to switch Tuesday's workout with Thursday's? It's OK, you'll be fine. We'll be fine. Oh, don't worry about skipping that, it's just cross-training, you don't nee—YOU SKIPPED THREE WEEKS OF MOVING FROM YOUR CHAIR. WHATISWRONGWITHYOU?
I've got an excuse for everything and I'm prepared to use all of 'em at a moment's notice. So I try to limit the moments, otherwise it's only a matter of time before it's all over.