Welcome back to Recovering Fatass Soundtrack, where talk about running, music and, this week, how old people are the worst. I went full albums again this week (with some randos sprinkled in to make up the time), which is why I've organized some as "Band, Album." A full album is kind of like an instrumental in that it all flows together and even though the songs are separate entities, they kind of serve as movements within one large piece of music. Or at least some albums, anyway.
Explosions In The Sky, How Strange Innocence
I forgot what the long runs were like. For the longest time I had been running three, four mile runs and not really pushing it much further than that. This week, my long run was six miles, which isn't a half-marathon, but it was still out of my current comfort zone. It felt kind of alright.
I had forgotten that feeling you get in your legs after the long run. Soreness, but a good soreness. It feels like you've actually used your legs for once and really let them flex without the training wheels of what's familiar. The soreness lasts for a couple days, too, but it's alright. It's nice to be reminded that there's a benefit to running for an hour. That's what that kind of soreness is (I'm led to believe) after all. Your muscles have been pushed and improved upon. Like how you only improve at basketball by playing someone who is better than you.
"Greet Death," Explosions In The Sky
It's different than the soreness you get when you pull or tweak something. Then it feels like every movement is a chore and you're recoiling or protecting yourself from further injury. The soreness on Thursday after a Wednesday long run, though, is your muscles taking that deep sigh before conking out after a long day at work. Or maybe it's not different at all and your mind just rewards your feeling of accomplishment with something tangible. I've no idea, all I know is, I forgot what it was like to do something I hadn't done before (or in this case, in a while) and it was refreshing.
It was murder while I was doing it, naturally, but once it passes, it passes.
I ran in some unexplored (for me) territory this week and it's sort of giving me a little incentive to not flake out on each successive long run as they get incrementally longer. For a long time now, I have constrained myself to one specific area of the Old Croton Aqueduct trail, because I've known it for a while and it's safe (as in, I am familiar with it and it is therefore not scary and unknown. Not, like, safe as in free from danger—hobos are an ever-present danger. One must always be vigilant). But it is kind of limiting in that my familiar route is only 3.5 miles. I'm not running that in a loop four times to get my long runs in. It's nice and pretty and all, but fuck that noise.
So I stretched it out and explored more of the trail as it snakes further north. It goes on forever, too, which is nice. I ran to a spot and doubled back once I knew I would have my full 6 miles covered on the way home. I cheated a bit here, because the place where I stopped connects with a road that would take me back to my house in a loop, making it unnecessary to retrace my steps. But. There is an absolute monster hill that way, one I wanted nothing to do with. So, I touched my final sign post of the day and turned around and retread the familiar. I'm looking forward to doing this each week and making gradual progress on the map, like an Indiana Jones transitional scene.
Incidentally, the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail is gorgeous and stretches for (natch) 26.2 miles into Westchester. Parts of the aqueduct itself are still visible on the trail, it's pretty cool. (My wife has been telling me about this for years and I'm just now learning about it so I am being forced to add this parenthetical note for clarification's sake.)
Mineral, The Power of Failing
That was fun and mildly interesting, yes? I hope so, anyway, since things are now going to get ugly because of this article. This article. Sweet motherhumping Christ, this article. The headline is: "The Slowest Generation." I bet you can't guess where this one is going. The upshot is this: us youngins with our trophies for everyone and internets and easy living don't care to run fast like the vaunted baby boomers that Toms Brokaw and Hanks made a fortune sucking off.
If I am allowed, a slight tangent: Tom Hanks, this fucking fraud. I blame Forrest Gump, an altogether decent film, for creating the monster that is now Tom Hanks, National Treasure. He made Gump and got a taste for the historical fiction and went on to make Apollo 13, Saving Private Ryan, Band Of Brothers and all of a sudden he's at the fucking dedication for the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C. On the dais! He was on the dais while some sad sack actual veteran looked up from the crowd at the fucking guy from Turner & Hooch gladhanding with Steven Speilberg (!!!) and George W. Bush. Seriously, Tom Hanks was in so many horrible, horrible films and it all gets wiped away because he was In Saving Private Ryan and then got all we have to remember the veterans about it. No shit we have to remember the veterans. Maybe let them get in front of the bright lights, Tom. I will not forget. The greatest generation, sure, but fuck this guy.
OK, that was cathartic, but there is actually a point to all the Hanks hate. The baby boomers sacrificed plenty and World War II was a mess. No one can argue otherwise. But, old people, man. Their whole back in my day routine is so self-congratulatory and stupid it make me want to punch myself in the face. And Hanks tapped into this sentiment and still pops up every now and then, enabling this behavior. Case in point, here we have some guy in the The Wall Street Journal, your father-in-law's paper of record, telling us that runners back in his day ran faster. Seriously, that is the entire thesis of this article.
They're just not very fast. "There's not as many super-competitive athletes today as when the baby boomers were in their 20s and 30s," said Ryan Lamppa, spokesman for Running USA, an industry-funded research group. While noting the health benefits that endurance racing confers regardless of pace, Lamppa—a 54-year-old competitive runner—said, "Many new runners come from a mind-set where everyone gets a medal and it's good enough just to finish."
Actual paragraph that was published in a paper everyone has heard of. Someone also made a crack about watching The Wire too much. We might as well all be running in our underwear in our mothers' basements.
But instead of fighting back, the young increasingly are thumbing their nose at the very concept of racing. Among some, it simply isn't cool, an idea hilariously illustrated in a 2007 YouTube Video called the Hipster Olympics.
I am being trolled. There is no other justification for this paragraph's existence other than to cause a blood clot in my brain and carry me away forever.
"Do," Do Make Say Think
Here's a few alternative theories to the youngsters-don't-wanna-run-fast-anymore shit-strewn wall. Professional sports are big businesses, and professional athletes are now paid millions of dollars to be athletic. You don't see any New York Yankees running shitty bowling alleys anymore because they need to make a few bucks in the offseason. It is possible for young football, basketball, hockey and, christ, even soccer players now to make millions of dollars playing an actual sport that is fun to play. So, maybe instead of working some regular job and being athletic on the side, a greater percentage of that segment of the exceptionally athletic population with no practical use for that prowess, other than their own satisfaction, are no longer doing dumb things for free like running really far, really fast. That's not a lack of motivation, or a dearth of incentives. That's capitalism.
Or how about this? Your Greatest Generation's continued existence on this planet is sapping the life and money out of our generation. While you lived in a time of ridiculous prosperity that may have allowed for leisure activities like endurance running, maybe we're a little tired from coming home from work with a tiny check (made tinier by paying into a system from which we'll never see a dime) to pay our mortgages on both our homes and educations while also dealing with an aging population that simply refuses to die (I firmly believe this is why everyone and their uncle has cancer. Science has found a way to cheat death, or at least lose him in traffic for a bit, and he is pissed about it).
"Mykonos," Fleet Foxes
Or, and this is just a crazy idea that came to me: maybe things like this go in cycles—booms and busts, say—and we are currently riding out a bust only to emerge even stronger. Surely you're familiar. But really, no one knows why younger people are apparently running slower. Is it because older people are the worst and are living longer? Probably not. But if there's a youthful response to the romanticization of the Hurr, we did things the right way back in my day and these young kids have no respect or discipline school of thought that every person infatuated with his or her own legacy seems to have, it's that old people are the worst.
Seriously, read that article and tell me it doesn't make you roll your eyes like you did while listening to some relative talk about walking to school uphill in the snow. Anyway, to take what appears to be empirical data and reduce it to kids these days is lazier than watching The Wire all day.