OK, we are back on a normal schedule now, I promise. Sort of. Maybe. I don't know. Can you ever really make a promise like that? I could die or, you know, win the lottery or something. Haha I'm just kidding, I would never waste money on things that aren't high-end electronics or food and drink. The upshot is: more borderline-psychotic "musings" about running. Let's go; here's a Spotify list to get the juices flowing.
"Boyfriend," Best Coast
It's no secret that I struggle with motivation. I even write a weekly column that depends on me running and still struggle with motivation. There are plenty of other perfectly reasonable motivating things about running, too, but I struggle anyway. Maybe you do, too. Maybe you've been told that "what you really need is to want it." I bet you have. I bet you wanted to throttle whoever told you that, too. Self help or whatever you want to call this cottage industry of motivational snake-oil salespeople is garbage. The people who tell you motivational things are just little weeds that pop up in the beautiful brick pathway that is your life, looking green and like a positive sign of life but really they are just assholes who are full of shit. So that's not the most fully developed analogy in history; you'll live. Anyway, these people are the people who say things like "All you need is to want it," with "it" being your goal. Or, "it's going to take some blood, sweat and tears."
No. These are gross oversimplifications. If all you needed was to "want it," you would be skinny, or chiseled or fluent in Spanish or whatever it is your particular goal is. The wanting part is literally the easiest and least important part of the whole thing. I want to be good at golf. I am fucking horrible at golf. I played golf with my father-in-law not too long ago and I wound up buying him like 36 new balls after 18 holes and I think I'm still in the red. That is how bad I am at golf despite my wanting to be good at it. Wanting something is worthless.
"Master Of Puppets," Metallica
As is this ridiculous idea of blood, sweat and tears being some kind of recipe for success. I get the metaphor. It's supposed to be "work." It's a grittier version of wanting it, basically, and it's equally as useless. Let's say you are a cutter who just recently broke up with your girlfriend in a sauna. Boom. Blood, sweat and tears. What have those excretions done for you? Fucking nothing, that's what. All they've done is transformed you from a mentally unstable person to a mentally unstable person who is now hot and iron deficient. Great work.
The lesson is: sayings are bullshit. Tony Robbins is bullshit. I want to run. I want to run quickly and efficiently and regularly. I have lost gallons of sweat, a bunch of blood and probably even some tears in my wanting of these things. I want to be skinny and look cool in tight clothes and to be physically fit but I have none of that. What little I do have is not because of some magical perspective I've found or the result of some buzz-word epiphany. It's because I just did the shit. That's a lot more boring than blood, sweat and tears, but it's also more accurate. Don't mistake this for a it-takes-hard-work spiel. It's only a little bit that; it's mostly managing expectations, though.
"Filler," Minor Threat
Telling a person all they need to reach their goals is to "want it" is intellectually-dishonest. It's clever, a sound byte. It is horse trading. Problem is, when a person decides that they want something and starts doing whatever it is he thinks he needs to do to get it, he gets discouraged. I wanted to play guitar. When I didn't play like Jimi Hendrix after a week, I gave up. I guarantee you there are tons of people out there trying to run or lose weight or whatever, who listened to these fucking talking muscles tell them they need to want something and found themselves ill-prepared for what wanting it actually meant.
You don't need to want it. You need to do it. You need to stop pretending that you aren't lazy and accept it. You need to accept that it will hurt, and not in the sexy, Hemingway-y blood-sweat-and-tears way, the it-hurts-to-walk-up-stairs way. You need help and support. You need to not get angry when your wife guilts you into running because you hadn't in a very long time. You need to think about wanting it and then punch yourself in the face for thinking it and then just start doing shit. Make yourself busy even when you don't want to be. Taking time off is the absolute worst thing you can do.
"MakeDamnSure," Taking Back Sunday
I should know, I am the king of creating seemingly untenable situations for myself and then landing on the side of "not doing anything." Like last week, I had a bachelor party. I wrote about it two weeks ago. It wasn't even a thing that was up for debate, whether I would run or not. It was a certainty that I wouldn't. Like any suggestion to the contrary was as though someone were telling me that the sky was down or that Coach was a dumb show to liveblog. These are obviously and inherently incorrect statements. I very easily could have run at some point that weekend. It's not like I would have been kicked out of the party if I went and ran or something. But that's how my mind works, conveniently.
Ain't Talkin' Bout Love," Van Halen
I was inactive for over a week, probably. Bad news. I finally got out of my funk and went outside and, I swear to God, as sneaker tread touched pavement a fucking bird shit on me. I tried to flick it off—this is really disgusting to me—and it was like gelatinous, or congealed or something. As I flicked it, it like folded on itself like the most horrifying omelet you can imagine. And then it got into like the cuticles of my fingernails. I am retching as I write. I eventually ripped a leaf off a tree and used it as bird-shit toilet paper and went on my way but, Christ, what a return.
"Crawl," Alkaline Trio
So my wife has bought a whole bunch of new running gear, including running skirts. They're just like bike shorts with a skirt over them. They're pretty sassy and she seems to like them. I'm on board. Apparently there is a sect out there that vehemently despises the entire notion of a running skirt. You can actually Google something about a running skirt debate. Anyway, some find it sexist and demeaning to women. Women shouldn't be objectified or Women shouldn't be sexualized while working out is the argument. To which I say Please shut up.
First of all, if I want to ogle women, I have the internet. I'm not going out to the gym and being all Mmm, mmm, mmm! Nothing like a sweaty-ass lady in a skirt. If that's what I wanted in a sexual experience, again, I have the internet. But more importantly, if you like it and it makes exercising fun for you, everything else is noise. This is a problem with Runners and in life, generally: people just take themselves way too seriously.
I realize I'm writing this whole long thing chastising people for taking themselves too seriously but, like, at this moment, someone is arguing or formulating an argument about the chauvinism behind running skirts. Now, I'm not saying that chauvinism doesn't exist or that women in sports (or just, you know, life) are not objectified more than their male counterparts. It does and they are. What I am saying is that it's not always about that. I find my wife attractive and athletic because she is those things, not because she's been told by society sexiness requires she show a little skin like, say, wearing a skirt while running and she therefore wears a skirt while running and I reward this behavior by acknowledging it and reinforcing for the both of us the notion that sexiness = skin.
"Woodson," The Get Up Kids
Sometimes people like to make otherwise-not-fun things fun. And sometimes people can only make otherwise-not-fun things just a little bit less not fun. If the whimsical idea of pairing a skirt with running does that for you, I say get nuts. If someone wants to read some kind of political statement into a person's coping mechanism they can go argue about it on the internet. Great.
The best part is that my wife actual takes the crazy up a notch. She's not concerned about the politics of sexualization. She's worried that Real Runners won't take her seriously because she's running in a skirt. This is a thing that weighs on her mind. Runners.
"People Of The Sun," Rage Against The Machine
I got new sneakers finally. I decided to go with a pair of New Balance 587s, which is a little strange because I used to wear those as just regular shoes because I thought they were cool looking. But I decided to give them a spin for their intended purpose. They're actually pretty good for running out on the trails. They have a solid base that lets you run without necessarily feeling every single twig and rock you go over. It's like a mountain-bike tire instead of a hipster-bike tire. I think I like it, but I'm also worried about them being clunkier than my last pair of sneakers and slowing me down. Well, not really slowing me down, more like prolonging things incrementally-yet-excruciatingly enough for me to notice and obsess over for the whole time I am running.
I thought maybe getting the sneakers would get me excited to run. You know, like when you get a new phone or computer and the first thing you do is play with it for hours. That didn't happen with the shoes. Weird. Good news, though: still not a Runner.
"Crazy On You," Heart
These next few songs are a real mixed bag. I don't really know what I was going for here, but they're all over the place.
"Keep On Loving You," REO Speedwagon
See what I mean? I think I should just use this section to once again reinforce my theory that I don't always listen to songs that are "good to run to," or whatever other description people use for songs that are fast-paced. I understand that a lot of these songs are unconventional for keeping pace while running, but that's not the reason they are used. My only criteria for picking songs is the songs ability to distract me from running. So, please don't yell at me about my selections and how you could never run to it. On the other hand, please do leave song suggestions in the comments. Always looking for new stuff to listen to.
"Black Gold," Soul Asylum
Fuck you, this song kicks ass.
"Love Hurts," Nazareth
God, I'm so sorry for this.
"Just Don't Say You Lost It," Hot Water Music
"Rascuache," At The Drive-In
Alright, so we're officially back! That was fun. It was a shaky week of running, but a week of running nonetheless. Things are about to get real for me—the half-marathon is November 9—which means they'll probably get fun for you.