Summer is technically here and that means being outdoors is to be officially avoided if you are a large, sweaty person. It was another week of split time between the treadmill and trail running, but I’m preparing myself for the reality of a completely treadmill-based existence for the next three months or so. I’ll still try to run outside when I can, but that heat can go jump off a cliff. Here’s your playlist for the week.
“Six Days At The Bottom Of The Ocean,” Explosions In The Sky
Just as I was beginning to think it wasn’t as bad as I remembered it, some woman two ‘mills down from me started loudly talking on the phone. I mean, loudly. I’m not sure if you guys have picked up on this yet, but I listen to music while I work out. Most of the music I listen to is what old(er) people refer to as “loud” and “noise.”
Nevertheless I could totally follow along with this woman’s conversation—somebody’s Aunt was supposed to pick somebody up from somewhere and didn’t and then the dry cleaner fucked up someone’s suit and hey, Mary, my head is starting to feel weird. Like a lot of pressure on my templ[head explodes] [two ‘mills down, I relax death grip on hand rails, collapse from strain].
“25 Cent Giraffes,” Lifetime
Oh, how I wish. Seriously, though, what is the goddamned point of walking on the treadmill and talking on the phone? Those are honestly two of my least favorite things to do in the world. The only way I would enjoy talking on the phone is if I was having a conversation with someone at New York Lotto who just told me I won $250 million billion. Only way. I would sooner grow 16 extra nipples and have them all get bloody and raw from working out and shower before talking on the phone and working out at the same time. And this woman is doing it and is crazy loud and right next to me. Three of my least favorite things in the world!
My crazy-Runner wife always says if you can talk without being short of breath, you are not working out hard enough. I now agree. If only to prevent this stupid lady from being next to me and talking loud enough that I can hear her stupid conversation over a Lifetime song that I have jacked the volume up to its max. Stop wasting your time and double-ruining mine.
“Copper And Stars,” Planes Mistaken For Stars
Back when I was first toying around with getting back in shape, I thought it would be a good idea if my wife became a personal trainer of sorts. Do you see the sitcom unfolding before your eyes? Good. It went horribly. I am definitely the sort who does not want to appear weak, so in that sense, it definitely helped. I pushed myself more in front of her than I would have alone.
Alternatively, she would say things like “One minute left. OK! Anyone can do anything for 60 seconds.” and I would want to throw up on her face. I don’t respond well to those, like, inspirational quotes or whatever you want to call them. All I see are 60 items that need to disappear and they are not disappearing as fast as I need them to. I would respond well to something like “you’re gonna eat lightning and crap thunder,” though, because it sounds cool. Keep it abstract and mildly nonsensical, personal trainers.
“Theme From ‘Cheers’,” Titus Andronicus
In addition to serving as my occasional-personal trainer, my wife is also my conscience because I am a fucking child with virtually no will-power. This usually works out pretty well for me since she helps keep me in line. It’s not that she nags me or anything like some dumb sitcom wife, it’s more “when the cat’s away, the mice will play.” When she’s around, I behave. But when she’s gone, like she was this week, I turn into Cliff Huxtable. Only, instead of hoagies and soda, it’s big-ass steaks and beers.
“Monsoon,” Trail Of Dead
“Insistor,” Tapes ‘n Tapes
I binged so hard while she was gone, it’s really kind of pathetic when you think about it. I still ran and stuff, which was almost miraculous, but I also indulged so much more than I normally would. I went to the supermarket and it was almost like I was a guy telling a racist joke. I looked around to see if anyone was watching and—bam!—ribeye steak, six packs of beer and potato chips all found their way into my cart while anything healthy was seemingly banished to the phantom zone. The problem is, I am much dumber than Cliff Huxtable since my wife reads these random musings. Hi, toots! [runs away]
“Obsolete,” Saves The Day
I still have not had a run longer than five miles since my race. I’m kind of concerned because I do eventually have to run another race and I don’t have the luxury of not knowing how awful it is this time. When I was first training these long runs were just abstractions. I didn’t really know what running, say, nine miles was like. So when it came time to run nine miles, I just had this vague feeling that it would probably be terrible. Now I know for an honest-to-god fact that running nine miles is the absolute worst thing in the world, only to be surpassed by running 10 miles.
“Say It Ain’t So,” Weezer
And that scares the crap out of me. It’s probably kept me from re-booting or whatever and I am currently just treading water here now with three, four and five mile runs. My go-to run is now four miles instead of three, and I am definitely an Anything Is Better Than Nothingist, but it is a mess trying to push yourself to do something you know sucks. I’m no longer some fat guy who thinks he knows what he’s getting into but in fact has no clue what he’s getting into. I am now a less fat guy who knows exactly what he’s about to get into and there are no good options. I either get fat again or I have to keep running harder and longer. I just want to take the fork.
“At Least That’s What You Said,” Wilco
Despite all the questioning and doubting myself, I am still able to find the good in things. On the whole, I think I am a pretty optimistic person. I don’t think that says anything particularly great about me; things are much easier when they are positive. It is, I’ve found, much, much easier to trick yourself into thinking everything’s alright than acknowledging things are shitty. It’s why people say things like “Oh, I’m big-boned.”
You have three options: you’re either big-boned, so disgustingly fat that you have to sweat off pounds stat or so disgustingly fat that you need to sweat off pound stat but you do nothing, slowly killing yourself and, in time, your cat because only a cat would want to live with you and don’t worry, even though you are now more organism bursting forth from your couch than you are a human being, the cat will most certainly outlive you only to die feasting on your corpse/scotch-guarded fabric.
Options two and three ain’t pretty. So, you tell yourself you’re big-boned.
“Bleeder,” Alkaline Trio
But optimism can also be good. For example, after my runs, I will often sit on my stoop, collect myself, look at the stats on my app and listen to some music without moving, which is nice. I may have mentioned before that I sweat a lot. Well, that does not exclude my ass. My ass sweats maybe more than my armpits. When I come back and sit down on the stoop, I leave a mark. A sweat mark that looks like my ass. I noticed the other day that the sweat mark I left was much smaller than it used to be. This brightened my day probably more than it should have. I even told my wife. I don’t know, I was proud; I wanted people to know about it because the implication is, in case you were wondering, that my actual ass has gotten smaller and is therefore leaving a smaller sweat mark because there is less of it to be covered in sweat and then make contact with the stoop. My wife didn’t seem as enthralled with my pretty scientific inferences as I was; maybe I’ll put it in my twitter bio.
Doer of things. Bourbon. Doer of other stuff, too. Maker of smaller ass-sweat marks relative to previous ass-sweat marks. Opinions are my own.
“The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows,” Brand New
That’s something, though, isn’t it? Like old clothes fitting again, or feeling like you are swimming in clothes that used to fit you well. My ass-sweat mark is smaller. I am no longer ashamed of my ass-sweat mark for reasons apart from a potential sweating problem. This is where optimism can help you. It keeps you moving forward. You don’t want to go back to a point in time where you felt shame for so many things, even an amorphous blob’s temporary footprint on some slab of rock. Shame can be absolutely paralyzing until you just accept it and move past it. Then it becomes, if not outright motivation, then at least a cautionary tale. Don’t walk through that door, you know what happens there.
I was out with my brother the other night and one of his buddies was talking about the Tough Mudder stuff, which I always had a vague idea of and dismissed as weird and kind of stupid. I always just thought it was an obstacle course type race and who in the hell wants to run 12 miles and jump over walls and through waist-high mud puddles? Oh, it’s an obstacle course, it’ll be fun. Just like when we were kids.
Please cut the fucking shit.
It won’t be fun, because you’re going to be tired from running. Because you made a decision to pay money so you could run and also play through an obstacle course. Running and obstacle courses were fun as a kid because those things happened organically because kids are basically dogs and that kind of stuff is entertaining for them.
“Victory,” The Walkmen
The more I heard this guy talk about the Tough Mudder, the more I felt confident I had correctly discounted this thing as a fad. And crazy dangerous, too. He mentioned an obstacle called the Arctic Enema and another where you run/swim/die through electrically charged water.
Here’s the thing. Growing up, I was always told to avoid electricity because it can kill you. It’s one of those weird things that has stuck with me my entire life because I value living. So, while I’m sure, for legal reasons, the charges running through those waters you’ve got to trudge through while dog-tired from running long distance and being arcticly-blasted up your anus are not deadly, I am straight as a fucking arrow with being fucking electrocuted in water while running. I saw Tango And Cash; I’m good.
“We Built Another World,” Wolf Parade
Sometimes I feel bad that I am not a thrill seeker, but then I think about people willingly signing up to participate in an even that includes something called an Arctic Enema and I realized that I’m perfectly happy being a dumpy guy trying to get (and remain) less dumby by occasionally running and eating better than he had before. My excitement comes from other things like sports, movies, a fine-ish wine and hanging out my wife and dog. Physical fitness is just the way I’m trying to stick around longer to enjoy them.