I’ve taken up running. The news elicits jubilation from other seasoned runners and quizzical looks from non-runners. (Plus some WTF?! faces when I run in minus-15 degree weather.) What started as a New Year’s resolution-y thing has become a bit of an obsession with me. I am proud that I lasted the entire ten weeks of the Running Room’s Learn to Run program and finished a 5K last week, but signing up for a 10K that’s only a month-and-a-half away may be a little too optimistic. But I’m going to try.
I started running to stay in shape and lose a few extra pounds. Said pounds are taking an e – x – t – r – e – m – e – l – y s – l – o – w time to come off because of my metabolism slowing down in my older age (gah!), but I do notice an overall slimming-down effect happening. I’m also more alert and clear-headed.
I chose running over other activities because I hate the gym. Now you may think that “hate” is a strong word to use, and you would be totally wrong. I really do hate it. I hate the routine of it, the waiting, the wiping down of equipment, the stink of other people’s body odor and the monthly payments that continue to be added to your credit card long after you stopped going. Running is great cardio – it gets you outside and you don’t have to wait for the asshat who won’t get off the damn treadmill (and who doesn’t wipe it down after his sweat shower).
I’m still a novice and I am trying to find the perfect stride for me. But I can impart some advice to those who are ready to run.
You will not look pretty or handsome running. You can buy the nicest running clothes on the market but at the end of a good run, you will be a flushed, sniveling, sweaty, panting mess. But a happy flushed, sniveling, sweaty, panting mess.
Sports bras are a necessary evil. They are not sexy and will smoosh your girls into a uniboob. But at least your breasts won’t hit you in the face.
Eat sensibly. The burger and fries you ate for lunch will still be in your body when you go for an evening run – you don’t want to tote that shit around (literally). Eat light on days you are running. I prefer a Carnation instant breakfast before a run – light on the stomach but filling and nutritious.
Run in the mornings. Get it out of the way, because if you are prone to laziness, as I am, it’s harder to get off the couch at the end of a work day than it is getting out of bed an extra 30 minutes in the morning.
Do it with strangers. Join a running club – your leader will motivate you to run and teach you proper form and care. You also don’t feel like a freak when you know other people in your group are getting shin splints and side cramps.
Take it easy and slow. Moderation is the key. Alternate one minute of running with one minute of walking; each week, add another minute of running. Build up endurance first before going for speed.
Stretch it out. After a run, take a good 30 minutes to stretch. Do this if you don’t want to be a walking stiff for the next few days.
Splurge on good quality running gear. Invest in some key pieces for all types of weather, especially socks. Stay away from cotton and move towards synthetic fabrics that whisk sweat away from your body, keeping you dry and cool. Running clothes may be expensive, but if you treat them well, they’ll last you a long time. And the right shoes make all the difference. Go to the Running Room or New Balance – their reps can fit you with a pair that’s right for your gait.
Have some good tunes on hand. I like a little Ramones to end my run – their songs are short enough for you to sprint towards the finish line. (But please be mindful of your surroundings – keep the volume low and your eyes alert.)
My friend Jen received this letter from a suitor on OKStupid. (Thanks for sharing!) It’s all I can do to keep the bile down. Is he looking for a date or does he want to rescue a princess?
Gentleman, no woman falls for this shit. Unless she has hundreds of stuffed animals on her bed, has read every Harlequin romance novel ever published and has been planning her wedding since she was five.
Oh heavenly blessed beauty, whose inner beauty is simply divine and everlasting, I would love to be your knight in shining armor. If you want to talk to a good friend, honest, sweet and tender, you can do with me at any moment, I am a good person, kind, loyal and sincere. My friendship that I offer you is clean and transparent. I congratulate to you, because you are very beautiful. your beauty, your charming figure, your pleasant and angelical smile, your personality, your happiness, your charm, your kindness, your beautiful eyes, your lips soft and exquisite, your delicate hands, your precious legs, spectacular and divine body, you have all these qualities and more. You are a wonderful and perfect woman, your gaze is tender and sweet, penetrating my soul. The beauty of a rose has no comparison with the sweetness of your face and the beauty of your heart. I am of the people, I like to have a good relationship with all my friends.
The Dire Straits song “Money for Nothing” was banned from Canadian radio by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC), who ruled that “the song violates the industry’s code of ethics because the lyrics include the word “faggot” three times.” This comes on the heels of the recent sanitizing of the Mark Twain classic The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
I was 16 years old when “Money for Nothing” was released in the summer of 1985. I wasn’t a huge Dire Straits fan, but I liked the song because it was catchy and the video was ground-breaking at the time. I don’t remember much ado being made about the word “faggot” being used; back then, in my high school, the word was part of the vernacular, often thrown about as an insult between teenage boys (a few of whom I’m sure have come out by now).
I was recently going through my old high-school journals and noticed that I used the term “fag” twice. It was disconcerting, to say the least, but that was close to thirty years ago. I didn’t know better back then; I was the product of my Catholic upbringing and homophobic high-school environment, where homosexuality was considered a sin. Guys who wore make-up (except those in new-wave or heavy-metal bands) or were even slightly less than the masculine ideal were called “fags”. (Which is ironic given that this and this were considered macho back then.) Twenty-five years have given me a perspective and an intelligence that one can never have as a teenager.
I now understand how terms like “faggot” can be painful to hear for some people. Over time, I’ve become a little sensitive to songs and videos that hint at misogynism. While I bop my head to Jay Z’s “99 Problems”, I cringe over the line “and a bitch ain’t one”. I struggled with with “Under My Thumb” by the Rolling Stones until I started thinking that the lyrics don’t necessarily have to be about all women. Even my beloved Beatles recorded a song, “Run for Your Life”, that had the lyric “I’d rather see you dead, little girl, than to be with another man…” It’s a conflict I deal with occassionally. Because the alternative – stop listening to popular music altogether – is simply not an option for me.
What I do is put everything into perspective. I consider the context surrounding the song. Back then, “Run For Your Life” may not have raised many eyebrows at the time – but it would certainly raise a furor now. And to me that shows how far we’ve come. Also, the song is not indicative of their entire creative output – the Beatles didn’t have a catalogue of songs dedicated to women-bashing. And lastly, the lyrics may be highly personal or reflective of the writer’s experience at the time. This same logic applies to “Money For Nothing”. (It’s also interesting to note the etymology behind the Dire Straits song: the lyrics are based on the comments of a real delivery man.)
Censorship is a slippery slope. You ban one song, you open the door to more. What about songs that use literary devices to make a point – do we ban those because some people don’t get the concept of irony? And how far back do we go? And when does it stop? When our airwaves are filled with non-threatening pap like Justin Bieber? “Baby, baby, baby” – God help us.
Instead of censoring and banning, let’s educate and empower. Music can be a powerful mirror – it can reflect things in society we don’t necessarily wish to see. It may also make us uncomfortable. But it there’s a song that incites bigotry or hatred of a specific group, let’s use that to start a discourse, let’s use it to enact change. Because no matter how hard we try to sweep something under a rug, it will still be there.
But the hullabaloo over the CBSC decision may be moot. Who actually listens to commercial radio anymore?