40% More Bouncy

I’m thinking of creating a new running program: C25S. Couch to 5hin Splints. 

My friends, my shins, informed me that the run yesterday was a little too much. A wrap on each shin for a few hours did them some wonders, but I really can’t be doing this between every run. Neither can I buy new shoes, what with the next paycheck already spoken for. Nor can I keep repeating the light runs from the C25k week one program, as I did yesterday amid splint scare 2013.

The run yesterday felt good, in that it felt right. It was worth it. Even knowing I was going to be standing around at a concert that evening.

Incidentally, check out Dustin Wong who opened for the Dodos. Never have I seen a crowd so entranced by an opening act, nor have I often seen someone seem so genuinely surprised by the response to his work. The man is brilliant.

 

Which is when a friend clued me in to Dr. Scholl’s Active Series. They claim to absorb shock by 40%, which should allow me to run 40% further before my shins complain (spoiler alert: I am not great with numbers). In installing them, I noticed how flimsy the insoles were in my current pair of shoes. Paper-thin for the most part, granted I have already started running in them, but they didn’t inspire confidence. 

I will have to wait until Monday to find out whether they will suffice. My hope is that they will at least carry me through the next paycheck. I can already–yes, I am wearing them while I write, what of it?–feel some parts of my feet being supported differently. A little more comfortably, I might say. 

Monday, we’ll see how it goes when I restart C25k’s Week 2 programming.

The Fraud in Gym Shorts

“Shin splints sick.”

Swype, apprently not a fan of mild cursing, mangles the IM I’m sending while walking the Chestnut Hill Reservoir track yesterday, so I hastily shoot a correction: “Suck.”

My friend concurs. I take another quarter of the track and explain myself. Because of the shin splints I developed Monday, I spent Wednesday’s trip around the track walking. However, I showed up to the track prepared to run: I was in my loose running shorts, wearing my inexpensive running shoes, and equipped with my TuneBelt (which I have just emptied to fiddle with my phone while walking).

And I feel like a fraud.

As other runners zoom past me, some solo, some in pairs, I resolutely stride around the track, trying to keep my pace brisk. I feel as though they’re all wondering why I’m there, why I’m dressed for running and just walking. I try to tune it out, and by the end of the manage to–well, I take off the TuneBelt and feel less weird about the whole thing.

I had experienced something like this feeling before: A few months ago, I was in a car crash. The result of which was a totaled, beloved 2008 Mazda 3, and a decent case of whiplash. A week or two after the crash, I was in considerably less pain, but still left a little weakened by the experience; as evidenced by my attempt to go for a walk in the Arnold Arboretum, a short walk from my previous apartment. I made it about 10 minutes before my shoulder started to feel numb. Turned around and went home.

Shin splints and whiplash are similar in that someone suffering from either condition may look and feel otherwise healthy. In fact, as I took to the track yesterday, I kept thinking about running for just one 60-second interval. A short, sharp pain would register from one leg, and remind me that could be a bad idea. It’s a betrayal by one’s own body, and one that leaves you feeling a little helpless and pathetic. 

After confessing my shame to my friend, over Facebook IM, he says something that shakes me out of the shame a little. After the good-natured ribbing that is common to interactions between members of my sex, he tosses out “That rules, though. Good for you.” 

I felt a bit less of a fraud.

 

The British Esquire site ran an article, dated August 28(?), 2013, entitled “How To Not Hate Running.” Raises a lot of great points, and a few I may simply not understand yet. Loath as I am to argue with someone from the future, I often find myself feeling competitive with the other people on the track when I run. I also would argue that music as a background works for some people–despite the writer, Adam Baidwai’s insistence that running be done without a phone. 

However, this passage jumps out at me

“Deep in the mind’s eye, running is a sweat-stained horror. Sole pounding on pavement, force and shock zigzagging up rapidly dulling shins and knees, face turning an angry, bloated red—and all just to wobble another metre forward.

It’s sweaty, it’s itchy, it’s miserable.”

Running is still this, in my mind, but it is becoming more.

It is becoming a way to challenge myself, and to challenge my perceptions of myself. I am apparently a better, faster, stronger runner than I thought I was; and if I’m wrong about that, what else am I wrong about? 

One thing I’m likely very wrong about is the other runners. They are probably as preoccupied with their own running as I am with mine, when I am not resting my shins. 

 

Shin Status: Feeling fine. Will stretch them to test them during the day. Pending those results, tomorrow may be another walk, or a return to a previous session on the C25k Program (I plan to restart week 2 next week). 

Belts and Splints

On the one hand, I got a TuneBelt to keep my phone in while I run, and it arrived. 

On the other, I may have to give my legs a break tomorrow instead of going out for my run. 

 

A “splint,” in my mind, is a piece of medical equipment, or something else acting as a piece of medical equipment. So, when you get one on your shin, that shouldn’t be a bad thing. 

Well, I’m learning that that’s a crock. I think I have shin splints. Could be because I started C25k week 2 this week, and my legs and I aren’t quite prepared for it. Could be my $30 Champion running shoes from Target. 

My friend informs me that it may be the latter, and that I should go to a running store and have myself fitted for a new pair. However, I may need to hold off on that until I get paid again. Does seem a shame to ditch the shoes I got, cheap as they are, but I do need to make sure I can actually run. We (my legs and I) will give it some rest and go from there.

 

What I do know is this: I’ll be walking the circuit tomorrow. 

Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

One of my professors told my class about a visit renowned author Stephen King made to his classroom, in which one of the students asked a question all writers hate: Where do you get your ideas. 

Without missing a beat, King replied, “Utica. Next question?”

 

Inspiration is a funny thing. We think of the “flash of inspiration,” the sudden appearance of the Muse, who places a writer in a trance and brings them into “the zone.” For writers who get into that place, good on ’em. But, for the rest of us, it occurs to me that it’s something a little different.

Speaking from my own experiences, an inspiration is more like a splinter. 

An idea or image gets caught in the filter trap of your mind. Something that seems innocuous at first–the light hits a tree branch the right way, or you make a passing joke to someone at a liquor store, or you feel some warmth for the first time after talking to a long-lost friend. Then you go about your business, and the moment passes.

The idea then gets caught in your mind like a splinter. It starts driving you a little mad, as you can’t quite get it out–you know there’s something there, but you’re not quite certain how to use it. It comes and goes, sometimes getting caught on other things as you go about life.

Then, the moment of inspiration hits: you finally manage to work that splinter-shaped idea out of your head, and you find a use for it. It’s freeing, in a way, once it’s on paper. 

Inspiration isn’t something that happens, it’s something you have to work on. There really isn’t a flashy, sexy or interesting explanation: ideas just happen.

Achievement Unlocked: Finish C25k Week One

Didn’t realize I had it in me.

Seriously, I had no idea I could run. I thought it was just beyond my capabilities–something I can do in small bursts, all the while hoping no one is trying to kill me at the very moment my stamina runs out. What I’m saying is: I’ve surprised myself.

I expected more pain. The soreness in my ass is more or less gone–strange, as I ran despite an ache yesterday. I expected to feel like a military academy after each run.  I expected to hate it more. I expected to feel winded–to get the cold, breathless sensation moving down my throat as I exert myself just a little too far. I expected a lot of bad things from this, and so far, I’m surprised as to how wrong my impression of running was.

It feels like running is a mutant superpower that had been lying dormant in me for years. Finally coming to the surface now that I am ready to learn to control it–control it here meaning “actually try it.”

That said, I still wouldn’t claim to love it. Nor am I making grand plans to run in the upcoming Boston Marathon. I am enjoying the sense of direction it provides. In a way, I’m building something. As with most construction in a city like Boston, building something means tearing something else down. In order to do that, I’m having to tear down my own assumptions about my abilities.

Of course, next week gets harder. We’ll see how I feel about it come Monday evening.

Fading Preconceptions

My shoes looked strangely pale when I picked them up today. I have grown accustomed to their colors, using them mostly indoors for my 5 minute cardio routine.

It took me a few seconds to realize that it wasn’t from taking them out in the sunlight–Sun-fading being a fate befalling many of my more sedentary possessions–but from the dust of the track. This is something new to me.

As is the sensation that I’d rather be running. Perhaps it’s me losing interest in the event I’m attending in my capacity as a member of the press, or perhaps I’m actually enjoying running despite myself. I’m finding myself impressed by how well I’m handing it, I apparently didn’t realize o had it in me.

Either way, I’m looking forward to sticking through the couch to 5k program I started this week. Looking forward enough that I took a few idle minutes (journalism, as I have learned in my three years, involves a lot of sitting around, waiting for something to happen) at this event to hammer out a blog post and buy the RunDouble C25k program.

Pain in the Glutes

[Edit: This post was supposed to appear here on my Running blog, the Unsure Runner, but I accidentally posted it on my random thoughts blog. Whoops! Originally written in the evening after my run on Sept 18. 3:45 p.m., Sept 19]

I held my phone in one hand, waiting–dreading–the vibration that would signal the inevitable beginning of my second day running. I had decided to wait until I arrived at the reservoir to start the workout, rather than start as I left my house. It’s a 15-ish minute walk, with a wide intersection to cross.

I woke this morning with a pain in my ass. By which I mean, my glutes were sore. I had forgotten something I should know by now: it usually takes my muscles a day to start complaining. I was dreading how my body would take the second set. I was regretting wearing black, as the noontime Boston sun hung overheat and beat over me. I was regretting not eating lunch–my food tracker app, LoseIt! informed me that after the run, I would have burned more calories than I had consumed today. As the hill to the reservoir running track looms ahead of me, I see a number of reasons to not to run lie before me.

But, I am already here.

The buzz of the phone. The little voice in my headphones tells me to start running.

Standing on the other side of it, I think I feel the same way about running as I do about the T. I appreciate that the MBTA gets me to a destination, and I swear by it to get around within the city. However, there is little more fun to me–and my fellow Bostonians–than complaining about our public transit. It may just be more popular than the Red Sox.

When I got home, again, didn’t feel awful: I was hungry, to be sure; I was sweaty, and in desperate need of a shower; but overall, I didn’t feel terrible. I didn’t feel like a military academy, as I had expected.

Looking back, as I hopped in the shower, I realized I spent this one without looking at my phone. On my Monday foray, I checked the RunDouble app toward the end of a few of the repetitions to see how much longer until I could start walking again. Today, I didn’t–actually, I found myself estimating points I would pass at the end of the 60-second running interval.

I guess, Friday, I’ll be back.

Pain in the Glutes

[Edit: This post was supposed to appear on my Running blog, the Unsure Runner. Whoops! 3:45 p.m., Sept 19]

I held my phone in one hand, waiting–dreading–the vibration that would signal the inevitable beginning of my second day running. I had decided to wait until I arrived at the reservoir to start the workout, rather than start as I left my house. It’s a 15-ish minute walk, with a wide intersection to cross.

I woke this morning with a pain in my ass. By which I mean, my glutes were sore. I had forgotten something I should know by now: it usually takes my muscles a day to start complaining. I was dreading how my body would take the second set. I was regretting wearing black, as the noontime Boston sun hung overheat and beat over me. I was regretting not eating lunch–my food tracker app, LoseIt! informed me that after the run, I would have burned more calories than I had consumed today. As the hill to the reservoir running track looms ahead of me, I see a number of reasons to not to run lie before me.

But, I am already here.

The buzz of the phone. The little voice in my headphones tells me to start running.

Standing on the other side of it, I think I feel the same way about running as I do about the T. I appreciate that the MBTA gets me to a destination, and I swear by it to get around within the city. However, there is little more fun to me–and my fellow Bostonians–than complaining about our public transit. It may just be more popular than the Red Sox.

When I got home, again, didn’t feel awful: I was hungry, to be sure; I was sweaty, and in desperate need of a shower; but overall, I didn’t feel terrible. I didn’t feel like a military academy, as I had expected.

Looking back, as I hopped in the shower, I realized I spent this one without looking at my phone. On my Monday foray, I checked the RunDouble app toward the end of a few of the repetitions to see how much longer until I could start walking again. Today, I didn’t–actually, I found myself estimating points I would pass at the end of the 60-second running interval.

I guess, Friday, I’ll be back.

Why Zombies Know More about The Millennial Generation than Joel Stein

In the last week or so, I have seen a number of people–friends of my own age–posting a piece about why Millennials are unhappy. The piece rubbed me the wrong way from the start, in part because a) I’m not unhappy and b) it oversimplifies the problems and the solutions.

Then a couple of months ago, Millennials were informed that LEED certifications and free-range strawberries aren’t going to fix the economy. This from a man who refers to us as the “Guilty Generation,” because our rampant volunteerism is clearly derived from a sense of guilt that we feel. Andy Kessler, however, suffers from a serious condition we Millennials call “having one’s head up one’s ass.”

Fact is: the authors of those pieces, and others writing about us, know very little about us.

 

In Joel Stein’s cover piece for Time magazine, he labeled the Millennial generation (kids born in the mid- to late-80s to about the year 2000) as the “Me Me Me Generation.” Putting on our heads not only the dismissive title of “Most Narcissitic” but also the duty of saving whoever “us all” is. We are not superheroes. We are probably not even the world-changing heroes we still see ourselves as. But, we are the kinds of people you would want next to you in a full-scale zombie apocalypse.

Thus far, the bulk of the writing I have seen about Millennials has been done by people of Generation X or older; most of it negative, some simply condescending (I appreciate the sentiment, Trace Moore of The Jezebel, but I don’t really need a pat on the head to know the New York Times doesn’t really know me). So, I have put myself in a position many of my fellow Millennials find uncomfortable: talking about myself.

We can take a moment for that last line to sink in; it is largely intended to fly in the face of Stein’s piece, although in the context of Facebook and Twitter–which I will get to in a few short paragraphs, it may seem entirely absurd. My hypothesis is that Stein and many of the other seeming anti-Millennial writers are looking at the whole thing wrong. At the end of the day, most of the people writing about Millennials are really looking to the wrong places to figure us out. I would suggest, as an alternative, one of the places we grew up: The TV.

 

The HBO show “Girls” has Lena Dunham in a place she seems uncomfortable being: the voice of a generation. We are equally uncomfortable being defined by a program on premium cable, i.e., a program many of us don’t watch. In the same way, I feel somewhat uncomfortable standing up to speak for as varied and diverse a group as the Millennials, but I’m more annoyed now than I am shy.

Now, to Stein’s credit, there are hard numbers and science to back his claims up; Kessler, on the other hand, needs neither facts nor figures to back up his opinion-editorial. I may be more in the anecdotal evidence category myself, but I have something unique to the discussion: I am in fact a Millennial. At the same time, I will leave that to other experts, such as the Atlantic’s Elspeth Reeve, who points out that every generation has been called selfish at some point. I will, however, do my best to provide what good anecdotal evidence can provide: context.

One understands a culture best, I believe, by looking at its monsters. Bram Stoker’s Dracula was a classic example of the Victorian fear of becoming overcome by one’s passions (we do, perhaps, over-characterize them as a sexless generation, although to call them starchy, at least according to my reading, is fair). The vampire has not aged extremely well, and I don’t believe Stephanie Mayer did them any favors with her saga. But, I don’t believe they are the relevant monster for our generation. I think that, and you may already have guessed where this is going, that title goes to the humble, shuffling zombie.

With the massive success of “The Walking Dead,” and the recurring hordes-of-undead motif in a lot of pop culture media, I think it’s fair to say zombies are the “in” horror. On their own, however, an individual zombie is not much of a threat: It takes just one shot to the head, or a well-placed decapitating blow to disarm one–as any aficionado of the genre will tell you. However, get a mass of them together, and they are a force to be reckoned with. The strength of the Zombie is in its numbers; the strength of the zombie survivor is in his/her individual skills and ability to work together. To put the metaphor simply: that which Millennials fear is conformity, and what we pride is individuality.

 

That is the thesis I’ll be working from, so I those already feeling this is tl;dr (too long; didn’t read) can probably skip to the end. I will pause and acknowledge that not only that point above, but also the schlocky/cult film aspect to zombies which makes them appeal not only to Millennials, but to Gen Xers and other generations. I am not claiming the zombie movie for Millennials, only saying really that people who write them probably know us better than Time or the New York Times.

We know the difference between reality and fiction, which is why there wasn’t a spike in suburban car thieves after the release of the “Grand Theft Auto” series, but television, film and video games help us understand more complex issues–we learn from the mistakes and experiences of fictional people as easily as those in our lives.

In “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” the Enterprise crew encounters a race that speaks in metaphors, in an episode entitled “Darmok“. While watching it, I had flashbacks to talking with my mother, making references, and her becoming frustrated by them; I also started to understand how it felt going the other way. In the same way, there is a seeming divide between us and some of the older generations who simply don’t “get” us. These are the same generations trying really hard to analyze us from afar, rather than sitting down to understand us as equals.

The fear of being another face in the crowd pushes us to do something with our lives. We have seen the slackers of Generation X, and we want to be like them, but more successful versions of them. We have both adopted their mindset, and rejected it. It is not enough to do something that you love, you have to try and do something.

As a generation, we came of age at about the same time as the internet. Facebook was becoming a thing (i.e., household name) at around the same time many of us were starting college or finishing high school. We also live in an age where TiVo and DVR are not only available, they are nearly standard in most houses (in fact, visiting relatives without the technology seems like a trip to the past). The internet turns cats and candid photos into celebrities, and anything we want is immediately available, at our fingertips.

Now we are faced with this immense human advancement, the information superhighway–to borrow a now-outdated term–is our domain. We are still trying to figure out how we fit into it, while companies are still trying to figure out how to make money from us. But we are not standing on the edge of it, shouting into the void “I am an individual, respect me for me!” We are in the middle of it, looking at each other through our Facebook and Twitter posts. While my profile may be a shrine to my wit and the things I like, it’s not for my benefit, it’s for my friends and family.

It is a question of convenience: it’s faster for me to post one update all of my friends can see than it is to call all of them and let them know individually how I’m doing. About a month ago I was in a car crash. I posted photos to Facebook, and had well-wishing comments from people I haven’t heard from in years. Many of my close friends called or texted within hours to make sure I was alright. Even people I rarely interact with on the social network were reaching out to check in on me. That said, I wasn’t posting to say “poor me,” I was posting to say “hey, so this happened, but I am well enough to post about it on Facebook.”

Through the Marathon Bombing and following manhunt, we similarly found that Twitter and police scanners were a more reliable resource for information than the traditional news media.

Our world has grown far beyond what we can see–I have friends I have never met, and have had a couple of romantic relationships that started that way. For one of the first times, we are seeing not only the extent to which we fit into the massive global puzzle, but that we have some influence on it. Is it narcissistic? I prefer to think of us as connected, self-aware, and justifiably worried about our place in the future.

We are still young, and the idealism still hasn’t been beaten out of us by disillusioning waves of politics and circumstance. We are mocked for our “slacktivism,” as we change Facebook profile pictures to support whatever is the latest cause–but we see it as taking a public stand, solidarity. I thought of my Facebook friends from the church I left, in part disagreeing with their views on gay marriage, as I switched to The Oatmeal’s bacon equality logo; I wanted them to know where I stood on marriage equality as it faced down the supreme court.

I would go as far as to say that we should stop criticizing Millennials for their idealism, and start criticizing Baby Boomers for their lack thereof. Why is it a bad thing to want the world to be a better place than it is? Why should we stop fighting for some impossible utopia? We may not live in ourselves, but we can leave a legacy behind.

 

We are still very much living in the world of the Baby Boomers (how many Millennials are in Congress?)

It would be cliche to say we are still finding our place in the world, even if true. It may be more accurate to say that the reams of writing about the Millennial generation are more indicative of the world trying to find its place for us. In the same way institutions like the print media are trying to find a place for the internet, and industries are trying to find a place for green technology. We are the cutting edge, if for no other reason than we are still young and idealistic. We still believe, as the Vietnam War protesters did, as the Civil Rights movement did, and as the Occupy movement still does, that we can change the world.

Which is why, in closing, I ask that we stop trying to define the Millennial generation. Time Magazine, The New York Times, even the Jezebel’s writers, please stop. We don’t really know who we are yet, but we definitely don’t need a box to grow into.

 

Or, maybe we really do suck. In which case, I’m sorry.

Like a military academy

“How do you feel?”
“Like a military academy; bits of me keep on passing out.”
— Douglas Adams, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”

Actually, today, I feel great. I just really love that quote. It was also going through my head while I was running yesterday. I am a mite sore in places–feeling muscles I didn’t realize I had.

Overall, I’d probably do it again.

 

Which is why the sadists that make running programs are winning…