I like to write about running because it’s a subject I know a lot about, and it’s easy. It’s intuitive and fascinating, in a nerd out kinda way, but moreso, it’s also a break from devoting time to subjects that inhabit more complexity and involve more brainpower. Writing about running is something of an escape from the things that really matter in life, but quite often I feel guilty devoting so much time to something as selfish and irrelevant as running, when so many other issues need a powerful voice. I wrestle with this dynamic and after so much hemming and hawing and emotional frustration, tend to settle on the irrelevance of my effect anyways. Words are just words. But I know that’s not true. The words of others have shaped my life deeply, not just in thought, but in action, and that’s no small thing. Hence the struggle with wasting words on selfish pursuits. I could go on, but those words would definitely border on wasteful, so what follows are two subjects, as a way of balancing out this dichotomy with which I struggle.
The treadmill effort I’ve begun has me thinking a lot about what benefits and drawbacks there are to devoting the majority of one’s training to this immovable machine. I’m not a stranger to the treadmill at all, so I know it has it’s benefits, but the treadmill has always been a poor weather supplement to my training rather than a primary component, so it will be interesting to see how things shake out when I actually hit the road. What follows are some of my initial considerations related to training and how a treadmill helps or hurts them.
I’m definitely not worried about accumulating mileage on a treadmill. There is really no obstacle to running miles on a treadmill versus outdoors, as long as you can find a gym that doesn’t put a limit on your time or has impatient runners waiting for their turn. The only confusion I have is how it actually measures mileage. Running outside involves moving your body over a defined, measurable physical space, but when you’re running in place, how does the treadmill know you’ve actually covered a proper mile? Is it an equation of treadmill rubber and speed or am I overthinking this?
I definitely think the treadmill has considerable more give to each footfall impact, so when the mileage builds and the workouts get harder, the risk of impact injury should be lessened. I certainly have a history of having breakthrough workouts in my training only to be followed by overuse injuries, so it will be interesting to see if treadmill workouts reduce some of that pattern. On the other hand, running outside allows one to intuitively regulate muscle strain through speed adjustments according to the terrain, where on the treadmill you are essentially trying to keep up with the rubber, or even have the rubber keep up with you. It will be an effort to find that sweet spot and manually adjust the pace rather than just having the body adjust for me, lest I let the rubber overwork my muscles because i don’t want to concede to dropping the speed. Finally, running in one direction will build strength in certain muscles, but the muscles involved in turns, whether soft or abrupt, will go neglected. I wonder if lateral muscle strength will be compromised and cause issues down the line or during a race.
Running is equally a mental game as it is physical, and in this regard I think the treadmill has the upperhand in building psychological strength, if through the suffering of time standing still anyways. It can be a real struggle to find a story in your head to keep you from looking at the mileage barely ticking by, recreating the watched pot never boiling scenario. If you can find your way through multiple 20 milers on a treadmill, than anything during race situations will be cake.
Running in poor weather is hard. Not to say running on a treadmill is always a party, but at the very least it’s always available, no matter the weather or the time of day. The siren call of excuses is always deadened when a strip of rubber in a temperature controlled environment sits dormant, just waiting for you to hit “GO”. Then again, running through adversity, especially when you don’t feel up to it, has it’s own psychological benefits and the treadmill just acts as a happy medium.
Workouts on a treadmill are going to involve a bit of tweaking. Running outdoor workouts can involve a lot of speed variability and intuitive adjustments. Workouts on a treadmill are going to involve speed variability, but with less immediate adjustments, such as quick intervals. Getting up to 800 pace will take longer than if done outside and backing out of it will take some time too. I imagine creating workouts that are a little longer in duration to compensate for increasing speed. On the other hand, extreme hill workouts will be easy to create in a topography as flat as the Midwest! I’ve always benefitted greatly from hill workouts, so it will be fun to crank that elevation up and mix in some speed.
Training for a race is best done in a way that simulates the race you’ll be running, and that will just not be possible on a treadmill, unless someone sets up a treadmill marathon…any takers? The overall experience of running indoors, in place, will ultimately, but temporarily, deaden the running experience in monotony, if I let it. The challenge to this experience will be finding the excitement and novelty of this absurd training regimen. And in the end, I’m hoping the challenges of running on a treadmill have a sort of more difficult, and therefore more beneficial, stress on the body, which will translate into a new (post-diagnosis) marathon PR.
And now, Politics.
Like, “what the fuck.” But also, “of course.”
These have been my internal reactions to the recent news that Alabama and various states have made progress on criminalizing abortion. This is fucking absurd, but it’s only fucking absurd because I surround myself in a bubble of intelligent people, radicals, rational thinkers, and generally good people. When I am forced out of that sphere of intelligence, the whole charade is like, “Duh, of course this is happening.” But that doesn’t mean it’s any less enraging.
I struggled with saying anything about this issue, if only because the way social media works, everyone wants to jump on an issue and make some flippant statement to 1. Get catharsis and 2. state which side of the issue they’re on. I get it, I have that impulse too, but I hate that these cathartic expressions are the end of it. There is a tide of response that crests into a flood, then expression fatigue takes over and everyone moves on. Very little is done except for some donations thrown to various organizations, which is good, but also very temporary. The control over our lives demands more than just a bit of cathartic expression, appeal to vote, and then back to Netflix. This is why I even struggle to write this, knowing that it’s part of this wave of cathartic release in place of actually doing anything about the issue. But for what it’s worth, hear me out.
I DO want more than cathartic expression. I want resistance, but not in the trump-era sort of resistance liberals feign to project, nor the Handmaiden’s tale cos play sort of resistance the same liberals with a more dystopian outlook take part. I’m talking genuine resistance, whether it be full scale occupations of government buildings, ceaseless home demonstrations of politicians, and/or attacks on “pro-life” centers posing as abortion service providers. This escalation to social war is the appropriate response to the democratic process and control over our lives, period. This is not hyperbole.
It’s frustrating as hell that the majority of people still cling to their romantic notions of democracy’s sanctity, as if the outcome of every election is going to turn inherently liberal because democracy itself is “good.” Democracy is a tool, in the hands of whoever wants to wield it, with no moral compass, period. It does not rest comfortably in the notion that humans are inherently good. It rests in the context of survival, cooperation, and power grabs, and the victims are everyone. Hence, “Of course.”
Of course this is happening because the populace continues to uphold democracy as an untouchable procedure, and happily hand over their ability to make decisions for themselves into a class of people who seek to make decisions for everyone else. And all the liberals cry, “you’re not helping the people!” while the people who elected them rest content. Every so often the power struggle flips, but then flips back, and meanwhile no one takes the time to see that no matter the party in power, power is in power. Control wins. Servitude is solidified. And everyone handed them the chains. You can’t cry out that politicians are taking control over your bodies when you uphold the process that gives them the ability to take control over your bodies. You give them permission every time you cast your vote, hoping the chips fall in your favor.
If I must be labeled, I guess I’m in the anarchist camp, though I’m uncomfortable with that association. Still, the Circle A argument is pro-choice, because choice rests in trusting the agency and freedom of the individual, but it goes deeper than that, because we reject the ability to control at all. It can be an uncomfortable position, rife with privilege and various convenient comforts, but we resist the democratic process and all those involved precisely because it enables these situations to arise, where politicians of the Christofascist sort are given the ability to destroy our lives, psychologically and physically. All the rational and reason in the world doesn’t matter to them. Their decisions are less about the issue itself (or at least the nuances of it) and more about using the issue as one more lever of control, to both restrict their enemies and build bonds with their allies. Our lives are pawns in their game.
So yes, this specific issue is infuriating, that they are criminalizing women who are raped, that they are compelling women to commit suicide in order to avoid going to prison, that they are imprisoning women, men, and children into lives of misery due to any variety of circumstances and stresses that modern life puts upon those who are in lesser economic status, all due to our natural, biological drives. They are creating a dynamic for abusive men to rape and impregnate women as yet another tool to keep them in their own twisted servitude. All of this…It’s fucking insane, and also, of course.
We can’t rest on the democratic process to “fix” this. We have to reject the democratic process wholesale. It has ALLOWED this to happen. It’s part and parcel of it’s very existence.
Look, it’s extreme, in the way people want to view the world, but we live in a context of us vs them and the social war has been raging for quite some time. Y’all have been in the middle of it, whether you knew it or not. Despite the borders of this country and the idea of a melting pot and the flag y’all salute (you think that ritual is about pride and not social control? Psssshhhh), we are naturally divided. There are political classes against people. There are the have and the have nots. There are the frightened and the free. There are the safe and the seeking safety. It’s all a big battle and the worst trick is they have you playing their game with the elections and the courts and the “coffee with a cop” and all that bullshit they throw at you to make you think you’re part of this grand human project, so that when this kind of shit happens and they ruin your lives, that you’ll just eat it up and wait your turn to vote them out of office…that doesn’t always work. So then what?
We are the victims of these people and they get away with whatever they want, because our misery doesn’t affect them. Hell, it enables them. We HAVE to stop asking them to be nicer. We have to ruin their lives. They need to be uncomfortable. They need to not sleep. They need to live in fear. They need their privileges stripped away. Home demonstrations. Screaming them out of public places. Gluing the locks of fake abortion providers that are fronts for christofascist moralism. Fuck em, fuck em all. They bring fear and misery and suffering upon our lives with the “civility” of democracy, which is just the prettied facade covering the ugliness of physical force (police, military, scared white men).
If this ability to prevent us from living out our inherent biological freedom is to stop, we need to stop playing the game we didn’t invent. We need to stop furthering the system of control we were simply born beneath. We need to see this social war for what it is, a struggle for our lives, and one that isn’t accomplished through niceties. Right now they’re winning because they got us believing were all on the same team. Break ranks. Find your friends. Draw a line in the sand.