"Digital Cadence"    [ 04 ]   
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Feb 2010

I'm supposed to be running right now, but instead I'm sitting here like a lump typing this blog.

Anyone who tells you "Running Is Fun!" ought to have their head examined. It's painful, and pain does not equal "fun" . . unless you're 'into that sort of thing' of course ... which I am not. Running makes you hurt everywhere: your lungs, your feet, knees and legs, your eyes. . hair . . tedious and exhausting through your arms and torso, it's fatiguing like torture on a rack. Show me a jogger who relishes the mythical so-called "runner's high" and I'll show you a case of exertion-induced brain damage!

 Q ?

Oh sure, there are some out there who might just be 'wired for running' whose jogging experiences are relatively agony-free. I am not that kind.

Make no mistake, I love a physical challenge, and used to pedal a mountain bike all over town in lieu of owning a car as a matter of course. I even huffed that thing over a couple mountains once just to see if I could ride a hundred miles on a summer's day. – I could – So I learned that about myself, and henceforth have perceived no reason to prove the point again. Could I do it again, now? At this age? Probably not . . but I'm getting ahead of myself...

Two things happened in my life which brought me to the inescapable conclusion that I Must Run. The first happened over time as I slid into the field of Multimedia Design and Development. I began to notice that a number of my Programming Heroes were beginning to feature running reports on their websites .. as if instead of learning how to create a springy mouse-driven menu, they supposed their visitors would like to know that this über-codeMaster could now run a half-marathon, with support pages documenting months of jogging progress and typical routes. I thought.. Man, well that's weird! Why would they put something like that on their webpage? It's almost as if they're proud about this or something. Then I turned 40 and began spreading out a bit as if some cosmic age-sensitive alarm had gone off while I was busy stuffing my face full of Cheetoz in front of "Battlestar Galactica" reruns. I am lean by nature, so this really caught me off guard. Imagine my shock to realize that hammering down pizza & burgers followed by racks of cookies & chips, all washed down by a 2-litre bucket of soda, would all have to ease off a little come to an end. Sitting static in the glow of a computer screen for days on end, week after week, after month, after years, will make a sloshy beanbag out of anyone.

The second bit of news (around this same age – ain't Middle Age grand?) came from my doctor, who informed me that despite having no history or physical inclination toward high cholesterol, my cholesterol levels were 'elevated' and I would have to either [A] learn to manage it on my own (here he actually chuckled aloud) or [B] start taking something like Lipitor every day for the rest of my life. Do you know what Lipitor does to a body? Besides helping lower one's cholesterol, likely side effects include:

  • Excessive muscle and joint pain
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Insomnia and dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Sinusitis (one of my personal faves)
  • Kidney problems / failure
  • Liver failure
  • And the usual, of course: stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting
  • Oh . . and a rash ..

OOOOOH! · Sign me up for some o' that!

The ironic thing is that, according to circumstantial MRI's I've taken about once a decade, a very strong heart beats in this chest, healthy as an athletic 18-year-old boy's! It's the "piping system" that's apparently all goobered up with shovelfuls of "loaded" movie popcorn. (Great Popcorn, though)

So I started running occasionally. First I struggled just to clock a couple of miles, but eventually pounded up to 5 or 6 miles three or four times per week. A range of exercises normally accompanied this activity: a bit of stretching, some leg-lifts, barbell lifts, sit-ups, chin-ups, elevated push-ups, and any other kind of 'up' designed to inflict maximum pain on one's muscular system. My most consistent regimen lasted perhaps two months. This was last year sometime, I believe. Or maybe it was 2008 . .. not sure. With the schedule I keep, none of this is something I dwell on longer than necessary just to get myself out the door, when the stars are in their proper alignment, and I don't have to change the oil in our SUV or something – anything. ~ I know, I know . . I need to get back on this again. It's better than chewing down organ-thrashing drugs for the rest of my life . .. Curbing my intake of pre-processed 'garbahj' should also help. And I'm working on that . . I am – one step at a time, eh? Celery instead of pop-tarts... mmm'boy!

What's more, a Reliable Source just clued me in on this supposed wonder: FLAX. She downs a couple spoonfuls of this gritty stuff each night with a glassful of water, and her cholesterol has dropped some 60 points! Yeah, I know! That's just crazy, because this stuff looks/feels just like leftover sawdust, and tastes the same.. like plastic shavings swept off the floor of a toy-manufacturing plant. It's supposed to be good for you, so I'm adding this to my elastic regimen:

 flax seed

Perhaps guys like Doug TenNapel and Keith Peters (graphic artist/writer/game-designer, and Flash programmer/author, respectively) were faced with similar dilemmas resulting from years of wallowing in the glow of their own computer screens. Their online storefronts now reflect Running as their Latest & Greatest Achievements. — As for me, I'll dedicate a blog page to it because some of you actually seem genuinely interested about this .. . but that's all you get. Don't count on visiting Tombo Studios for my latest 'running chart' or any such nonsense . . unless I could turn it into some kind of killer interactive Flash animation... (always a possibility) But to make up for this 'lack' in my website, I will at least share the following with you jogger-types out there . . .

Running for an hour without music to keep cadence by is, for me, positively unthinkable. If my Zen player ever broke, I would probably swell up like Mr. Creosote and explode within a week. (Good thing my recharger works) Can you believe some web sites out there devote themselves to tracking beats-per-minute (BPM) across music genres just so Today's Runner can build a musical setlist to run with? I did not know about this until recently, and had already cobbled together this exercise setlist on my own:


Click below for a 2-minute sample
"The Body Wah" Tears for Fears
"Manhattan Project" Rush
"Hope of Deliverance" Paul McCartney
"Off the Ground" Paul McCartney
"Take On Me" a-ha
"The House is Rockin" Stevie Ray Vaughan
"Tom Sawyer " Rush


(1) "The Body Wah" – A trippy little tune from Tears for Fears' "Saturnine" album, played during my traffic-dodging stroll to the Trail of Pain . . this song feels like vast and mysterious horizons looming just beyond one's senses — it's more of a mood-setter than anything musical to run along with . . .
(2) "Manhattan Project" – I start running with this one. Sometimes I match the pace quickly enough. Other times, it's all I can do to force my legs to pump to the beat, dreading the pace-setters to come...
(3) "Hope of Deliverance" – The last of my 'warm up' songs. By now, I should have mustered enough determination to match this BPM pace in preparation for what's coming next.
(4) "Off the Ground" – The slowest of my repeating fast-track set, this gets me prepped & up-to-speed for "Take On Me". This also provides a welcome slowdown 'break' from the other two song that loop with this one for the remainder of my run (songs 4-5-6).
(5) "Take On Me" – kind of a standard running song on just about everyone's play list, it turns out — pushes me almost to the limit .. . ( FHQWHGADS! [ source / song ] )
(6) "The House is Rockin" – This one can kill me when I haven't run in a while . . . especially toward the middle when the guitar solo kicks in -- I swear Stevie shreds faster during that part! This is nothing less than a guaranteed 2½ minutes of sheer pavement pounding pain. (I am *so* not a Marathoner)
(7) "Tom Sawyer" – I added this recently on a lark only to discover that it's even faster than "The House is Rockin" -- Not sure yet if 'Faster = Better' during these mid-40 runs. (I guess time and a heart attack will clear that up) This track is a geek-killer, and probably won't last for long on my list.

A well-meaning friend of mine who actually *likes* running –(you know who you are)– recommended that I give "I Don't Care Anymore" by Phil Collins a try. Whether that one falls within the acceptable parameters of my BPM range remains to be seen. That's right .. for all this web-dev I've been posting lately, I haven't gone running in a month! Well, that and a whole mess of February birthdays = travels. March is nearly here [!] so I'll just pick it up again then.  :-]

So if you're out and about for a little evening jog, and you see a moderately tall white dude loping along the desert path wearing bright shorts and an old STAR WARS t-shirt, shadowed occasionally by a 10-year-old girl on a bicycle who likes to sing charming little songs and spout questions like: "Daddy, why don't you just run faster?" . . that's us.  Why not offer a friendly nod and a smile as you pass by, in honor of we few, we proud, we pasty-faced (dying) code monkeys bold enough to venture from our caves & out into the sun for a bit of 'R&R'  ~  All because it's "fun" . . and oh so "healthy". . But take heed of the warning signs along the road: "WATCH FOR FALLING JOGGERS!"


 Running Man

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