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June 13, 2007

Instant Karma, Slow Nirvana

A couple of posts ago, I argued that everyone is in training for something. All of the small actions and decisions we made in the past, and continue today, impact the people we will become tomorrow.

To coincide with my daughter’s birthday, I used the example of a birthday cake my wife made to illustrate the point, and I thought the idea had run its course. But as it turns out, I wrote that post a little too early – because over the past three days, two more examples have hit me square in the face, which speak to the same premise.

So consider these next two topics as a collective “Part 2” of the training analogy post. Actually, it's probably better that I didn't include these ideas before - otherwise, it would have been yet another 2000-word post for you to slog through, and I'm trying to get out of the habit of doing that.

Anyway, One of the examples is related to triathlon, and the other isn’t – which, if you’ve read this blog for any period of time, is exactly what you should come to expect. As usual, I’ll start with the rambling topic first, but if you just want the tri stuff, feel free to scroll down below the asterisks.

On Monday morning, I saw Green Day’s new video for Working Class Hero, their cover of the classic John Lennon song that is part of the Instant Karma Campaign to Save Darfur. If you do nothing else to appease me today, click on the song link after you’re done reading (or before – but be sure to come back) and watch the video in its entirety. I won’t be overly dramatic and claim it’s the most powerful five minutes of television I’ve ever watched – but it’s certainly the most meaningful five minutes I’ve seen on MTV in quite a while.

Green Day started testing the waters of social commentary with their revolutionary American Idiot album in 2005, but prior that point, they were generally regarded as merely a talented punk band with little “meaningful” cultural significance.

After all, this was the band whose major label debut begins with the lines, “I declare I don’t care no more – I’m burning up and out and growing bored – in my smoked out boring room.” That same album featured a hit single called Longview, whose subject matter was … um, a word I’m not going to say, for fear of getting a bunch of hits from perverted Google searches (Hint: it’s a routine thing most guys do.) Oh, and I forgot to mention the name of this landmark album: Dookie.

Needless to say, this wasn’t a group of guys you’d expect to find as the centerpiece of an Amnesty International relief effort. Yet almost 15 years since they burst on the scene, that’s exactly what they’ve become.

The evolution occurred in small steps. Their maturation process through the years was barely perceptible, while they kept their hard musical edge and maintained their core fan base. And now they’re hitting that fan base over the head to call attention to a global crisis.

I suspect that many Green Day aficionados are probably having conversations similar to this exchange between a friend and I during a recent run:

Me: That new Green Day video’s pretty intense, huh?

Him: Yeah … so what’s the deal with Sudan again?

Me: I’m not sure – some sort of genocide or something.

Him: Oh … that sucks.

Clearly, we’re not the most well-informed runners, but we’re both Green Day fans – and maybe that’s the point. Maybe the cause that Green Day has been training for all these years is to help make ignorant slackers like me more aware of what’s going on in the world.

The problem in Darfur is obviously far greater than one band or one CD compilation can resolve. But if just a few people start talking about it, those people might talk to others, and gradually an increased awareness will develop. And that’s probably the best, first baby step towards some sort of resolution. All from the band who brought you Dookie.


Finally, on an almost completely unrelated note – I did three workouts on Tuesday.

These weren’t the garden variety “just cranking out the miles” workouts, either: I worked a hilly 12-mile trail run in the morning, and swam 3000 yards of pyramid sets in the afternoon, before going on an interesting trail run that night which will be the topic of my next post. By the way, this all came on the heels of a monster bike ride on Monday. You could say I had a rather busy 36 hours.

While my compulsion for training has been fairly well-documented on this blog, you can rest assured that I’m not going to start doing three-a-days on a regular basis between now and my Ironman in August. So in that regard, Tuesday was an aberration.

But here’s the thing: when I was coordinating that schedule ahead of time, I didn’t hesitate for a minute to think that it would be a problem. I’ve been doing twice-daily workouts for so many weeks now, and my body has become so accustomed to functioning at a baseline level of exhaustion, that an additional hour of running after my kids were tucked in didn’t seem like that big of a stretch.

I certainly understand how casual observers might hear that I did three workouts on the same day, and think I’ve gone completely over the edge. But after the accumulation of one hard training day after another, and the gradual adaptation to two workouts stacked together on a regular basis, contemplating a day like Tuesday isn’t such a leap.

I can’t argue that it was a rational decision, but maybe that’s the point of Ironman training: breaking down your senses in small doses over a long period of time, to the point where taking on a seemingly insane challenge doesn’t really seem that crazy.

That’s why I’ll maintain the strenuous volume of training as often as possible between now and August. And when people start telling me I’ve lost my mind, that’s when I’ll know I’m truly ready.


Backofpack 6/14/07, 7:08 AM  

Yeah, all our Ironman friends around here are nuts! 100 mile bike rides, long runs, hours swimming in open water...crazy!

Phoenix 6/14/07, 8:25 AM  

Its true, we're all training for something - and most of us don't know exactly what it is. It may start with one race, but then . . . it leads us somewhere beyond that, hopefully to our purpose for being here.

SkiRough 6/14/07, 8:33 PM  


I really thought Green Day went away after like senior year of high school. Dookie (how retarded is this) was my 8th grade graduation song, btw.

Thanks for the video linkage, I shall check it out.

Amy 6/15/07, 7:30 AM  

I love your last two thoughts about breaking down your senses in small doses so it doesn't seem so crazy...that is so true about running, training and life's adventures.

Enjoy your training!

Ben, aka BadBen 6/15/07, 2:36 PM  

Green Day is very late to the political scene. Great punk bands like NOFX and many others have been doing social commentary for years...in fact, that's what Punk Rock is and has been from the start...social commentary.

That's why I've never taken Green Day seriously as Real Punk, even though they play catchy tunes. Might as well be Emo.

Happy trails and Merry ear-spitting,
Bad Ben

Makita 6/15/07, 3:06 PM  

All of the small actions and decisions we made in the past, and continue today, impact the people we will become tomorrow.

So very true! Yet, I believe it is much bigger than just ourselves as individuals. The actions and decisions we make also affect others... particularly our children and the adults they will beome in the future.

Wonderful post. TFS! :)

Spokane Al 6/16/07, 3:48 PM  

Green Day - doing Lennon's powerful, memorable Working Class hero - moving. Darfur genocide - heart breaking, offensive, maddening, burn in hell damning.

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