The fantasy of being effortlessly good at something is both the impetus for and destroyer of many of my hobbies (I’m sorry, calligraphy). But, somehow, running has outlasted the disappointing gap between floundering and mastery; after several years, I am no closer to being great, but I’m still doing it. It may be that running is one of the few things that is exactly however it feels—when it sucks, your whole body knows it, gives you a reason for griping that you’ve rightfully earned.
But when it’s good? That’s where BEETHOVEN comes in. For a very long time, I’ve been anti-any-sort-of-music during runs—I thought less about how long I’d been going, or when I could stop, or how much I deep down really hated running. But one day I thought I might try again, and long story short I’ve come around to classical, most often Beethoven, especially Beethoven’s 6th (the stuff from Fantasia with the centaurs). It’s earworm-y and beautiful and, sure, there is some of that mind-clearing transcendence that, like, Classic Music for Studying playlists all promise. But more than that, there is the thrill of being part of something magnificent—a soundtrack for the illusion that greatness was made for you.
Plus! I like to think of Beethoven way back when, writing symphonies for people in powdered wigs (Ed.: Did people in 18th-century Vienna wear powdered wigs? Cite source.) Who could’ve guessed someday there’d be me, sweating my butt off in spandex on a treadmill listening to the same thing? Art! You never know how the stuff you make is going to be loved.