Side A

I miss cassette tapes. There was something so active about having to flip the cassette over, or queuing it up to your favorite song. Having to sit by the radio to catch your favorite song to record (and filling the space between with your own disc jockey banter). Music today is so automated - it's like an unending buzz, forever looping in the background. Shuffle. Repeat One. Repeat All.

In college and earlier theatrical contracts, I had a hand held cassette recorder that I used to record my vocal lines or accompaniment. Whenever possible, I would note down the starting location of each song so that I could find it easily. If I didn't, it would mean constantly hitting fast forward. Stopping. Playing. Trying to find my place. Or worse, listening to the entire tape until I found the song I wanted. Eventually, I got impatient - I would hold down the play and fast forward button, listening to the high pitched squeal of the music and wait for the next break (indicating a new "track").

Not only does that sound eerily echo fingernails on chalkboard, but in the end it wreaks havoc on the tape. Stretches it out. Trashes it beyond the point where tying the broken pieces together and re-rolling it even works. It's really not an advisable course of action.

Fast forward to today (OK, that was pitiful). After months of little to no real running, I'm back at it. And it sucks. I mean really sucks. What is awful for me is not the running itself - it doesn't hurt, I don't hate it. It's just slow. Deliberate. Unfamiliar. I want so desperately to jump back in where I left off. Tie my sneakers and head out for a few hours. Line up for a race and shoot for a PR.

But in running there is no "Play + Fast Forward = Squeal". If you try to jump in where you left off, you'll wind up either incredibly disappointed and disillusioned, or worse - hurt. Stretched to the point of breaking, just like the cassette tape, with no quick fix and re-roll to make you play like new again.

You don't need to start at the very beginning. But you will need to press play, listen for a bit to what your body tells you, and fast forward those few times where you can. It will be a much quicker return to your norm if you take your time and treat yourself with the care I know I never showed my cassette tapes.

Oh, and try not to leave yourself laying around on the dashboard in a hot car....

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