Most of my life, I’ve thought runners were like Chemistry majors — skilled in a way I wasn’t and fans of pain and tedium. This all changed after my second son was born, when my walking partner of many months turned to me and said, “We’re running the next mile. Go!”
For weeks, we steadily built our distance. I insisted Rachel talk to me the entire time about books, teaching, raising boys, recipes — anything to distract me from the hard work. Somehow, while pushing that double jogging stroller and learning about couscous salads, I got hooked.
My husband wasn’t surprised. He’s always said I have the perfect personality for a runner: outdoorsy, disciplined, someone who craves time alone. I’ve never been fast, and as I’ve gotten older, worked through injuries, taken time off, and battled the adjustment moving from sea level to a mile above, I’ve gotten slower still.
Lots of runners talk about the grand thoughts they have while they’re covering the miles. While I’m not one of those (my mind is usually in rest mode while my legs do the tough stuff), I have, at times, thought through the similarities between running and writing.
Here are a few I’ve come up with:
- be in it for the long haul
- every step counts
- hold onto success to motivate later
- some days are great, some days aren’t
- love what you do
- find your rhythm
- keep track of your goals
- when things don’t work, try something new
Any other running writers out there? What similarities do you find between the two?
This post originally ran March 9, 2011
I’m a runner too. I’ve been running for nearly 30 years, on and off. And you know what, I really don’t like running all that much. But I don’t like not running more. 🙂 (Sorry, I
couldn’t help the double negative.)
There are so many parallels between running and writing.
1. Both are all about perseverance. (Just doing it, even if you don’t feel like it.)
2. Both are outlets that I can’t live without.
3. Both can be very hard. But it’s the hard things that are worth doing. At least, that’s what I tell my kids. 🙂
I run too. I think of writing and running as being something I just have to do. The more I run or write the better I get at running and writing.
Red Boot Pearl says
I can’t wait to start running again… I’m 7 months pregnant right now, and it’s just not working out 🙂
Running and writing are total escapes for me. They are work and they are hard, but sometimes they are both insanely euphoric.
I brainstorm while I run, so for me writing and running go hand in hand.
Caroline Starr Rose says
I love these comparisons, especially Connie’s idea that hard things are worth doing, Carrie’s that we get better at the hard things if we do them, and RBP’s that both are escapes.
Heidi Willis says
Those are great, Caroline! I’ve never been good at running, but I like it. And I put my brain in rest mode, too. I always hope I’ll be able to work out some great solution to a problem I have in writing, but I rarely do. It’s all I can do to keep moving forward and keep breathing. 🙂
I don’t know that I have a good similarity, but I do know for me, with both of them, the longer I stay away from them, the harder it is to get back into routine again.
Caroline Starr Rose says
Heidi, agreed. I think the “empty brain” time let’s me get back to life — creative and otherwise — refreshed.
Natalie Aguirre says
Great similarities. I admire that you are a runner. I can run about 2 blocks without getting too winded. I walk instead.
Cami Checketts says
My brain used to work best when I ran. I had all kinds of inspiration for dialogue or new scenes. Then I had my fourth baby and my brain turned to mush! Hopefully someday soon I’ll get inspired while running again.
The best thing I’ve learned through running and writing is that I can do hard things and it feels great (when I’m done).
Me! Running is my happy pill. I wish I had the time to do it more than 30 minutes a day.
And I am the type where I get my best ideas while running. Sometimes I rush inside after a run and shout “Don’t talk to me!” Then I run to the computer and put down the ideas. My husband thinks it’s hilarious, like I’m racing to go to the bathroom or something.
Joanne Fritz says
I’m with Natalie! I’m a walker, not a runner (the shin splints got to me). But I come up with lots of wonderful ideas after a long brisk walk.
I do half my reading while running/walking. I even ran a marathon listening to an audio-book 🙂 You certainly need endurance to run or write. I am in it for the long haul.
Sarah M says
I’ve never thought of myself as a writer or runner until recently. It’s like I never gave myself permission, even though I was doing both of those things because I wasn’t doing them “big” (running marathons, or even races, or getting published other than my own personal blog).
I run for about 40 minutes every Sunday, but it’s only one workout I do a week. I do 4 different things the other days so I don’t get used to any one exercise. For a number of months (when my husband went into work later in the morning) I was running 4X a week and I had never done that in my life. Running was always so hard. There was a mental block in the way of me achieving satisfaction from doing it. I love to exercise, but it seemed like a chore. Just like writing to me, sometimes, feels like a chore.
You’re right, some days are great, some days aren’t. That is very true of my running life.
Caroline Starr Rose says
I love the parallel you´ve drawn between running, writing, and legitimacy. I´ve read on Scholastic editor Cheryl Klein´s blog something similar: that because she does´t run really long distances or especially fast, it´s easy to feel she´s not a real runner. And likewise with writing. It´s hard to claim it as real if there´s nothing “big” to show for it. Blogger Amy Rogers Hayes blogged about just this thing today. But both of these mindsets are a lie. You don´t have to arrive at a certain level to claim the titles of writer or runner. You just have to do it.
Thank you for this great re-post, Caroline. I like the comparison of real runner and real writer. I don’t call myself a real runner because I don’t run regularly or run marathons like my husband and daughter. But you are right; it’s the running itself that makes me a real runner, not how often or how long. The same with the writing. We don’t have to be NYT bestselling authors to identify ourselves as writers.
Btw, my brain goes into overdrive when I run. I have solved many plot problems while running. 🙂
Like Natalie and Joanne, I’m a walker not a runner–but hubby (who is a runner) has convinced me to try running intervals when I’m out–those short, 20 second pushes that are supposed to be helpful. They’re kind of like spurts of revision for me–tough but necessary? Ha, that’s the closest comparison to writing and running I could come up with 🙂
Kimberly Sabatini says
All of this!!!!