Tag Archives: Half marathon

Writing/Running Mix

382058_623672603320_333651482_nPeople have asked me how in the world I find time to train for half-marathons, marathons, and write novels, all in my spare time.

Quick answer: Like I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post, you don’t find time for anything, you make time.

Not so quick answer: Because they feed off of each other.


Feed off each other?

Both activities take hours every week. Hours that I could be spending watching the latest episodes of Real Housewives of Topeka, Kansas—or something like that.

Running and writing feed off one another for a few simple, but critical reasons. If you can sit down and write a novel in a few months, you have the discipline to train for a ten-mile run in the same span of time.

1. Both take a ridiculous amount of patience.

Writing a novel takes a ton of patience. Despite popular opinion, you can’t write a good novel in a weekend. You can’t write a good novel in a week. Hell, sorry NaNoWriMo, but you can’t in a month either. A novel is a block of stone you have to chip away at. You can get a few chunks of it in a few heavy swings, but you’ll often be overwhelmed and burnt out. It’s best to take your time and settle into your work. Take the right amount of time to edit and revise. That’s the most important part of writing anyway.

Distance running is the same thing. You can’t go out and run ten miles your first day out. You may be able to sprint a quarter mile and knockout a large chunk quickly, but that will tire you out. Developing the skills for distance running helps me sit down in front of the computer and do the work I need to before I start my day job every day.

2. Physical exertion breeds creativity.

There may be a study that proves this. On the contrary, there may be a study that says this statement is completely full of shit. But I can’t count how many great writing ideas I’ve had in the middle of a long, gut-checking run.

I feel that my best ideas come when I’m struggling to keep my body moving forward. I don’t know if this is because I’m not trying to think of creative ideas—I’m just trying not to pass out. “Light Bulb Moments” seem to happen when you’re focusing somewhere else.

3. Running and reading work well together.

I know what you’re thinking.

“Ummmm … Nope! You can’t run with a book in your hand.”

I smile at you. I look to the smart phone you’re holding in your hand, and politely ask you if you’ve ever heard of audible.

You tell me that reading audio books isn’t reading at all.

I tell you that you’re full of shit. The purpose of any writing is to convey information. Words put a picture in your head, and make you imagine what the book says. As Stephen King says, it’s a version of telepathy. Whether you consume the words with your eyes or ears, it doesn’t really matter much, does it? Stephen King also said that if you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time or skills to write. Why not read while improving your body?

4. They both teach you how to ‘junk punch’ self-doubt.

Every time I lace up my running shoes, I doubt that I’ll be able to reach my goal for the day. Likewise, when I sit in front of the computer, I doubt that I’ll type fast enough to reach my daily 1,000-word count before I have to go to work. I doubt my words will resonate with my desired audience. I don’t think I’ll run any faster on the trail than I ran two months ago.

Nearly every time I punch that doubt in the face and break through all doubts. It’s freeing. The next time I open my word processor or step out of my front door with my camel pack on, I do so with more confidence. Doing either activity enables me to believe in myself that much more the next time. There’s nothing better than working with confidence.

That’s the main thing these two activities bring into my life—self confidence. No amount of time and money can buy that.

Physical Goals Do More Than Make You Look Better

Well, I’ve been writing a ton. So in an attempt to avoid turning into a large mound of fat, I’ve taken on the challenge of running a half marathon. Why half? Because I think I might die should I attempt a full one. I’ve always been in pretty good shape–but geez–26.2 miles, no thank you. This is the ‘year of the new year’s resolution’ for me, and I’m tackling several right now:

  • Writing a book
  • Buying a home
  • Reading 40 books
  • Running a half marathon.

Why do this to myself–because I can, I suppose.

The book is already done–just waiting to get final editing and what not. So I guess it’s not done, but it’s well on its way. I feel pretty good about that, but I’ll feel better when it’s finally available for purchase.

Closing on my first home purchase on the 28th (yay me!) so that goal should be completed soon barring unforeseen circumstances.

Totally low-balled the reading goal. I’m pretty sure I’m already over thirty books, and the year isn’t half over yet.

I think the half marathon will be the hardest by far. Here’s my latest workout progress courtesy of my awesome new Garmin watch:

Run(I made it to 7 miles after a short break but who’s counting)

You might be asking, “So what’s with the title of your post, bro? Nobody cares about running–how does it help?”

I’m going to tailor these answers to writers, because well, this is my writer’s blog, and that’s who my audience is (so far). If you don’t like it, tell me in the comments–I’m all about conflict! Not really…so don’t.

Moving right along.  Like I said before, physical activity keeps your from turning into a big heap of blubber with fingers. If your body is your temple, you can’t treat your temple like [insert your own unique combination of expletives] and expect to keep your creative mind going. Your body needs sleep, activity and healthy food (for the most part) in order to function to full capacity. Why would your mind be any different? **disclaimer: I’m in no way a doctor. Perhaps that last sentence was crap, but I think it’s true nonetheless**

I don’t know about you, but I get pretty good ideas when I’m not busy trying to think of them. Reading the book The Art and Science of Light Bulb Moments by Tom Evans, I learned that you often have exceptional ideas during physical exercise. True? Yes, I’ve experienced it, but maybe it was because I thought it would happen, more than anything else. Either way, if it works, it works.

What about setting?

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Doing a few laps around my favorite running hot-spots gives me descriptive ideas for setting. How could I use this lake in my writing? Romantic picnic; swimming challenge gone wrong; place to dump a body *looks around*–the possibilities are endless.  Getting out and seeing nature (or man-made structure) definitely helps with ideas for setting.

Also, guess what you can listen to when you’re getting your miles in? Books. I have a healthy stable of audio books I can listen to when going for a run. They always say that a sure fire way to learn how to write better is to read books. Yes, listening isn’t exactly reading; but it’s somebody telling a story, right?

The point to this post (yes there is one, believe it or not) is that going out and getting in shape does more than just make you look good in a swimsuit. The mind and body both need physical activity in order operate at full potential. If you’re not wanting to be the best you possible, then I don’t know what the hell you’re trying to do. Challenging yourself is cool (says a guy that still uses the word cool).  It always feels great when you accomplish new year’s resolutions because it’s soooo easy to say F it and quit in February.