I’ve been involved in a few different sports throughout my life: basketball, cross country, track, softball, and volleyball. I think the biggest reason I got into sports was because of my older brothers. I wanted to do whatever they did. The two that I enjoyed the most were basketball and running. Through high school, I played intramural basketball, but didn’t run much. When I got into college, I didn’t play any sports regularly, but I picked up running again my sophomore year. My sophomore year was the year I switched my major to English, the year I began writing more.
I find it interesting how similar running and writing are. When I run, my mind runs as well. I love to run when I’m frustrated or nervous about something. I feel as though I can run it out of me. Writing does the same for me. When I have something I want to say or want to express my feelings to a person, I prefer to write it out of me. That’s not always an option, but when it is, I take the writing option. My shorts stories are often inspired by real life events. Now that I’ve said that, I know whenever anyone reads a story they’re going to ask who it is about. I accept my fate.
Running seems to have become a big trend over the years. I guess since I started doing big races a few years ago, I began noticing it more. Towards the end of college, I became involved in doing the Broad Street Run. I’ve run that a few times, I’ve run the Philadelphia Half Marathon, The Rock N’ Roll Half Marathon, and some random 5k’s and 10k’s in the area. I started this because of my oldest brother. We’ve run a few races together and it’s been a great way to bond as we grow up.
The more I write and the more I run, I discover how both activities are an exercise of the mind. Writing obviously uses the mind. I’m working my mind to formulate thoughts and sentences, even though sometimes the sentences are mindless. Running, while using the entire body, also uses the mind. When I run, I talk to myself to encourage myself. I don’t talk aloud, that would be reason to put me away in a home and I don’t want anyone to put me away just yet. When I run the long races, 10 miles or 13.1 miles, there’s a point where my body gets fatigued but my mind is still fresh. If you get tired in your mind while your running while your body is also tired, then you’re done. You’ve given up. It’s happened to me before. But when my mind is still poised, I will myself to keep going. It’s amazing what one can do if they literally put their mind to it. If you believe in yourself, and will yourself to keep going, you really can keep going. Same goes for writing. I get so excited about sitting down to compose the next great short story, the next great blog post, the next great journalistic article……but sometimes nothing comes out. I stare at the most terrifying thing ever, a blank white Microsoft word screen. No words. The cursor blinking maniacally at me, a blank slate waiting for me to fill it with my never ending wisdom. Wisdom that I cannot seem to muster for the life of me. But, I keep doing it. I keep trying. I will my mind to keep trying.
Running is hard and can be emotionally taxing. So is writing. Even though I am a young writer, I’ve come to learn rather quickly that writing involves a great amount of rejection. Rejection is obviously emotionally taxing. Somebody telling me I’m no good is the last thing I ever want to hear and something I fear. But I’m going to hear it. In order to be a writer, you need to develop a thick skin. In running, you also need to develop a thick skin. I have callouses on my feet. It’s nasty, but the weird side of me think the callouses are kind of cool. It’s a sign of hard work and I have quite a few epic stories I can tell involving my feet and blisters.
Fear is a feeling I have battled with and fear is an obstacle in both writing and running. Deciding you want to be a writer is a rather daunting thing to do. It’ll probably take me many years to climb up the ladder of success that I have set before myself. I can recognize that being afraid of failure has stopped me from making certain decisions. It’s held me back in some situations. Fear can hold one back when they’re running as well. Deciding to run a 13.1 mile race is frightening. Fear of getting hurt or not being able to finish a race. I have overcome the feeling of fear in both writing and running.
Being afraid is okay though. It’s a natural human feeling. It’s what you do to overcome that fear that matters. An important thing that human beings need to remember when they are faced with a daunting situation is, we’re all in the same boat. There is somebody else out there who feels exactly the way you do. None of us are alone. I feel as though that’s an important thing to remember when being a writer and a runner.
Even though both activities can be scary, there is nothing like the finished product. It’s an exhilarating feeling when you finish a story you’ve been working and people think it’s actually worth reading. It’s a wonderful feeling just being able to write a complete story, I get an idea and I run with it, whether it’s ready for the world or not. It’s crazy incredible getting a story accepted and having it published. Makes me feel like a real writer. There’s also nothing like that last sprint to the finish line in race. I can’t quite put into words how that feels. Both are rewarding accomplishments.
I’ve heard people say, “What is so hard about writing?” Sit down, grab a pen or a computer, and write. But nothing is easy. If it’s something you love and care about and you want it to be great, it’s not going to be easy. Running seems easy too. Just get up and start running. But it’s not. There is more than meets the eye with both activities. Determination, discipline, effort, dedication, courage, courage is a big one…these are all words that can describe what it takes to be a writer and a runner. I guess those are terms that describe what it takes to do anything really. But let’s just pretend it’s just for writing and running for the sake of this blog post and for the sake of my sanity.
I’ve been working full time in an office now for a year. I’ve enjoyed it. I definitely enjoy getting a steady paycheck. I’ve thought a lot (probably too much) about what my purpose in life is. I figure I’ll work full time and save some money until my writing career takes off and I can make money from that. But I have strayed away from writing short stories. I still do it, but I’m not as active as I was. I also strayed away from running. I started to blame it on work. Oh, I’m too tired to run. Oh, I’m too tired to write. I started to stray away from two things that I really enjoy doing. There’s no excuse for stopping things that make you happy. Obligations in life, such as working full time, are inevitably going to get in the way of things that you enjoy. The test here is balance. Another important key to writing and running. Life is too short to get bogged down and not do what you love to do. People sometimes say oh you can’t have it all. I think you can have it all. It just takes effort. I realize I have chosen a path, writing, that requires me to balance full time work that allows me to make money to save with making time to nurture what I think is a talent that I can one day turn into a career.
I had an epiphany the other day, I always think I’m having those, maybe it’s just heart burn. I’ve started writing more and I’m going to start running more. Even if I am tired when I get home, nothing wrong with being a little tired. I always say, there’s nothing wrong with a little sleep deprivation. Although, there have been medical articles out about how harmful sleep deprivation is. I need to stop reading health articles. It’s because I work in a doctor’s office and am in a family of doctors. I’m convinced something is wrong with me, other than the obvious things.
I feel kind of like a poser when I say I’m a runner. I’m not an all star athlete who is out to break records. I enjoy running because it works both my mind and body. I’m in it for the joy of improving myself, the joy of reaching new goals. That’s why I like to write.
This is another one of those “on the fly I didn’t proofread or really think this through” blog posts. I had an idea so I decided to run with it.