As novel is composed of individual words, running is composed of individual steps.
Writing and running are a beautiful young couple strolling along the beach as the moon glistens in the rolling waves. I’m a honey colored Labrador who comes romping up flipping briny water and sand in every direction.
Persistence and dedication are essential to both endeavors. They are long-term love relationships who don’t care so much if you’re cheating on one with the other. In fact, a threesome is not out of the question.
You cannot give up when you have a bad day, and you will have bad days, it is something you have to accept. Continuous learning is critical. Writers must be readers, and they must study the craft of writing. Creating better works means our words more accurately represent our ideas and imaginings. As runners, we strive to improve our speed, strength, and distance by learning the latest training technique, reading research as it comes out, and continuing to run.
Running and writing open doors, allowing us to explore new worlds and experience new adventures. We don’t always know where our trip will end or what type of obstacles we may encounter, but who cares that is part of the fascination and wonder.
There are beauty and freedom in the structure of a novel and the structure of a training program. When you know the basics, you are free to run, soar, or bob along with the waves. Knowing your goals, where to place plot points or speed work, building character arc and building your miles allows you the freedom to let loose on the journey.
Interesting characters abound in both worlds. You want an unfathomable backstory for a character? Ask an ultrarunner what fuels them at mile eighty. What inspires them to climb 2000 feet in one mile only to tromp through two feet of snow in an alpine meadow? What makes them crawl when they can no longer run or even walk? Why they joyfully subject themselves to the good possibility of dehydration, hallucinations, and trailside vomiting?
Characters are the reason we write. Without them screaming in our heads to get out and have their story told, would any of us sit down for hours and happily pressing buttons on a keyboard while staring at a screen when we could be socializing, enjoying the warmth of the sun on our skin, or chasing our kids, dogs, or turtles.
Both writers and runners love a good challenge. They enjoy pushing themselves to their limit, finding the boundary of their comfort zone and then dashing across to the dark side. It becomes a personal project to figuring out what makes us and others tick. We want to know what is worth living for? And what is worth dying for?
Running is the best time to think and come up with new ideas and workout problems. Running provides extra oxygen and energy, which floods your system while running and increases brain performance. I do my best thinking while I am running. I’ve been struggling with a plot issue in a fantasy book I’m writing and this morning around mile four, it hit me. I’m going to have to restructure, but now I know where my characters were going in the first place. Running is a tool in my writer’s tool chest.
Frankly, you see some strange things when you are out running, which can lead to story ideas.
And if your are going to sit around for hours at a time, worrying about your story, eating chocolate and ice cream, you should probably lace up your running shoes and let the sun melt some of the cushioning off.