Everything But the Run

Running ShoesI used to be a runner. I started running 6 years ago and was soon training 3-4 times a week. I even took part in marathons (once!), half-marathons and 10k races. I collected medals, and lost weight and moodiness in one fell swoop.

Of course, there were many days when I didn’t feel like going out for a run. Anyone who knows what England is like in November can confirm that there are many November days throughout the year.  But I survived the rain, the snow, the few days of summer heat, a wasp sting, getting lost in a field full of rampant bulls.

Then I sprained my ankle quite badly, and was laid up for a few weeks.  When I recovered, I injured my toe.  A few months later, something else happened. And so injury followed bed rest followed pain… until I was completely out of shape.  The longer I stayed away from running, the harder it got to get back into it.

Here in France the weather is not November all year round, but did that rid me of excuses? No, on the contrary, it provided me with more of them.

‘Today is too hot’ or ‘I can’t run in the snow’ alternated with ‘I’m too busy travelling’ or ‘I’ve got to prepare for this important business thing.’  And of course, the children – handy, trusty old excuses – they always figured in there somehow, in my list of excuses.   My ever-expanding list, to match my ever-expanding waistline.

This month all my prevarications and procrastinations were laid bare.  My children were shipped off to the grandparents.  There was no work to be done over the summer.  All I had to do was get into shape, with my running and my writing.

That’s when the similarities hit me!  I was putting off running, pretending to limber up through all sorts of other exercises (Pilates DVDs, swimming, cycling).  Then I try a few abortive little run-walks, which remind me just how out of shape I am. So then I avoided running even more.  But I know that the only way to get my form back is to break through that pain barrier, to stick with it for long enough.

EditsSame with my novel.  I’ve been putting off editing it by writing blog posts, poems, the odd little bit of prose here and there, book reviews – anything but the novel, in short!  So meanwhile, my mental form is corroding.  Yes, sure, any kind of writing is better than no writing at all, just like any kind of exercise is better than none at all.  But this dilution of effort and focus does not bring me a single step closer to what I want to achieve.

You only become a runner by running.  You only become a novelist by writing a novel.

Have I learnt my lesson? Well, for the past two days I’ve started editing. And you know what?  It’s not as bad as I thought.  It’s hard work, it’s rewriting more than editing, but it’s fun.  In a masochistic kind of way.

I think I may even go for a run soon!

9 thoughts on “Everything But the Run”

  1. Marina Sofia – I like your analogy. And I give you a lot of credit for doing what can be so difficult: taking a clear and honest look at yourself as a writer. I really respect you for that. It’s hard to give oneself that push to get going on a writing project; I’m glad you’re doing it.

    1. After posting it, I finished my chapter edits and went for a run – so I’m feeling more than a little smug! Let’s hope this resolution lasts a little longer than my New Year’s ones.

  2. I like your analogy too. And I can see where I’ve been doing that myself this summer. Hope to get back into a more regular routine once I’ve started the school year.

  3. There is an inimitable way of getting back to running [ jogging or power walking in my case] and that is buying a pair of Merrell barefoot running shoes. I swear they run themselves whether you are coming along or not.
    I’ve done 412 miles since I got them first week in June. Remember a film called the red shoes or something like that, which meant the girl couldn’t stop dancing? Well, it’s like that. Even tying the laces gives me a hight.

    1. Oh that’s an idea – but are they good for the knees too? Because I think it’s an old knee injury which is putting me off things (excuses, excuses…).

  4. Key is to pace oneself (he says proudly…) I train twice a week with a longer run (5K) when I feel inspired. I train at a gym, starting with 3K on the treadmill. But then I am an elderly gentleman! ;-P ~ As for the novel, it will happen!

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