Why I talk about running when I talk about writing

(With apologies to Haruki Murakami.)

Someone who read my blog about streaking pointed out that I often seem to talk about running and writing in the same breath. Maybe it’s because I’m a former blogging runner turned running writer. But I think fundamentally it’s because learning to run changed everything about me.

I wasn’t a runner, I’d never been a runner, I never thought I would or even could be a runner. Running was for other people – fitter, thinner, more disciplined, all-round better people.

I started running not really believing I could do it, expecting to give up after a few humiliating weeks.

Seven years on it’s part of who I am and how I am.

So how is it like writing? Why do I keep mentally bracketing them together?

  • They’re both hard to start, until you get into flow. And recognising that sensation from running has given me more discipline as a writer.
  • Like writing, running is a habit. Unless you keep doing it, you’re not a runner any more. And unless you keep at it, you don’t get any better or faster or stronger.
  • Like running, writing shows me who I am. I come back from a run with a clear head and a strong sense of myself. It’s clear what I need to do next. I come up with ideas and put problems into perspective when I’m running. Writing my morning pages has a similar effect (though with less sweat).
  • But as well as connecting me with myself, both writing and running plug me into the world beyond: I treasure my running friendships and the camaraderie of the start line, just as I treasure the unexpected comment or message from someone who’s read a blog and felt moved to connect.

Eat, pray, love, run, write. Repeat daily.