On a recent run I had a sudden epiphany that made me realise they were more closely related than I thought.
There’s plenty of room in life to have more than one passion, but how they can interact is fascinating. Especially when they are seemingly totally unrelated.
I’ve been writing all my life, from my first attempts at creating poetry as a child to long reams of emotional gumpf that somehow got me through the turbulence of my teenage years.
Writing really is something that is natural to me, but this does not always mean it’s easy. More on that soon…
Running came into my life much later. I was about 20 years old when I first started to run, properly, having signed up to a half-marathon in a moment of caffeine and ginger nut fuelled madness during my first job as a newspaper reporter.
I remember having second thoughts almost immediately. Wasn’t it going to be a bit of a drag? How would I make time for it? What if I simply couldn’t run?
But I went along to the first training session, and as cheesy as this sounds, fell in love (cue the soppy music).
But like all love stories, my relationship with running hasn’t been short of its pain and frustrations. I’m not going to pretend there aren’t days when I would rather just stay in bed and watch films while stuffing my face with chocolate/crisps and dip/hummus (delete as applicable).
Sometimes it’s cold, wet and dark and I curse myself for signing up to whatever event I’ve put my name in for. I hate the aches and pains you get when you’ve overdone it, I hate hills, I hate steep, sharp descents that make your knees hurt, and I hate accidentally plunging my feet into muddy puddles hidden under deceptive patches of grass.
Running bras and leggings are vile (seriously, have you worn those things?). I’m certainly no Jess Ennis, and honestly… I run a bit like a duck…
But the highs make it all worth it.
I can honestly say there’s never been a run I’ve regretted. After each and every one I have a renewed vigour for life. I come home and everything seems that much more achievable. It’s a great way of staying calm and focused. You can’t beat the feeling of your body settling into a rhythm when you run. It’s like an engine happily ticking over, and when everything falls into place it’s brilliant.
It made my skin better, it made me more confident, it made me calmer, you get the gist… it’s bloody brilliant.
One of the greatest aspects of running is the things you see, and they are great for writing. Remember everything and take it in. It’s all about the detail. From the couples arguing outside restaurants to an old lady sitting on a bench with the cutest dog you’ve ever seen. You witness it all, and so it’s a great way to add the delicious observational stuff to your storytelling.
It’s a great way to take a break from a long writing session, where you emerge from the laptop unable to communicate with anyone or operate basic machinery such as a toaster or kettle. It freshens you up and brings you back to reality (with an almighty slap if it’s cold).
The build up to a big event, like a half-marathon or a marathon is just like writing a book.
You feel that trepidation. You’re taking on something massive, something intimidating, something that will require a lot of your time, and love, and effort and everyone knows about it. It’s not something that can be achieved quickly and it will take dedication and practice.
Getting to the quarter point on your latest manuscript, then halfway, then three quarters of the way through is comparable to a long training run. One mile, eight miles, fifteen miles…. It feels unachievable sometimes, but somehow if you put the work in you always make it, however you get there, and it’s the most amazing feeling at the end.
Running and writing also share one major thing… You are always improving and changing. Writing grows with you as you get older and I think running does too.
I know runners are sometimes viewed as those cocky, over confident and intimidating fitness types. You know the ones, with bottoms like hot cross buns, bounding through the street wearing a huge grin on their faces and possessing that enviable seemingly limitless energy – but don’t be fooled. It takes time and practice and there are knockbacks and setbacks. Just like writing, it’s harder on some days and an utter joy on others.
Both running and writing have me hooked, and I love how the two work together.
And when people say ‘I can’t run’, or ‘I can’t write’ without just giving it a try, all I can think is – no-one is stopping you, no-one is watching you, and you can do it just how you like.