Why running is a lot like writing


I wasn’t athletic as a kid. Primarily because I broke my tibia when I was seven. Snapped the thing clean in half, wore a cast from the tip of my toes to the top of my thigh, and spent nearly all of second grade in a wheelchair or on crutches.

Healing took forever and left me with a big old bump on the back of my foot. It was conveniently located close to my growth plate, so I had to wait until I was in high school to get my achilles tendon surgically detached, have two inches of bone broken off, and get the tendon bolted back on. (Commence another three months on crutches.)

Needless to say, it made playing sports impossible – or at least very unlikely. It wasn’t all doom and gloom, though, because while other kids were learning soccer, I was learning my love for writing. I’d spend hours writing my “chapter books” – stories of elaborate adventures with my friends where we always wound up saving the neighborhood from destruction.

Given my injury, no one really expected that I’d ever be athletic or even all that active. And for the most part, I wasn’t. At least not until college, when one day I woke up and decided I was going to start running. At first, I began for a logical reason: I had been losing weight and I could burn more calories in less time running than I could on the elliptical.

Soon enough, I discovered that running not only accelerated my weight loss – but I actually enjoyed it. That said, I wasn’t particularly good. I was slow. My pacing was terrible. I considered one mile a pretty decent distance.

But I really liked running and I wanted to get better. The best way to do that? Keep running.

So I did. And along the way, I realized it has a lot of parallels to writing.

  • Like running, the only way to get better at writing is to write. A lot. Sure, you can read some books on how to pen excellent prose or create really fantastic content. And you can talk to other writers about their tried and true tactics. But at the end of the day, the only way to improve your craft is to keep practicing.
  • And just like running, there are days where writing is the absolute last thing you’ll want to do. There are times where writing feels like the hardest task ever and you really struggle to get through whatever it is you’re working on. But – like running – you keep with it. You push through the hard parts because you’ve got your eye on that finish line. (Or that final draft.)
  • You never regret the time you spend writing. Even if what you’re writing feels kind of a lot like garbage when it’s done, you never say, “Wow, I really wish I didn’t sit down and write today.” Kind of like how you never regret a run – even those miserable ones where you end up walking half the route.
Image via Unsplash

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