Why so many writers run

Note to self: if the temperature is below 50 degrees, and the race is next to a lake, and the wind is blowing, wear tights under the shorts. Or better yet, your warm black leggings.

The race on Saturday went….. well, it was a lot like writing. First, I was apprehensive because of the cold. Second, the weather (see above). But BH was running with me, and I’ve been working on getting in shape for four months now, and not every race is going to be great, but you show up anyway, because at the very least, the discipline is good for you.

The Dog Who Always Beats Me wasn’t there, which bummed me out, but there were dozens of runners who I had never seen before, and I knew I would be entertained watching them pull away from me at lightning speed. So – boom it was 8 am and the Oswego Pumpkin 5K Race was on.

I clocked the first mile at a very decent pace. And then we started running against the wind. I kept repeating the same song over and over on my iPod: The Can-Can song from Moulin Rouge. Miles 2 & 3 were ungodly cold. I even shouted at the weather a couple of times. (Most of the runners were at the finish drinking hot chocolate at that point, so nobody heard me.)

So I was coughing, slow, freezing, lonely, …. and blissfully happy. Because I was doing it. I was working my body, dragging it up the hills, grinning like a fool. My time compared to anyone else’s was meaningless. My time compared to my other times meant even less. All that mattered was that in that moment, I ran, I sweated, I worked, I enjoyed the bliss. That’s how the writing goes for me, too. The ugly days, the days when I know I will throw out everything I wrote, are every bit as important as the magical days when the Muse takes over the keyboard. Because you can’t have one without the other, so you need to learn how to enjoy them all.

What I did NOT enjoy was the the cheeseball guy who was supposed to tell me to take a left into the tunnel so I could get to the finish line. He let me run straight by him. When I got to the next race volunteer, she directed me to take a right. I checked my time and questioned her – “Are you sure I’m supposed to go this way? I thought I’d be to the finish line by now.” “Oh,” she said. “That’s for people running the 5k. If you’re running the 21K, you take this right.” “But I AM RUNNING (OK, shuffling) THE 5K,” I gasped.

Long silence…. “Oh,” she finally said. “Then you want to turn around and run back to that cheeseball guy who will point you to the tunnel.”

I was too tired to slap anyone, so off I ran. The detour turned a 5K into a 6K, but I needed the exercise, so it was all good.

Detours help you learn what you’re made of, on the page or on the road.

9 Replies to “Why so many writers run”

  1. I admire people who can run – even more so, people who gain such pleasure from running!

    I’m told that Joyce Carol Oates is also a runner.

  2. You should take it as a compliment! The cheeseball guy must have thought to himself, “There’s a determined runner in pain! She must be on the 21k!”

    He thought you looked like a pro. 😉


    Way to stick it out to the end. For me running has been a great way to break writer’s block. When all those ideas start flooding in and getting tangled up and the to do list keeps getting longer and longer and longer…
    Time to step back and go run. It gives you a break from everything else and you get a chance to stop and regroup. Come up with a plan then get back to it.

    (burden brothers)

  4. You said: I even shouted at the weather a couple of times.

    I did this too when I ran cross country and track in high school. It made me laugh and reflect.

    I was at a bookstore and a girl asked her mom for a good book and I froze and felt bad since a copy of Speak was just inches away from me. I need to learn to speak up.

    Hope the writing is coming along well. And glad to hear you aren’t snowed in.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.