Seven Things I Learned about Writing from Running 10


I told  a new internet friend that running and writing are like Oreos and milk. You can’t have one without the other. Technically, you can, but really, the Oreo experience is enhanced exponentially (I like to say exponentially, because the mister is a math geek, and he says that is using the word wrong) with the inclusion of a tall glass of milk. She laughed an internet laugh that I did not hear but that she assured me happened and we went about our new friends merry way.

What I really meant is that, for me, each acitivity is that much easier, that much more pleasurable, when I have healthy doses of each in my life. Sure, I don’t have to do either one, but I do. And when I hit that elusive sweet spot, there are days when the balance is nigh upon perfect. When I run, I write. When I write, my head is clear because of the time I had to distill my thoughts on the path.

It occurs to me that running and writing might be like the two chocolate ends of the same delicious, cream filled cookie. (I don’t know what that inner goodness is made of. I do not want to know. I choose to enjoy my processed foods in blissful, delicious ignorance.) In other words, running has taught me some lessons about writing.

Like:

  1. Some days are really great. And it’s true. On some runs, I feel like an Olympian. Same with writing. When the words pour forth as if inspired from On High, those are good days indeed.
  2. Some days are directly the opposite of this. My legs burn, my head is clouded. I’m a mess. In writing I spend the day looking at a jumbled up flood of letters that make not a lick of sense, and inelegantly at that.
  3. I do it anyway. Either way. I never know what it’s going to be like, really, until I start. And when I start, I’m sure as heck not going to stop. And so I go. I run. I write. Whether I know I’ll end with something useful or not.
  4. There is always at least one small benefit. Maybe, as I run, I think of the perfect sentence or a solution to a problem. Or maybe I just get one blissful hour to myself. At the end of a stretch of writing, I know that not ALL of it was a complete waste of time.
  5. The more I do it, the better I get. Time was, running to the end of my street without a defibrillator seemed like a really bad idea. In the same vein, I’d be awfully embarrassed to share my high school poetry journal.
  6. It’s okay to have a partner. I love to run alone. I love to run with my running buddy. Some days I need her to prop me up, and other days, I prefer solitude. It’s okay to share your work with someone you trust. Choose your running buddy and your writing pals with the same attention to detail as you’d use to choose your spouse.

The list goes on and on. I’ll share some more next week. What would you add?


Leave a comment

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

10 thoughts on “Seven Things I Learned about Writing from Running

  • Addie Zierman

    I’m not a huge runner (wish I were), but I loved this line: “I never know what it’s going to be like, really, until I start.” How true.

    So often I psych myself out about something I’m writing, when really, if I’d just sit down with my notebook, I’d be in a much better place.

    • Jennifer Post author

      I am ever so slightly embarrassed that you came over here before I properly formatted my list of seven things. But, I’m glad you’re here!

      I psych myself out all the time, in both arenas. Running 20 miles tomorrow for the first time and all I can think is “this is nuts.” Sitting at the computer typing away, I bat away a little voice that says, “You really stink.”

      Basically, you and Nike: Just do it.

  • Nicole L Bates

    I’m not sure there’s anything to add, you pretty much covered it! I do know that when I walk in the door from a run I almost always rush to nearest pen and paper to scribble madly all of the ideas that came to me while my mind had a chance to wander along with my legs. I love that you used your comment and turned it into a great post!

    • Jennifer Post author

      I finally added a link to your twitter page. Thanks for stopping by. I often think I’m going to jump right in the shower, but instead I sit, like you, in my stinking running gear writing down my ideas before they disappear.

      I have seven more to share next week!

  • ed cyzewski

    Lots of great writing advice here. I used to swim laps and it was always so hard to start, but after the first 5-10 minutes, I always hit some sort of stride. Writing is a lot like that for me!