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Running and Writing

Off and on during my adult life (starting in high school, so pre-adult life too) I have been a runner.  Among the side effects of running is not only is it a fine cardiovascular workout, which improves circulation, pumping more blood through the system, including the brain, and that should be good for writing and thinking, but it also can be the perfect time to work through plot problems or generate ideas.  I remember that I read an interview in Locus with Connie Willis, and then went on a run.  Something she said turned over in my head a few times during the run, and by the time I got back home, I had the complete story for "Nor a Lender Be," which Analog bought.

Unfortunately, I've been in the "off" period of my running for about a year, after running solidly for over two years.  I'm not sure what got me off the running regimen exactly, but going to the hospital for a kidney stone (boulder) removal seems to have been the precipitating event.

I bring this up because tonight was my second run in a row after not running for months and months.  I've put on twenty (thirty) pounds, and I'm not any younger.  The entire workout was painful and sad.

But I had a good idea during one of the gasping, shuffling, walking sessions in between the horrible, staggering running stretches.  I'm looking forward to writing it.

As I said, I'm twenty (thirty) pounds pounds overweight, and I'll never be a fast runner, but I like to do it.  It's a part of my effort to halt aging and never die.  As Garrison Keillor once said, "Sometimes you have to look reality firmly in the eye and deny it."

Here's a picture of one of the places I frequently run.  I can go low and stay at the canyon bottoms, or take the high route with beautiful overlooks at every turn. 

The high school where I teach is out in the valley beyond the cliff walls in the picture.  No matter how rough a day might be, I can look up into the canyons as I drive home.  Most high school teachers don't have the same luxury.




( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 6th, 2007 03:10 am (UTC)
Wow - I can't believe you just posted this. The timing is uncanny. I used to run 35-50 miles a week during high school and college and loved it - then life got in the way and I quit. I recently started back up again and I've been amazed at how great it feels - I mean, once the pain has faded. :) And it does help me write - clears my mind, brings perspective, and helps work out the knots. I was just thinking about it!
Nov. 6th, 2007 04:08 am (UTC)
I think it's going to be a few weeks before I knock down the pain *g*. I'm heavy!

We have amazingly beautiful trails in Grand Junction. I'm five minutes away from the Colorado National Monument (a series of sandstone canyon), and BLM land riddled with great running tracks. I'll add a picture of some of the places I can run to the original post.
Nov. 6th, 2007 04:27 am (UTC)
Wow - gorgeous!

I just run around our farm and a few jogging trails around the area, but my brother-in-law runs all sorts of 10k and half-marathons around the state and he's offered to be my running partner in the spring. Gives me a few months to get my running legs back... :)
Nov. 6th, 2007 05:37 am (UTC)
Wow! That beats running on a treadmill any day :)
Nov. 6th, 2007 06:43 am (UTC)
Absolutely gorgeous. Seeing this first thing this morning stung tears of wonder to my eyes. When people ask if I miss the United States, this is the kind of vista that always pops to mind.

Do you have to take your car to get to this running spot?
Nov. 6th, 2007 01:14 pm (UTC)
One of the entrances into the Colorado National Monument is about four miles from my school, which is a run I've done several times, but to get to the base of Independence in the photograph, I drive to a trailhead about 10 minutes from the school.
Nov. 6th, 2007 11:13 am (UTC)
"Sometimes you have to look reality firmly in the eye... and deny it."

That's always been my favourite Keillor quote.
Nov. 6th, 2007 04:23 pm (UTC)
I ran through high school and college, and in the last year have been training for ultras. I ran my first 50k in September. My running was sporatic before I regained by training focus. Coincidentally, so was my writing. I've found that there's a perfect balance for both running and writing, and if I fall out of balance with either, they both suffer.

What a great view. I'd love to have trails like that by my house.

And yes, the pain will subside, and the good feelings of being in shape will return. Good luck!
Nov. 6th, 2007 06:40 pm (UTC)
Every time I have a break in fitness and then try to get going again, it is harder. I tell myself to never let go of the routine, but I do, and here I am, pushing 200 pounds, and I'm only 5'8". Sheesh.

I remember the first time I hit 180, panicked, and then trained myself down to the upper 150s. I swore I'd stay in shape forever. Not happening!
Nov. 6th, 2007 04:46 pm (UTC)
totally agree on the symbiotic relationship between writing and exercise. Generally I find if I run/swim two-three times a week, I am a lot more productive creatively. Partially because it's a good time to think but also just because my body feels so much more alive when I do exercise and my brain is more willing to put in the overtime that writing is. The real trick is (as I'm currently trying to do) stopping a week away from exercise devolve into a month or longer.
Nov. 10th, 2007 04:33 am (UTC)
I write while I run, too
In fact that's what I'm currently name my blog: The WriteRunner. (bad take-off on "The KiteRunner" which I haven't read)

I'm currently training for the Seattle Half Marathon txgiving weekend. I run about 5 hours a week, so that's a great time for thinking. Not only does it help me think, but I think that thinking helps me run.
my blog is at blog.dawnsrise.com
right now I'm blogging my NaNoWriMo piece so it's full of nonsense :)

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )