Run On Sentences

I enjoy writing and running. Whether writing for the Fix, or my poetry blog, or another project, I enjoy writing. Sometimes I run to train for an event, and other times I run just because I feel like it. The two activities seem more different than they are alike. However, as I accumulate more experience with both hobbies, I see more similarities.

Despite how much I enjoy running and writing, and the feeling that comes from completing them, I find myself trying to procrastinate starting them. I clean the house, I read, I cook … to watch me, one would think I hate running and writing. I have run a few marathons, and the hardest part is not the event; the hardest part is getting out the door and starting the training runs. The same can be said of writing. The hardest part is staring at the blank page and forcing myself to write those first few imperfect words that may not even be there on the final draft. I am always glad when I rebel against my own excuses. Excuses are easy; lacing up to run, and sitting down to write, are challenging. I would love to say my accomplishments are due to my determination and drive, but the truth is my accomplishments are due to my fooling my own brain with pressure (real and imagined), such as deadlines, and commitments to others. I commit to sharing my writing with a group, or I sign up for a 10k run – this is how I fool my brain into finding motivation.

I have a hard time calling myself a “Runner” or a “Writer.” The labels intimidate me. I imagine runners to be tall and lean and fit; I imagine writers sitting at solitary computer screens, writing profound masterpieces. I am growing past this but it takes baby steps. I started by saying things like, “I kind of write” and moved to calling myself, “an aspiring writer.” Today, I sometimes call myself a writer, even though sometimes I feel like an imposter. Running and writing are important parts of my life, but they fall far short of defining who I am the way the labels suggest.

Having all the proper gear (the quick drying short-shorts and the overpriced singlets) does not make a person a runner. Great gear might help make people feel like runners, and help them feel like hitting the trail, but running is what makes runners. If you run, you are a runner. The same is true for writing. Having all the books on writing, and a special desk, and going to literary events, though often part of a writer’s life, do not make the writer. The one thing all writers have in common is simple- they write.

For me, writing and running are both therapeutic, I can leave my stresses on the trail or on the page. They are both forms of expression, and they help me feel better. They are processes. Accepting that not all runs will be fast and amazing, and that not all poems or stories will be strong and evocative, helps me to enjoy running and writing more. I am okay with writing lame poems. It is not my goal, but I am learning that I usually need to write a lot of lame poems before I write one I consider strong.

Running benefits writing and vice versa. I use writing to explore my thoughts, to examine difficult issues. Sometimes this leaves me feeling low. Running helps me keep things in perspective. I can get zoned in on writing a poem, zoned in the way a child can zone in on drawing on an etch-a-sketch. Then I can run 5k and shake off the negativity, not unlike the child smiling and wildly shaking the etch-a-sketch to erase their imprinted lines. And my running helps my writing too. Often, my ideas come while I am out running on Burma Road, or Old Stumpy, or any of Fernie’s amazing trails.

Running and writing are complementary and while in some ways they are opposite, they are alike in many ways too. Thanks for reading my writing, and maybe I’ll see you out running on the trails.

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