Why Write a Blog about Running?

I’m almost fifty and started running five months ago. That’s the running part. It’s also the reality part of the title. Facing my limitations has been a big part of running for me. The writing part? Well, we’ll see about that. I’m hoping that writing about running will help me to get out of this writer’s block I’ve been in. I write fiction. At least that’s what I went to graduate school for—an MFA in Creative Writing: Fiction. I wrote some short stories, a few have been published. I wrote two novels–one is being read by a small press and I wait on pins and needles for their reply, and can’t seem to write and don’t have any new ideas for novels or short stories. And one novel, will never see the light of day if I can help it.

The idea for this blog (or possibly a book) came to me while I was running. Not a big surprise. I seem to have endless ideas when I’m running. I become inspired about different things or if I can’t make up my mind about something I run and then at some point—there’s the answer, some great intuitive thought I hadn’t seen before. I’ve had people ask me recently “what’s your passion?” or “What do you love?” (both questions were asked in reference to my “career change,” job-search, which I will refer to again when I talk more about the “reality” aspect of this three-pronged blog/book). I didn’t have an answer, except for “writing” which of course, when I think of writing I am thinking of fiction, not necessarily essays (which I hate, even though I teach them to college Freshmen) or even non-fiction which I have basically avoided like the plague. What hit me when I was ruminating along this line of what I like to do or feel passionate about as being important, I thought “well, I have been really into running lately.”  Then it occurred to me that I could write about running.

The idea of me writing about running is laughable. I don’t run marathons. I have finished three 5K races since I started running five months ago. One, I walked most of, the second, I came in at 35:39 minutes, the third, was even slower at 36:43 minutes, putting me just ahead of the walkers and behind the runners. I’m a novice. A beginner. And yes, at least I’m running. I’m out there pounding the pavement, or a dirt trail, or grassy park, three to four times a week. I average seven miles a week—at least I was until I had to “slow down” a bit because I was pushing it, apparently and my calves started hurting (a weird inner calf thing that I’m afraid might be shin splints—hello, reality check) and I was advised by a friend who is a nurse, and who runs, to stretch more, maybe take yoga, to cool down longer—all of which I am doing. So, there you have it. I don’t really qualify for writing a book about running, so if you are a long distance runner, an elite runner, you may want to gently place this back on the shelf and move on. It’s fine, really. My feelings won’t be hurt. There are plenty of blogs for serious runners. I appreciate the interest, but I think you’ll be happier…there you go.

 O.K. Now that they are out of the room we can really talk. The truth is, I hated running when I was younger and had been forced to do it by P.E. teachers and volleyball coaches. I’ve never been particularly athletic, except for being on the volleyball team in high school and the first year of college. That’s was really kind of a fluke. I hated when they made us run the stairs—sheer torture! I tried running a few times in my twenties to “get into shape” or lose weight but never made it more than a few blocks and thought I would die on the spot. Plus, I was convinced it was bad for my back. All that jarring. It was miserable.

In my late thirties, I started walking. Long walks for 20 or 30 minutes that would leave my body relaxed and my mind calm. I also discovered the elliptical machine. I loved it! I got up to 20 minutes on it and it felt good, without the pain of running. The thing was, though, that I started envying people who could run. I’d watch them go by and feel a surge of jealousy, a pang of desire, I’m not sure what it was, but my thought would be: “I wish I could run.” It didn’t seem fair that some people where made to run and others had to plod the earth at a brisk walk if one was lucky.

Then somehow, at the age of forty-eight, I started to run. One minute at a time. I would walk a minute, run a minute, walk a minute run a minute. Up to seven repetitions. I found this training plan online. It worked. I ran seven minutes total and I did this for two weeks, three times, then after that I went up to two minutes, then three, then four…you get the picture. This took about three months until I was running 30 minutes straight without stopping. How I stuck to it, I’m not completely sure, although I did have a lot of help from my partner who is a dedicated runner, but still, it was me who started this running business. Who decided that maybe, just maybe I could run a little bit.

Ah, you’re thinking, so this is a self-help blog, an “I did it, you can do it too,” blog.  I’m not sure what it is. Maybe partly that. I think I’m just surprised as hell that I’m running and I have to tell someone about it. If it helps you , that’s great. I think it’s more of an exploration for me, at least at this point. Running, besides helping me drop some weight, tone up, and get tons of compliments, feel confident, relaxed and grounded, has also opened my mind. If I can run for thirty minutes when all of my life I thought I could not run like other people, then maybe, just maybe there are other things I didn’t think I could to that I can do.  There are too many realizations, epiphanies, going on for me when I’m running, not to write them down. This is a kind of journal for me, a log of my running process, if you will.

I do keep a log, a runner’s log—my running partner  has kept one for years and suggested that I do so. I think that was one of the main components of my success. I was able to look back and see my progress, feel motivated to keep going, track my improvements, my pain, my moods. It’s been interesting to look at my life through this lens. Most of the time I feel like I’m in someone else’s body. I am not the kind of person who would do this, but there it is, the proof that I’ve been running for five months! And getting better each month. How far can this go? Surely, there are limitations. I mean after all, I’m only human. If you’re interested in starting running this blog might be for you. If you run regularly you might also like it, relate to it .If you’re a writer who is working to get unstuck, it may interest you as well. And then, if you’re just struggling with accepting reality on a regular basis (like I am) it might be useful. It’s part running log, part writing exercise, and part daily reflection with a focus on being in the present.