For decades, I hated running. Now I love it. IMHO, writing and running are sole mates.
(See what I did there? I saw the writerly opportunity and I ran with it.)
Running has transformed my body and my writing. It can do the same for you. Here's how:
All that you endure makes you better at enduring. If you run a marathon, for example, you will likely often find yourself saying, "I can do this," because in the back of your mind you're also saying, "This ain't as hard as a marathon."
Running requires long hours. Sacrifice. Perseverance. Pushing against pain. Discipline. Writing requires the same. The discipline you develop through your running will be discipline you can leverage in your writing.
The runner's high is no myth. Run five miles or more, and you will feel a pervading sense of calm that banishes anxiety for the rest of the day. This will get you in the zone, ready to focus, ready to write.
If you have never experienced it, you almost can't fathom the amount of energy running can give you. It's like a miracle. More energy = more time writing. If you were to run for, say, 5 hours a week, I'd estimate your ROI to be at least 10 hours of amazing productivity.
Running (re)connects your mind and your body. Running outside (re)connects you with nature. Your mood will change, and you will more easily (re)connect with others, acknowledging our shared humanity. It will get your blood flowing, which will help to connect your thoughts, unlock story problems and ignite possibilities.
Running shakes up your world. It changes your routines. It makes you look differently at yourself and what is possible. Such new perspectives translate to writing. You will begin to make a habit of viewing things from multiple angles. Your stories need this.
Running long requires planning. What to wear? What to eat? How long to allow for traffic, parking, getting to the starting corral, stretching and warming up? What time to set the alarm for? What songs to include in the running playlist? You will get good at this juggling. Writing requires a similar juggling. Characters, plot, subplot, foreshadowing, theme: planning required.
It's hard to underestimate the importance of confidence. Without it, things just go wrong. Confidence is like an invisible hand lifting you up wherever you go. Running brings confidence because it makes you feel at your best: fitter, stronger, healthier, happier. That confidence will keep you focused, which will keep you writing and help you to overcome writer's block and other such obstacles to your success.
Momentum is built on small victories. Each daily run is a minor triumph. Even the bad runs feel good, most of the time. You'll feel proud of yourself, like you're getting somewhere. And then you will.
Running long is so repetitive and that runners are forced to learn to pace themselves. You might, for example, be used to running 5 miles for your regular training runs; and once you're in the midst of a 50K race you might tell yourself, "That's only six regular runs plus 1 mile." This skill of breaking a task into less threatening components and then pounding away at each component, one step at a time, is very helpful for a writer. A novel, for example, can be subdivided into 3 Acts, into the 12 stages of the hero's journey, into chapters, into scenes, into paragraphs. Pacing yourself in this way makes the daunting do-able.
Once you believe in yourself, excuses and limits begin to fall away. Running teaches you how to improve. So improve you do. Belief changes everything. Writers also need belief. To start, to finish, to share. To keep on keeping on.
Life is an adventure to be savored. Runners are in the habit of fashioning adventures in all kinds of places: city, country, pavement, trail, valley, mountain, snow, desert. Day and night. Year round. Writing creates new worlds. The writing is the discovery of those worlds, which is its own kind of adventure. If you run, you just might find yourself addicted to adventure. Your characters and stories will be colored by this colorful disposition. They'll be bigger and bolder and more awe-inspiring. Your readers will be all the happier to join you for the ride.
Are you still determined to hate running? Do you swear you will only do so if being chased by a bear or a zombie? Good. That means you'll be running your first marathon this time next year. Like Forrest Gump, you'll be saying, "I just felt like running."
Writer, reader, runner, teacher, father, infp, huffleclaw.