I’m spending the majority of my time lately doing one of two things: running and writing. Okay, maybe it’s actually four things, running, writing, thinking about running and thinking about writing.
I’m just finishing my spring marathon and starting the planning for my fall marathon. I’m writing blog posts, and have just started work on my first book.
At first glance, these hobbies may seem entirely different. One is almost entirely physical, while the other is entirely mental. But the more time I spend doing (and considering) these two things, the more similarities I see.
Running and Writing: More Alike Than You May Think
Both Are Simple, But Rarely Easy
Running is one of the most straightforward things imaginable. You put one foot in front of the other. Repeat.
Writing is just as straight forward. Put down words on a piece of paper.
But both things, for being as simple as they are, can be deceptively difficult. Your brain will fool you into wanting to quit a run before you are physically spent. Forming a cohesive and thoughtful sentence can require draft after draft after draft.
Being ‘simple’ and being ‘easy’ are two very different things. Both running and writing are the former, but rarely the latter.
Both Are Things That Many People Want To Do, But Few Are Willing To Commit To
I don’t have the specific statistics to back this up, but I’d say two of the most common goals people have (but never commit to or complete) are running a marathon and writing a book.
Most don’t complete these goals because they are both really hard. They both take commitment and perseverance.
Sticking it out in the boring bits and the hard bits. When the fun has long past and only the real work is left to do.
Both are totally worth it, but not everyone is willing to stick it out.
Both Benefit From Consistency
If you show up regularly and put in the work, you will get better.
You can’t think, plan or consider your way into progress in either arena. You need to show up and do the work.
You can’t show up on the morning of a marathon and complete the race if you haven’t put in the hours to get your body ready for it.
You can’t publish a book without endless hours of outlining, creating terrible drafts and working them into a final product that isn’t entirely terrible.
There Are No Shortcuts
If you want to run a marathon, you need to go out and run mile after mile in training. If you want to write a book, you need to spend hours with your laptop (or a pen), with your butt in your seat, coming up with word after word.
There is no other way, there is no magic elixir solution that will get you get to the finish without it.
You can’t fake it.
Both Require Self-Awareness
You need to know what your body requires to stay healthy to both run and to write.
You need to know the difference between just wanting to quit because it’s hard and needing to take a break before you burn out. Only you can know what the difference is for you.
What is a running funk that you need to push through and is borderline burnout? When do you totally bail on a blog post that isn’t coming together and when do you just need to step away from the keyboard for a bit?
You need to listen to what your body is telling you and respond accordingly and appropriately.
Both Benefit From Solitude
One of the surest ways to find self-awareness is to wallow in solitude (at least occasionally).
Running with a group is great for distractions during a long run, and spending time with friends is a great stress relief (and a great source of material). But there is no replacement for spending time with your own thoughts. listening to your mind and your body.
Added bonus that time running alone creates a frame of mind that is perfect for generating ideas and connecting thought that you otherwise wouldn’t have considered. It happens to me on almost every run.
It happens to me on almost every run.
When You Do Them Right, You Are Left Feeling A Little (or a lot) Drained
The activities themselves couldn’t be more different, but the feeling I have after a really good long run, and a few hours of focused writing are surprisingly similar.
A long run will leave me physically drained. A long writing session will leave me emotionally and mentally drained.
In both cases, it’ a wonderful drained feeling, but I’m drained, not the less.