Three years shy of fifty I’m a relative late-comer to running. And this morning was the first time I’ve been out in three weeks. I was dreading it to be honest, but I knew something had to be done to break the slow apathy-induced self-destruction that was setting in.
Anyway all is well. Minutes after arriving back, stretching down and grabbing a glass of water I’m sitting at my desk composing a blog, which like my run, is long overdue.
It occurs to me that running and writing are not dissimilar. They are both physical activities – yes even putting pen to paper requires far more muscular energy than pointing the remote control at the telly – although understandably one of them incurs rather more breathlessness than the other.
They also enable the participant to tune into their inner landscape – mind and body. Recently I read an article about how runners need to be both associated and dissociated from their bodies as they run. First of all they need to be physically aware of their breathing, energy and strength, and possibly adapt their speed and style in order to feel as comfortable as possible in response. But also they need to practice mind over matter to a certain degree in order to keep going and not give in.
When we write reflectively a similar experience is available to us. Writing is far from a purely cerebral pastime. We can tune in to what the present moment is bringing us and how our senses are responding; we can interpret the messages our body is giving us; and we can abandon ourselves to the process, without thinking or judging too much.
And the thing that makes both writing and running easier, more enjoyable and probably more beneficial is to do both with a smile. Pounding the pavements with a grin on my face makes me look like the happiest person on the planet – which I may or may not be – but since smiling recruits less muscular energy than frowning or pouting it actually feels a whole lot less exhausting.
As for writing? It makes me smile anyway.