Tag Archive for: running

Running and Writing

       By guest author, Jennifer Klepper

     I love the name of this group of writers: The Stiletto Gang. It’s sexy and fierce, and while the Stiletto Gang probably doesn’t actually wear stilettos while they’re writing their books (do they?), I can easily imagine them traipsing about in their spiked heels and drinking martinis after they’ve put their keyboards away for the day.
Seeing the sparkly stiletto on the page made me think of my own newest pair of shoes–purple and orange (yikes!) Brooks trail running shoes. They have a grabby sole for traversing unfriendly ground cover, they’re sturdy to help keep the ankles from twisting, and they are frightfully clunky-looking. Pretty much the opposite of stilettos.
The reason I even have these trail shoes is my writing. Next week, my debut novel, Unbroken Threads, officially releases. So of course I signed up to run my very first trail race and my very first 10k three days prior to launch. Why in the world would I do that? (I’ve asked myself this numerous times, including the day I sprained my ankle on an errant broken branch.) 
As any writer can attest, you have to sit on your duff to write. Not just that, but you have to sit on your duff an awful lot for an awful long time to write, revise, and edit a novel. Let’s just say my muscle tone hasn’t kept up with my word count.
Scheduling a virgin run right ahead of my launch was tactical. I knew my summer would be nerve-wracking, with the prospect of my book baby being thrown to the wolves–I mean, world–in August. Having a goal, one totally and completely different from writing and publishing a book, seemed a mentally healthy diversion. Plus there was that muscle tone thing.
What I’ve learned in the ensuing weeks is that…running and writing? Not necessarily totally and completely different. Runners on the whole might look better in yoga pants, and writers might be better at Words with Friends, but the process and the experience of each have at least a few important things in common. 
1.     Writing and running are both solitary endeavors. Both activities require you to be in your own head, pursuing your own goal. Neither is typically a team sport. No one can run your hills for you and no one can cut 10,000 words from your draft for you. 
2.     And yet, writing and running both benefit from their supportive communities. Ah, the writing community! I love it so much and have gained friends and knowledge and good vibes. I’m starting to see the same in the running community. Established runners have been enthusiastic in their support and patient in their advice, whether it’s recommending I use bag balm on my feet (since I have to run through a river, of all things) or assuring me it’s perfectly acceptable to walk part of the race (I will).
3.     There’s always a “better.” Running and writing start small–first mile, first chapter, but no matter the achievement, there’s always another shiny goal glinting in the distance. Did you finish a marathon? Well, how about winning your age group? How about running fast enough to qualify for Boston? Did you write a complete manuscript? How about getting a multi-book deal with a Big 5 publisher? How about making the NY Times bestseller list? The pursuit can be exhausting and never-ending–the shiny horizon will always stay out of reach.
4.     And yet, just doing the thing–finishing the race, writing The End on a first draft–is a tremendous achievement. I will not forget that. Ever. None of us should. No matter how far you get (qualify for the Boston Marathon or get a multi-book deal with St. Martin’s Press), that first achievement of finishing a race or finishing a draft is what got you there in the first place, and it’s much farther than most people to begin with.
5.     Finally, each activity needs another activity for balance. Any activity that taxes the body or mind needs a complementary activity to keep us fresh. Just as strained muscles and tendons need a break, so do word-wrestling brains. Allowing ourselves to focus on a different aspect of ourselves, to exercise a different aspect of ourselves, permits recovery as well as growth.

            So, within a week (if all things proceed as planned), I will have finished my first 10K and published my first book. And then I will continue working on my second book. Maybe I’ll train for a 15K, who knows? No matter what, though (and I know I won’t be able to run for as many years as I’ll be able to write), I’ll maintain some balance and try to ensure that I always have good shoes while I’m doing it.


Who Says Women Can’t Run That Far?
by Bethany Maines

It’s Olympics time again. To me the Olympics always
represent passion, competition, the wonder of the human body, and the
indomitable human spirit. And of course, the Three Stooges.
When I was a kid my family didn’t own a TV (yes, I lived in
the Jurassic Era) and we would rent one just for the Olympics. I remember that
coverage started at 2pm and from then until about midnight we could turn on the
set and watch the magnificence of Sport. 
We would promptly become engrossed in the minutiae of steeple chase,
rowing, archery or whatever other sport was on that day. We would debate
passionately over the merits of athletes and sports that moments before we
hadn’t even heard of. Practically the only thing that was agreed on in the
Maines house was that Rhythmic Gymnastics, while attractive in away, was not a
During those years my father was attempting to qualify for
the Olympic women’s marathon. Not that he had any gender confusion, but he was
a running enthusiast and when the very first women’s Olympic marathon
qualifying time was announced he thought that the time was almost within his
reach and he made it his goal. And yes, you did read that correctly; I did say
the “very first” qualifying time. Until the 1984 Olympics there was no women’s
Olympic marathon, and for much of the history of Olympics women were thought to
be incapable of running that distance. My family actually traveled down to
Oregon to watch the Olympic qualifying run of women marathoners for the ’84
Olympics Team. Sports can be about more than just scoring points and sometimes
just running is a political statement.  
The 1984 Olympics also marked a first of another kind. I
persuaded my mom to let me camp out in the living room with the TV and I woke
up early and found a show on the television that I had never seen before. One
man made funny noises, that one hit the bald one, and that one tried to poke
the other one in the eye. They
were HILARIOUS. At least, that’s what I told my mom. Sadly, my mother
apparently didn’t appreciate their hilarity, or my loud laughter, at six in the
morning and I was banished back up to my bedroom.
Those halcyon days were too good to last; soon broadcasters
decided to add less coverage of fewer sports with double helpings of schmaltz.
For a few years we were able to stave off the incredible crap of the American
Olympics by watching the Canadian coverage (a benefit of living in a border
state), but sadly with each Olympics the broadcasters get a little more savvy
about how to make us watch more commercials and less events. Which is not to
say that there haven’t been some improvements – NBC showed the women’s marathon
in its entirety. This year it was won by Ethiopian Tiki Gelena in 2 hours 23
minutes and 7 seconds. That’s a
new Olympic record. 

Statistical Addiction

by Bethany Maines

Hi, I’m Bethany, and I have a statistical addiction.  What?  This isn’t Statistics Anonymous?  Well, I might as well confess anyway – seeing as I’m already here and among friends.

Recently I took all of my stats on running since 2004 and collated them into one spreadsheet and then I turned them into multiple graphs.  Reading that sentence, might make you think that I’m some sort of competitive runner who’s constantly out doing races and vying for some sort of top women’s ranking in the state.  Let’s just be clear about this… No.  I’m a slow to middling runner who did cross-country in high school.  But I keep track of run distances, times, and routes.  If you wanted to know I could tell you where I was running on this day in 2007.  You probably don’t want to know though.
What I really am is stat obsessed.  I’m also running a Facebook ad for my latest novel, Compact With the Devil.  Who wants to guess how many times a day I check the click through rates on that puppy?  Yeah… a lot.
For those who’ve never attempted to advertise on Facebook, the process is fairly simple. Ads are the little squares that appear on the right hand side of your FB page suggesting that you like them or whatever.  You can target an ad to geographic areas, genders and age-range, and then select the types of things they’d be interested in.  Action-adventure movies and literature/reading were a couple of my topics.  Then the ad goes out and FB puts up statistics on how many people you’ve “reached” (individual viewers of the ad), how many times they’ve seen the ad, and how many people have clicked on your ad.  That’s what I’m interested in – the click through rate.  But I have to admit it’s not just because I’m hoping that a click equals a sale; it’s also because I’m stat-obsessed.
What if I kept track of my tooth brushing patterns for a year?  What fascinating statistics would appear on duration of brushing time, brushing location and toothpaste preference?  Probably the answer is absolutely none.  But I’ll tell you what I have learned from all my stats… just how in control they make me feel.  By carving up the world into little tiny numbers, I feel ever so much more in command.  I feel like I winner every time I run more miles than I did last month because I have totally triumphed over Past Bethany.  In the race against myself I am totally winning (as long as I’m not racing 2007 Bethany – she ran a lot, but 2009 Bethany I’m totally stomping.)  The feeling is a complete illusion of course, but I feel like if I gather up all the little numbers I will some day be able to ultimately control everything!!!  Whu ha ha ha!! <- evil laugh.
Now… somebody talk me down and tell me to stop hitting refresh on the FB stat page.

In My Mind, I Run Like a Kenyan

Rachel Brady

Lee Child made what I thought was an interesting remark at Left Coast Crime earlier this month. Paraphrasing, it was that the fun part of writing is the daydreaming, and that the hard part is getting the words onto the page.

Ain’t that the blazing truth.

I’ve been thinking about that remark for weeks. Somehow I’ve had the notion all this time that getting words onto the page is easier for everyone else than it is for me. Given a choice, I’d rather visualize scenes hundreds of different ways than actually sit down and write one down. Why? Because the version I choose might not work, and then I’d have to cut all those pages.

I know: “Get over it.”

But still.

It takes a long time to put down thousands of words. Cutting them is hard. Why not decide first how I want the book to go, by daydreaming through dozens of plot lines, and then writing down the version I decide is best? For me, daydreaming is oodles more fun than typing words. Many writers say they have to write, that they are addicted to writing. Not me. I’m addicted to daydreaming.

A few years ago, David Morrell shared an interesting story about daydreaming that I’ll never forget. Coupled with this new statement by Lee Child, I grow hopeful now that my Writer Imposter Complex might possibly be unfounded.

The keyboard does not call me. I don’t get a charge out of putting down the words. My charge is always in the imagining.

In this regard, I fervently hope that my future as a writer will parallel my history as a runner. There was a time I did not enjoy running. The only thing I liked about it was how I felt afterward, and fortunately that feeling was good enough to keep me lacing up and coming back. Writing, the actual act, is a little like that for me now. Making a synopsis, staring at a blinking cursor, struggling for a word, or figuring out the best way to express an emotion is often frustrating. As with my running years ago, writing is frequently painful while I’m doing it. But, like the running, I feel an indescribable sense of accomplishment when it’s over. Huge. It’s the buzz that keeps me coming back.

Twenty years later, I’m still running. Now I actually love the run while I’m doing it. I feel disappointed when I miss a run and I’m always looking forward to the next one.

Today I’m daydreaming about a time when writing will feel like that.