After a long, tiring week, I’m at home with a bottle of wine and a boyfriend and a dog (that we’re sitting) and a sunset and a food coma. The temptation to unplug and zone out and watch whatever show J puts on is real. It’s hard opening up the laptop when I stare at my screen all day. It’s hard opening up the laptop when I want to veg out and not think. It’s hard opening the laptop when I don’t know what to write about or think that skipping a day wouldn’t really be that big of a deal.
Then I come back to running. I suppose at some point, the metaphor will fade away. But running is like that – such an appropriate metaphor for so much in life.
How many runs have I dragged myself out on when I don’t really want to or have temptations pulling me away? Have I ever regretted that? Never. I have never regretted a run I did. But I seriously still think about runs I did not do. Runs that could have been, runs that got away.
Maybe the metaphor falls apart because I can directly measure the benefits I get from running. There’s an endorphin rush, the feeling of air against my skin, the knowledge that my legs and heart and lungs are all getting stronger.
With writing, I don’t think I’ve yet hit that point. I’m still a beginner, struggling to get through even a few minutes, struggling the entire way to find my voice. It’s as if my lungs are on fire and legs are like lead even before I’ve clocked a mile.
But I didn’t become a better runner with one run. I had to start somewhere, and it wasn’t pretty. While I had been an athlete all my life, I never was a runner. I started running marathons in grad school, and my race time was about the same as my regular run time. I didn’t differentiate between easy days and steady-state days and long run days. They were all the same pace. Thirty miles in one week felt like I was doing nothing but running. Running got me out of the lab, running was a place where it was ok to be an introvert and be alone, and running was a balance. I felt a sense of accomplishment when I was done, and somewhere in all of those miles, I found myself loving to run. It wasn’t a single run, it wasn’t a single workout – it was the culmination of miles and time and sweat and blood and tears.
So I slog through getting words down, trying not to overthink or even edit, hoping that this exercise will be one small drop in the bucket of what will eventually overflow. When it overflows, it doesn’t make a splash, it merely becomes part of the normal flow of my life. It’s not a decision, it just is something I do. Something that makes me a better person. And, unlike running, I can do it with a glass of wine and banter with my boyfriend and a tangible product at the end. Un-edited and all.