What Running Injuries Taught Me About Writing
Last fall I injured myself…twice!
You may know from reading the blog that in addition to being an author I am a martial artist. But did you know I’m also a lifelong runner? My love for running started in the 6th grade with track. In middle school, I found road races and cross country. I ran competitively in high school and lettered in cross country, indoor tack, and outdoor track every year for all fours years earning a total of 12 varsity letters. I was recruited to a Division I university where I competed mostly in the 800, 1500, and 3000 meters as well as cross country. I even met my husband at a road race! Over the years we’ve run many races together—at our own paces, of course, as he’s a lot faster than me. I’ve run trail races, tough mudders, and a few half marathons. I had even trained for a marathon and completed my first twenty mile training run…and then I got injured.
What does this have to do with writing? Stick with me.
As any athlete who is sidelined by injury knows, taking time off is hard. What’s even harder is training again after you’ve lost your cardiovascular fitness. It’s like starting from scratch. Fortunately, my time off wasn’t long, and I was running okay for a 47 year old lady. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get my fitness level back to where I wanted before injury struck again this fall. Twice!
I had a tear in my right posterior tibial tendon—an overuse injury—and a pulled left hamstring—from sprinting across the field when I was injured. duh! These injuries benched me for six months!! This was the longest time in my life that I went without running. When I started again—very slowly—my cardio was nonexistent.
Running still hurts.
The weather in NJ is getting warmer, and yesterday was a perfect day for a nice run in shorts and a tank top. I was able to run two miles slow, walk .3, run another mile, and walk .2 for a total distance of 3.5 miles. It hurt. It was slow. I was winded. But it was better than not running at all.
By now, you’re probably demanding to know what this has to do with writing.
Well, this past Tuesday I finished writing my September release, Wilde Temptation, and sent it off to my editor (yay!). As I was running I reflected on how my writing habits changed as I neared the end of the story. I wrote 5 – 6 days and averaged 5600 words per week. And then one day I wrote 5,006 words in a single day that started at 9:30AM and continued for 17 hours until 2:30AM. The story flowed because I knew where everything was heading, but when I hit the last scene of the last chapter, I hit the wall. I just couldn’t stay awake. I slept for 4 hours and finished the book in the morning, but it took a toll on my body. I was exhausted for a few days after.
Yesterday, as I was running and feeling good about turning in my project, I couldn’t help compare these two activities. Since I hadn’t run in a week due to total “book focus” I discovered what little cardio I had gained from a month of training was lost again.
Isn’t that the same with writing? When you take too much time off, it’s difficult to get back into the swing of things.
Running and writing (and probably most everything else) seems to benefit me most when I do it with consistency and balance. When I find myself stepping away from the writing to do marketing, social media, live or virtual events, newsletters, blogs, etc, I find it’s harder to get back into the swing of things.
It’s like I have to retrain my brain to write.
I do better when I am consistent, and I don’t feel like I’m tearing my body down.
My goal going forward is to work on consistency (my martial arts side is thinking balance) in writing. It’s a matter of finding the perfect amount of words I can write each day that will offer benefits rather than hindrance. I am keeping track, and it appears 5000 words a week is doable.
What goals do you set for yourself? Are you balanced with splitting your writing time with other activities? Have you ever wrote so much (over trained) that you needed time off to recharge and heal? Leave your thoughts in the comments.
Stay safe out there!