Just keep turning up

I’ve been running for over a year now. In October 2012 I did my first ever parkrun. I walked more than I ran, and the weather was awful: howling gale off the sea, freezing cold, and I could hardly catch my breath. Since then, whenever I run in bad weather I always compare it to that first parkrun. I swear, it has never been as bad since.

The other week, though, it was windy and cold and started to rain, and I thought, “yeah, this is close. But it’s not as bad because I can breathe fine.” And then I realised that the difference wasn’t necessarily in the weather, it was in my level of fitness; that I’m so much fitter now than a year ago that it would have to be a much worse day to have the same effect on me.

My attitude to running has changed a lot in the past few weeks. I put this down to two things: one is that I joined the Jantastic challenge and am part of a team on there, so I log my runs for others to see and get to see how much running they’re doing, and compare scores. The other is that I’ve been running regularly with a friend, so whereas I might have looked out of the window and delayed for an hour, or for a day or so, having made that commitment I actually get out there and run, and enjoy it.

This has given me a whole bank of memories to build on: memories of runs where we’ve covered long distances, or run in the cold, or rain, or wind, or dark, and each time has been a positive experience. So now rather than relying on my first impression I call up those memories and remind myself that once I get out there it’s not so bad. I don’t always enjoy every minute of every run, but I know that I always feel better afterwards, and now I’m in the habit of running I find that I really miss it on rest days and it’s so much more a part of my life.

It’s the same with the swimming I’ve been doing over the past six months. I’m just in the habit now of getting up early and swimming for half an hour before I do anything else in the day. Sometimes I might not feel like it, and I promise myself that I’ll only do twenty minutes instead of thirty, but I usually find that by the time I’m there I’m happy to stay the full half hour.

So now I need to take all those lessons and apply them to my writing. Because once I’d pushed past that terrible procrastination yesterday to get my story edited, I couldn’t stop writing, and I enjoyed myself. I finished my story, did some work on my novel and then knocked out another thousand words that might get edited into another short story.

So my theory is that if I ignore all the screaming and shouting my brain does, and just get it to show up at the page regularly, I’ll build up a bank of memories and experiences about the pleasure of writing, rather than the pain of it, and the more I write the more stamina I’ll develop. So that just like running, when I push past the reluctance and enjoy it, I can do the same with the writing I know I really want to do. And just like running, my writing will improve when I just turn up to it regularly.



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