I'm training to run an adventure race during the first week of June. I started training in March and have progressed from brief jogs interspersed with bouts of walking to three-mile runs. These runs are not pretty. They aren't fast. I end them red-faced and soaked in sweat. I end them tired and giddy and amazed I finished.
I'm no endurance athlete. When I was a kid, I was a sprinter; my longest races, 200 meter dashes. The fact that I can run at any pace for longer than half a minute delights me, but I still have a sprinter's mindset. I look ahead to the turn-around point on my route or at the read-out on the treadmill and think, "Crap, there's that much ahead of me yet? Shouldn't this be over?"
To make it to the run's end, I stop thinking ahead and focus on the moment at hand. Such mindfulness has been a useful exercise as well. Noticed and released, thoughts pass through me. For someone always worrying and plotting and analyzing, that is freedom.
My writing is more fluid on those days when I've exercised. New solutions to plot snags come to mind without my chasing them; characters and settings come to life.
Joyce Carl Oates writes eloquently about the connections between running and writing: To Invigorate Literary Mind, Start Moving Literary Feet. I wonder if most writers share this urge for movement. Or are we simply masochists?