April 7

What running a marathon taught me about my latest endeavor

You don’t jump out of bed one day and run 26.2 miles

I can’t say that it’s never been done.  In fact, I am sure that someone out there has done even better than that, but it’s definitely not the typical way of going about it.  I spent roughly 20 years thinking that I should run a marathon, but it was not until I made up my mind that I was doing it, signed up for the race, and adhered to a training program that it actually happened.  I signed up for Grandma’s Marathon five months before race day.  In the days that followed, I trained nearly everyday.  I followed a program, and even when the weather was bad, or I was tired, or I had partied too hard the night before, I ran.  I knew that if I didn’t follow my program, I would face disaster on race day.  I would show up unprepared.

You don’t jump out of bed one day and write a masterpiece

I can’t say that it’s never been done.  In fact, I am sure that someone out there has done even better than that, but it’s definitely not the typical way of going about it.  (Are you beginning to see a trend here?)  I spent more than 20 years thinking that I wanted to be a writer.  In fact, I have known on some level that I wanted to write since I first entered school.  Just as I did with the marathon, I spent many years thinking about it.  When I was thinking about the marathon all those years, all I was doing was thinking.  I was not doing what now seems totally obvious – running.  When I was thinking about writing all those years, all I was doing was thinking.  I was not doing what now seems totally obvious – writing.

Sure there was dabbling along the way…

I worked out here and there logging the occasional mile or two, and I did some writing here or there.  I even spent a couple of years writing for my hometown newspaper – a gig I loved even if I wasn’t demonstrating the attributes of the employee of the month – ever.

Here is the thing though, to get really good at anything in life you have to be all in.  Michael Phelps doesn’t swim a lap or two every other Tuesday.  To become the most decorated Olympian of all time, he swam.  Everyday.  Stephen King’s books take up several shelves at my local Barnes and Noble.  He writes.  Everyday.  The people who succeed in their careers show up and go above and beyond.  Everyday.

Almost anyone can relate to this.  You decide you’re going to lose a “few” pounds, so you make the decision that you are going to diet and exercise.  You don’t make a plan of what you are going to eat everyday, you just try to eat “better.”  You don’t make a plan of what your exercise routine is going to look like, you are just going to “try to get to the gym.”  At the outset, you might lose a pound or two, because you skipped dessert or something, but in no time you have fallen back into your old routines and forgotten all about why you cared about those few pounds anyway.

Benjamin Franklin

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”

Benjamin Franklin

This pretty much says it all.  The people who lose the weight are the ones who determine how much weight they are going to lose, by when, and what that will take.  They plan what they’re going to eat, so that they can get the groceries, prepare ahead of time, and purge their kitchen of ding dongs.  They schedule their gym time onto their calendars as they would any other appointment, and they stick to it.
I finally learned about planning when I prepared to race.  You don’t “find the time” to go out and get in your 18-mile practice run.  You plan it, and then you do it.  So, in running, I became a runner.

Doing is Being

Ray Bradbury

Doing is being.

To have done’s not enough.

To stuff yourself with doing — that’s the game.

To name yourself each hour by what’s done,

To tabulate your time at sunset’s gun

And find yourself in acts

You could not know before the facts

You wooed from secret self, which much needs wooing,

So doing brings it out,

Kills doubt by simply jumping, rushing, running

Forth to be

The new-discovered me.

To not do is to die,

Or lie about and lie about the things

You just might do some day.

Away with that!

Tomorrow empty stays

If no man plays it into being

With his motioned way of seeing.

Let your body lead your mind –

Blood the guide dog to the blind;

So then practice and rehearse

To find heart-soul’s universe,

Knowing that by moving/seeing

Proves for all time: Doing’s being!

This leads me back to my original point.  I am a writer, because I write.  However, I will never get any better at it, and achieve what I hope to achieve until I follow a plan.  I certainly will never get any better at it if I don’t sit down and write.  I don’t know why practicing my craft has seemed for so long an indulgence rather than a necessity, but thanks to my experience with running, I can more clearly envision the race I am training for now.

 


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Posted April 7, 2015 by R.C. Brophy in category "Daily Writing Practice

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