I recently finished Haruki Murakami’s memoir What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. I was anxious to read it because I took up running recently. First, let me backup and give you a history of my running. I first ran in my 20s when I was considering signing up for a self-awareness training called The Mile. I was intimidated to take it knowing that I’d have to run a mile every morning, so I decided to train for it (I never did do the course). I started by running just a couple of blocks and I built up to running two miles. Later, when I was 27, I was inspired by my sister-in-law, who had run five marathons, to train for the LA Marathon. I joined a training group and made it through our 20-mile run before I injured my knee so badly that I couldn’t run five miles. It broke my heart not to run the race, but I figured it wasn’t worth risking knee surgery to satisfy my ego. Since then, I’ve gone through phases when I run two to three miles a couple of times a week for a couple of months, and then I get bored and quit. I was running two miles three times a week when I got pregnant last year and kept that up until my fifth month. After I had my baby, I started to run again, this time with the intent to train for a half marathon—a very difficult, hilly half marathon. Since all I do besides take care of kids is run and write, I was anxious to read Murakami’s memoir.
I liked the memoir, but it offered very little insight about writing. It’s mostly a book of essays about running, the greatest correlation to writing being that you need to be disciplined enough to do it every day, whether you feel like it or not. You need to endure the pain, and you need to be willing to go the long haul.
When I’m running a long distance, like eight or ten miles, I ALWAYS, at some point, have an overwhelming urge to lie down and take a nap. Maybe it’s because I don’t get enough sleep. Maybe it’s because I don’t train enough (I run three days a week), or maybe it’s because I’m getting old, but I rarely feel that runner’s high that makes me feel like I could run all day. I mostly feel exhausted. But I keep running. I keep running because I made a commitment to myself to keep running. If I say I’m going to run 10 miles, I run 10 miles. I have never run less than I intended to run. I’ve run slower, and I’ve walked at times, but I’ve always achieved my goal. And that’s good training for writing. Keep at it, no matter how difficult, no matter how much pain, no matter how badly you’d rather like down and take a nap. Just keep going. Because you’ve committed to that. And you keep your commitments. (Or do you? I’m going to write another post about commitments.)
So you tell me, DO you keep your commitments? If yes, what helps you get through the hours when you feel like lying down and taking a nap? If no, why not?