Silver Wordsmith: An author's journey
There’s something about me that has not come out on this blog often, if at all, though I have mentioned it elsewhere on social media. It is a deep and dark part of my personality that I sometimes tend to hide from the world lest I not be judged for it unfairly. And folks, this secret that I have been sort of not keeping from anyone is that I am in fact … a runner.
I know it’s quite shocking – as a writer I’m expected to be devoting all my time to strictly cerebral pursuits. I ought to be crafting myself into a tortured soul that subsists on nothing but ramen noodles and three-day old reheated dumplings, reading obscure Lithuanian authors well into the late hours of the night, only to sleep three hours and power through the day on seven cups of coffee and a pot of green tea I should have emptied a week ago. Instead, I sometimes set my alarm for 5:40 in the morning to go for a six kilometre run so that I can feel refreshed and energized for the day.
But seriously, I feel like I don’t talk enough about my running here, considering that it forms such an important part of my routine and is an essential element of managing my mental health.
First off, I want to clear the air about my first instinct when I say that I’m a runner – and that is that I want to clarify that I’m not like a “runner” runner. Why the hell do I want to do that, and what does it even mean? It actually reminds me a lot about the label “writer” and all the baggage that comes with that. What’s a writer? Is it someone who’s so successful at writing it forms the sole source of their sizeable income? Is it someone who gets routinely paid for the writing? Someone who got published once? Someone who’s written five novels that have never seen the light of day? Someone who writes short stories and publishes them on their blog? Someone who writes the occasional poem when the mood is right and then burns the original? Who is gatekeeping this term “writer”, when a writer is someone who writes and sees themselves as a writer?
Same in my case. Why do I find trouble owning the term “runner”? Partially of course is that I don’t see myself as that serious of a runner, and partially because its other people who expect a “runner” to be something that I’m not. I’ve never run a marathon, nor do I expect that I ever will. My last two races have been the 24-hour Easter Seals charity relay I was roped into in my first week at my first legal job, and the Grade 4/5 400 metre race back in elementary school. I hardly buy myself any running gear and my primary thought any time I go for a run is not “how far and how fast can I run” but “how far and how fast can I run without messing up my knee/shin/ankle/foot?”
So in that sense, in that specific conceptualization of what it means to be a runner, I’m not a runner. But I am, in fact, a runner, because I’ve had an on and off relationship (mostly on these last few years) with this form of exercise for more than 15 years. It’s because even though to go for a run I have to haul myself out of bed around 6 am before the kids are awake, I’m disappointed when something comes up and instead I sleep in for an extra hour. It’s because I enjoy the bar graph that the Nike Run Club spits out for me to track my running distance for the year. It’s because when my wife got me a Garmin watch for Father’s Day I couldn’t stop looking at it for a week and now obsess over every metric it tracks. It’s because without it, I would have a hard time figuring out a way to stay physically active. It’s because when I run I feel good both in my body and in my mind. For all these reasons and more, I am undeniably a runner.
Yet it’s not a relationship without its difficulties. Even though I feel good after the run, I hate every second of the first ten minutes. Even though I willingly set my alarm, it’s a struggle to actually haul myself out of bed to get my running clothes on. And even though it’s good for me, there’s no joy in icing my joints and muscles every other week. I’m not doing this for accolades or personal Everests, I’m just doing this because after all the grueling work it at least gives me a chance to feel good.
So yeah, obviously a lot going on there, but in writing this entry I’ve decided that I’d share more about this hobby on this blog. I know it’s a blog meant for writing, but at the same time, my header does state that it’s an “author’s journey”. And running for me forms part of my journey in surprising ways. I would not have the mental acuity to be the writer I am without having exercise in my life. And though there is much to hate about running, it is, by definition, the most accessible form of exercise – no equipment, no set gym times, just open the door and go. And even though there’s no exercise easier to start, that is not to say running itself is easy at all, and I want to use this platform where I can offer encouragement to those that like me, may find it life-changing to incorporate running into their life, even at this kind of amateur level.
So expect to see more occasional posts here about running and running related things. And who knows, hopefully I could inspire someone to be just like me and at the age of 20 to go for their first run since high school and after three minutes, standing wheezing and with a stitch in both sides thinking this was the worst idea they’ve ever had, only to not ever fully give up for the next fifteen years. Just don’t think you’ll catch me opining on things like, what the best running shoes are, because honestly outside of “get what’s comfy” I really have no clue.
Michael is a husband, father of two, lawyer, writer, and is currently working on his first novel, at a snail's pace. A very leisurely snail. All opinions are author's own.