I have to concur with the writer, that “racking up mile after mile is difficult, mind-expanding, and hypnotic—just like putting words down on a page.” But, it’s also energizing and freeing to be out on the road, around town or through the woods, working out ideas and problems, step by step, mile by mile.
Freedom, consciousness, and wildness: Running offers writers escape with purpose. When confronted with “structural problems” in her writing as the result of a “long, snarled, frustrating and sometimes despairing morning of work,” Joyce Carol Oates would ease her writing blocks with afternoon runs. For Oates and many other writers, running is process and proves especially useful for the type of cloistered, intensive work they do. But in many ways running is a natural extension of writing. The steady accumulation of miles mirrors the accumulation of pages, and both forms of regimented exertion can yield a sense of completion and joy. Through running, writers deepen their ability to focus on a single, engrossing task and enter a new state of mind entirely—word after word, mile after mile.
At the beginning of a run, I have my eyes on the horizon and a destination in mind. That far-sighted view gives significance and purpose to the route I will take to get there, the sorts of obstacles I’ll encounter along the way, and the pace at which I travel. In writing projects, both great and small, I find the same process: The parallels seem to be endless.
I can’t wait to get out on the road again!