Healthy Writer, Healthy novel.

I recently decided enough was enough and I needed to get healthy. There’s an app for it (Couch to 5K). There’s an app for everything, these days, but not all of them are as useful.

What has this got to do with writing?

Ever wondered how it is you’re going to sit down for the better part of a year, write a book, and not get backache and/or fat?

Yeah. That’s what it’s got to do with writing. I’m not the world’s biggest exercise fan. ‘Cross Country Run’ was about my most hated phrase at school (along with ‘what you lookin’ at?’) and all of my attempts at fitness in my adult life have culminated in me sitting on the sofa with a packet of ready salted and the tv remote.

Haruki Murakami wrote a book called ‘What I talk about when I talk about Running‘. He runs marathons, does Murakami San. He claims that it helps build up the stamina necessary for sustained novel writing, as well as keeping him fit. I think he’s right: there has to be a benefit of training the body  to run long distances that translates to training the mind to concentrate for long periods of time.

Since having a child, my concentration is truly shot, which I put down to having to be available at a moment’s notice. I am constantly interruptable and interrupted and sustaining one thought for longer than three minutes is almost impossible. Since I’m clearly unfit too, I realised there was no harm at all in taking up running.

Yes, the thing that I profess to hate.

Here’s the thing: I only hate it because I think I can’t do it. I have dodgy knees (get the right shoes), mahoosive betties (get the right bra), and a fear of running outside where ‘people’ can see me (join the leisure centre and run on a treadmill). So I did all three, and started doing my couch to 5k runs.

The local leisure centre is a revelation. You have the bonus of being able to watch everyone else in there and make up stories about them. You can disappear into your own head and mull over nothing or something. You can take your time and learn to run at your own pace. I also think that getting off the sofa in order to do one thing, means you’re more likely to get off the sofa to do another.

Of course, running may not be your thing. The other sport I tried recently that I was terrifically keen on was archery. Not so much about stamina and fitness as putting arrows through things, which is, let’s face it, hugely satisfying. So if you wouldn’t run, what would you do?


4 thoughts on “Healthy Writer, Healthy novel.

  1. About the dodgy knees, have you tried ‘barefoot’ shoes? I don’t run, but I do get achy knees (and other bits) with a lot of walking – almost all gone since I started wearing some Vivo Barefoot trainers. My sister, father, and grandmother have gone the opposite way and have fancy supportive insoles in their shoes, but they’re all still complaining about their knees, backs, feet…

    I totally agree that it’s good to practise getting off the sofa/away from the computer screen, for any reason. Apparently self-discipline burns glucose just like muscle activity, and therefore is exhaustible, but I’m sure you can build it up like a muscle.

    1. Thanks for the heads up. I’ve been googling and turned up some interesting things on barefoot shoes. Next time I need to buy shoes I’m going to seriously consider the barefoot route.

      PS – really liked your blog!

  2. I started running for new year and quickly made progress. I dropped a le creuset casserole lid on my foot on Saturday. am back to walking for my exercise fix. I think the feel good effects of exercise far outweigh any physical benefits. the more often I take exercise, the more positive and creative I feel.

    1. Bugger about the Le Creuset incident – that must have hurt like hell. I hope it’s healing quickly. And I have to say I agree about the mental effects of exercise. I’m actually starting to miss doing it if I miss a session, and I never thought I’d be saying that!

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