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?