NON FICTION: Of Running—And Writing

Trail Runner

Why am I doing this again?

It was Monday, I’ve ran four kilometres, and finally approached home stretch. I know, five-kilometres is paltry by runners’ standards, but it’s more than enough roadwork to set my lungs on fire.

Why? Just why? All for 300 calories? Who’s going to care anyway? I’m not even a decent runner. Why don’t I just walk the rest of the distance? God I need to breathe so bad. Why am I doing this again?

RunKeeper called out my average pace, way below my usual. I’d have expected to see some improvements despite my scant training regime, but all I had for my troubles was a steady decline in numbers as the months passed.

I’d have frowned if I had any strength left. Instead, my face was merely hanging off my skull, the way a pit bull’s would. I was discouraged, and my legs were starting to give out. I felt like giving up. That train of thought felt way too familiar. It must’ve been something I’ve been thr—

Then it hit me. It reminded me of writing.

Take for instance, the blank screen before starting a new piece. The dread that accompanies that sight is the same feeling I get every time I put on my running shoes. Whenever I fire up the word processor I always ask myself: Where do I even begin?

‘I think I suck at writing’? Nope, not what I’m looking for. ‘Why am I doing this again’? Nope, but I guess I’ll edit that later. Who am I kidding everything sucks.

Then there’s the challenge of finishing my shit, because I’d be lying if I told you I never thought of going home ten steps into every run. My Drafts folder is a testament of this, where sentences like ‘write something about running and writing’ go to die.

There are times when I compare myself to other runners, wondering why I can’t keep up with that frail old man, or why that gazelle of a lady is still running thirty minutes after I’ve stopped. It’s like that time I put down a book, not because it was bad, but because I’ve come to the realisation that I’d never be half as good in my lifetime.

Then there are the periods where I just forgo writing completely. Sometimes it’s the literary overload I get from work. Other times, it’s a string of short-story rejections, or a lull in inspiration.

But weirdly, unlike everything else in life, I always seem to return to writing, accepting all the misery that comes along with it.

Perhaps it’s not a hiatus, but a break that helps me see things from a new perspective. Maybe having great authors to look up to serves as inspiration instead of fuel for dejection. For all I know, I might even complete all my half-written stories, just like how I’m doing with this piece right now.

And perhaps the proverbial blank page is probably not the monster we all think it is. It could be a reminder of a story waiting to be told, a canvas of unending possibilities, a platform for creating something we can share with the world.

I ran seven kilometres that Monday, thinking about how I was going to write this story. Only after I was done fleshing out my ideas did I realised how far I’ve went. It’s weird how this story’s ending and setting my personal best couldn’t have happened without each other.

So why do I do this?

Perhaps I’ve found my answer.

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