I don’t run to be a superhero, I run to stay sane.
I’ve had house guests and sickness passing through my front door for the last two weeks, and I’m training for a half marathon before my daughter’s first birthday. I outlined this article while running (and edited it at 5am).
Fortunately, I’ve found that taking the time to run (or whatever form of exercise one enjoys) doesn’t take time away from my writing. It actually benefits it. Breaking a sweat can make you more disciplined, focused, and productive. Skills every writer aims to sharpen.
DISCIPLNE: At this stage in life, running means I have to:
- get up early to pump so my boobs don’t feel like five pound weights while running
- actually run
- get showered and ready by the time my kids are both awake.
It also means that I have to go outside in 45 degree weather before the sun comes up.
None of this makes running the easy choice. Sometimes it feels like I could just skip some of the training runs and it wouldn’t make a difference, but consistent discipline makes the little efforts add up. It turns a sting of training runs in to the prep you need to complete 13.1 miles, just like it turns five hundred count words bursts that you sneak in every morning into your first novel.
FOCUS: When I head out the door for a run, I know it will be powerful thinking time. I won’t be distracted by email, social media, laundry, or a child asking for a snack.
It is the longest stretch of free-thinking time I cam gift myself in a day, which leads to my brain wandering in plenty of fun directions that I would never make it to when my default distractions are an option. The perfect cover design, thoughtful sentence structure, new marketing tactics, the outline of an article I need to finish – it has all come to me while out on a run.
As the daily mom stress flows out of me, clear and creative ideas spring up in to me.
PRODUCTIVITY: Heavy breathing and getting my heart pumping are like a power switch for my brain.
Yes, working out is one more thing to add to my to-do list. But I’ve learned to use the last few minutes of my run “thinking space” to clearly set my priorities for the day. What are the three things I must get done today to reach my goals? When I arrive home I have a clear focus in my head and a forward momentum going in my body which helps me get through my to-do’s much quicker, making better use of the time I do have.
I’m pretty sure it all goes back to sixth grade science class: an object in motion stays in motion.
My baby just woke up, so this wrap-up will be brief:
Don’t get caught feeling like you have to choose either a workout or more writing time. Trust me, a skilled writer’s magic doesn’t just happen in front of their computer.
J.K. Coy became a mother to two daughters in less than two years, obviously she doesn’t sit still well. She originally hails from Michigan, but after moving to Southern California over seven years ago, she now considers California her second home. Her intent is to entertain the parent and child at the same time. Sometimes it’s the little joys, and inside jokes, that get everyone through another bedtime routine.