My friend Celena sent me What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami for my birthday. I was training for my first 10K and the book came at the perfect time. The memoir of Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami who has run every day for the past 23 years (at the time of the writing of the book) is an inspiring, humbling read. If you’re read Murakami, you know how talented he is as a writer. His memoir discusses how he connects writing and running and how they both require discipline and pushing yourself to your limits and beyond.
Now, I’m training for my very first half-marathon. I’m a bit scared. 13.1 miles is a long time to run, at least for me, right now. My training schedule has me running 4 days a week with my longest run on the weekends. My friend Rita asked me, “Are there days you don’t want to run?” And I replied, “Hell yes. Almost every day.”
At the start of every run, there’s a little voice that asks, “Why are you doing this?” Sometimes when the alarm goes off and I know I have a 5-mile run planned, I groan, “Why am I doing this?” But I get up and I do it. Even if I’m slower than the day before, I put one foot in front of the other and run. The reason I love running is that run by run, you get a little stronger. You go a little farther than the day before. It takes time but you get there. I’m not the fastest runner out there but eventually I finish and that’s what matters to me.
Murakami makes a great point that running is like writing. There are days that I hate my computer and don’t want to write and instead do the dishes. But once I started putting myself on a writing schedule, I make myself show up to the page even if I’m kicking and screaming.
People say to me, “I never could run,” or “I want to write a novel, but I don’t know how to get motivated.” This is what I want you to know. I don’t wake up and run a half-marathon in one day. I spend months training. I spend months rewriting. In fact, I spent a year rewriting my young adult novel with my agent.
For those of you who want to write a novel or run a 10K, do it. Sign up for a race, download a training schedule, and put those shoes on. Sit down and write your novel, page by page. It breaks my heart when people say, “My dream is to write but I don’t know where to start,” because you can do it. You can do anything you want. You can write a novel by writing one page a day. You can run a 5K but simply going outside and running your very first mile and going from there.
Challenge yourself. Take it step by step and you’ll get there. That turtle always wins the race.