I built a box around myself at around age fourteen that said, “Not an Athlete.” I didn’t look like the athletes I saw around me. I didn’t have thigh gap. I couldn’t run a mile without panting. I was the girl who got the gym class exemption in high school, opting out of phys ed and taking tap dance at my local studio instead. I was the oldest tapper in the class by at least six years.
Now, long out of high school, I am training for my first 10k. Something about my mid-twenties taught me to endure and break through road blocks, both in running and writing. As I revise my novel and work toward 6.2 miles, I’m seeing similarities.
Mostly, the main thing I’m learning is persistence. Writing the first draft (and even the first few rounds of edits) were fun most days. The thrill of discovery, the runner’s high after coming over the top of the hill for the first time. Revising, though, really revising feels like waking on those mornings that are already too hot, when lacing up your shoes already makes you sweat.
But still, you run. You do your run because otherwise, you can’t run further. You do your revisions because otherwise, your project stops. Those characters roll over in bed and say they’ll just skip it today.
Today I ran on the country roads around my house, past cows and cornfields. The tree canopy winks light down on me. The gravel kicks up backwards as I run and I think, I’m not sleeping right now. I’m getting better. And then I went home, showered, and got back to the page where my characters and all of their flaws were waiting to be sharpened.