Since moving to Billings, Montana a few months ago I’ve been given the gift of a new daily routine (aka unemployment). After cranking on my Masters thesis/novel every morning, I’m left with idle time and five extra pounds around my middle as I wait for my savings to run out. You could call this an opportunity and I’ve decided to try a low-cost experiment. Jogging.
Growing up as a dancer of all sorts (see banner images), I scrunched my nose up at running. Running was for athletes: soccer players, basketball all-stars, wide-end receivers, not an ex-dancer who spends her days lounging on comfy pillows with her nose in a book, wiping away drool after unintentional naps.
I admit, and will admit to many times in the future, that I’m externally motivated. As I observe the writing habits of authors I respect (Neil Gaiman and Stephen King for example), both have said they run as part of a routine (in tweets or their memoir respectively). And naively I wonder, is there a correlation between literary success and running?
It could be the determination required or the imaginative potential from a fresh burst of endorphins. Or, it could simply be the fact that they have made running part of a routine, and that what matters is that there is a routine to begin with. Ann Patchett describes in the May issue of Yoga Journal that yoga has become a part of her daily routine and has helped her to stay centered when her writing life is hectic.
Feeling ambitious, I’ve been trying both–yoga before I sit down to write, and running in the afternoon when my brain is mush.
Here are my discoveries:
1) When it comes to yoga, I am weak sauce. I thank the deities that I have a home practice, and that I’ve yet to subject an unsuspecting yogis to the “crumbling-towers” style of yoga I seem to be practicing.
2) When it comes to running, no one told me there are tiny gnomes that put boulders in your thighs and gravel in your knees. This may be because I’ve been running with my boyfriend, who’ll I’ll fondly refer to as Adventure Junkie. Adventure Junkie doesn’t run for the exercise, or the sense of routine, he likes “the outdoors.” Naturally, a jaunt with him includes inclines that gain 400 feet of elevation. If nothing else, when I’m done slogging with him, I’m left with a sense of accomplishment that makes going back to my keyboard easy.
While both additions to my routine entails various discomforts, my hip flexors have been begging for a break from my desk chair. As a favor to my hip flexors, I’ll stick with it for awhile. But then, that would be internal motivation, wouldn’t it.