My seven-year-old is obsessed with practicing her running writing. She shows us her loopy letters, so proud.
‘Wow,’ says my husband, Gregor. ‘I am so impressed. There’s no way I can run and write at the same time.’
It’s a favourite Dad Joke in our house.
Gregor’s a runner. And I am kind of a runner, in as much as I have been jogging most weeks since I was about twelve. I always loved cross country, and as I grew older, I realised I needed running for my mental health. I never push myself that hard. Very occasionally, I set myself a target, and my speed and distances improve.
But targets aren’t my big motivation. It’s more about getting out, frequently, and just enjoying it. I pride myself on the fact that I’ve never had an injury. And other than being pregnant, I’ve run most weeks of my adult life.
It’s a constant.
The other day, I was taking it particularly easy. I didn’t even do my usual 5km. I stopped at 3km, even though I was feeling good, and could have run further. I thought, ‘You know what? I’m happy to leave it here.’ And turned around. Ate some wild raspberries on the way. That was good.
I realised then that I run much like I write. I’m not one of those suffering creatives, bunkered into a hole to write for hours on end, or else. And nor am I a runner who pushes myself to pain, so I can reach my target.
Occasionally, with both running and writing, I do have to do a bit of pushing. To get myself out of bed. To get motivated. To keep doing it. To make the work better, or the run a bit more worthwhile.
But my day-to-day writing and running is about keeping it in my life. A steady stream of constant love and affection, rather than an all-or-nothing approach.
It works for me, anyway.
Are you a runner or a writer? Or both, maybe?