Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Runners Who Write; Writers Who Run

Morning Folks.

I am on Facebook as AlexBootCampKeegan (all one word) and I have just started a group called

Runners Who Write; Writers Who Run

The following is a note I've posted on FaceBook about it. If you write ad run (should be BOTH, that's the point) then why not join me?

I have only run three hours in the last 4-5-6 months but I was a serious veteran club runner AND I WILL BE RUNNING TODAY.

Imagine going on a writers retreat where you ran first thing in the morning and everyone was so ALIVE!

I have just finished a weekend of teaching creative writing in a very intense atmosphere, up around 0600, going to bed around 0100. That intensity was on the back of almost thirty days of non-stop, heavy-duty writing and too many late nights. I went INTO the course dog-tired.

Once upon a time, as an athlete, I would have been overjoyed at the surroundings of the chapel. All those fantastic runs, with great views. This time I went, only just recovered from an injury having done no exercise whatsoever for six weeks and abusing my body with too-long days, too much time at the computer and too much (I drink when I write a lot) wine.

But one of the ladies on the course was out first morning, out there running with the sea air in her face. Day Two I HAD to go out.

I was three stones and more (as much as fifty pounds) over my racing weight, unfit, slightly upset tummy, hungover, mentally running on empty AND WE WALKED-RAN FOR TWO HOURS.

We didn't exactly hammer things. I wouldn't be surprised to discover that our mile-running pace was nearer ten minutes than nine, but we walked up those hills, ran along the cliffs, saw an amazing blue lagoon, came back sweaty (and I was sore) but the day FLEW by and I was twice as good a teacher, full of energy again.

This is what I remember when I was running a lot (up to seventy miles a week at my peak).

The physical, mental, philosophical side-effects of running are fantastic. When I'm fit, especially through running (and carrying a lot less weight) I feel younger, sharper, cleverer and insights come so fast I can't catch them all. I used to say running "empties my head of fat".

So, I want to form a group of people who firstly consider themselves writers (whether professionals or serious non-professionals) people who wake up and 19 days out of 20 are immediately thinking, "When and where today will I get my writing space?"

Ability and publications is NOT the point, desire an seriousness, and how you define yourself is the mark of "writer". I was unpublished when my son Alex was born. On the birth certificate my wife, unprompted, put my profession down as writer. That must mean I was, even if the 350-400 publications I now have hadn't started.

And running?

Well, the definition of writer is above. My definition of runner is similar. Do you get up evry day WANTING to run? Is it your main way of being fit? You may or may not be super-slim or fast, but at some time in your past you ran seriously (say 4-5 or more days a week) and raced a bit (even if you finished way down the field.

You own running shoes, shorts, vests etc and you get somewhere and you want to run, want to run, want to run.

You might be like I am right this minute (but watch this space) grossly overweight and maybe a bit ashamed, with short-term and long-term injuries. Running might now make you breathless. You aren't supple, you may not be quite so young. There's no way you are going to enter the next County Cross-Country, and the idea of The National, try to stop laughing.

BUT, like with me last weekend, someone was going running and you HAD TO try, because that's what you are, even if you're a fat old fat, you define yourself as a runner, you want to be fit again, want to feel that sharpness in body, brain and soul.

You quite like the idea, a year down the line, of a half-marathon where every person in the field is a writer. Wouldn't that be glorious?



If you write and don't run, START.


James Burt said...

Great post. Since reading the Murakami book I've been thinking about running and writing a lot. I've just signed up for the Brighton Marathon so there's quite a lot of running ahead of me.

I've joined the facebook group and look forward to seeing what emerges.

Alex Keegan said...

Join us then, James.

Maybe I should invite Mr Murukami

I have his book next on my TBR pile