Sunday Salon: Writers Who Run

I was on Twitter the other day and I ran across this tweet from writer Neil Gaiman:

I ran 4 miles. Somewhere around the 2nd mile the gods of story smiled on me & told me what happens in a story I’d stalled on last yr. #karma

It got me thinking about writers who run.  I think there must be a lot of them out there, if the number of running references in books is anything to go by.  I’ve got this book by Haruki Murakami on my wish list–

Goodreads Summary: In 1982, having sold his jazz bar to devote himself to writing, Murakami began running to keep fit. A year later, he’d completed a solo course from Athens to Marathon, and now, after dozens of such races, not to mention triathlons and a dozen critically acclaimed books, he reflects upon the influence the sport has had on his life and—even more important—on his writing.

Equal parts training log, travelogue, and reminiscence, this revealing memoir covers his four-month preparation for the 2005 New York City Marathon and takes us to places ranging from Tokyo’s Jingu Gaien gardens, where he once shared the course with an Olympian, to the Charles River in Boston among young women who outpace him. Through this marvelous lens of sport emerges a panorama of memories and insights: the eureka moment when he decided to become a writer, his greatest triumphs and disappointments, his passion for vintage LPs, and the experience, after fifty, of seeing his race times improve and then fall back.

By turns funny and sobering, playful and philosophical, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is rich and revelatory, both for fans of this masterful yet guardedly private writer and for the exploding population of athletes who find similar satisfaction in running.

I think there’s such an obvious metaphor between running and writing that the two just naturally go together.  Not to mention the clarity of mind that can come from engaging your body in repetitive motion–I’ve had the same experience when hiking.

I started running semi-regularly a couple of years ago, after a lifetime of trying and giving up.  I finally figured out that my main problem was my breathing.  I wasn’t getting enough air through my nose, so I started breathing through my mouth, and all of a sudden I could pace myself enough to maintain a 20-30 minute run.  I’m still not a great runner; I really only have time to do it on the weekends, but I enjoy it in a way I would never have imagined.  The other breakthrough I had was in realizing that when it gets hard and your body starts to protest, it’s only a temporary state, and if you push through and keep going, all of a sudden you can hit your stride and feel great.

I’m sure there are other well-known writers out there for whom running is beneficial to their creative process.  Anyone have other examples to share?


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