What Running a Half Marathon Taught Me About Writing (& Life)

What Running a Half Marathon Taught Me About Writing

Some time ago I ran a half marathon in Cambridge, UK — a beautiful, historic city with some amazing old college buildings that date back centuries.

It was great fun, but there’s quite a story behind it…

I like to think I’m fairly fit, and had trained for six months on my fancy new running machine beforehand — and even ran the whole 13.1 mile distance during a training run.

My time was pretty slow but it didn’t worry me, and I convinced myself I was bound to do it faster on the big day.

The big day came around very fast, and after buying some new trainers and running kit to look the part — I found myself lining up on the start line with my brother-in-law, sister, and a few friends.

“Let’s stick together until at least halfway if we can,” said my brother-in-law. “OK!” I replied enthusiastically.

On Your Marks, Get Set…

Bang! The starter’s gun sounded and we were off!

That was the last I saw of my brother-in-law, my sister, and all my friends for that matter.

And as they disappeared into the distance, I settled into the familiar pace of my training runs.

“Oh crap!” I admitted to myself, “I’m not as fast as I thought I was!”

By the 10K mark, my feet were burning, and by 15K it felt as though my knees might give way.

As I ran along a cobbled street past one of the old Cambridge University college buildings, the pain shot up my legs like needles — but I carried on trudging forward.

“How long d’you reckon we’ve got left, mate?” I panted to another struggling guy next to me.

He looked me in the eye and said convincingly, “Not long mate, just a couple of miles — you can do it!”

As he too ran off into the distance and I was overtaken by a sprightly man in his seventies, I began to think this may not have been such a great idea after all.

Especially with painful arthritis.

running shoes

Why Was I Even Doing This?

I was diagnosed in my thirties, and despite being otherwise fit and healthy, my arthritis is a constant unwanted companion in my life — and flares up badly when you least expect it.

Anyway, it was doing its best to flare up on this particular day, and it felt like someone had stuck nails in the soles of my feet — and in my knees — and set fire to each joint for good measure 🙂

Yet as I jogged from the shadow of the old college building back into the hazy sunshine, I never once considered giving up.

Because I remembered who I was doing this for — my baby daughter Maryann.

My wife Anna and I have three lovely children, two boys Ewan and Callum, and our little girl.

Both boys came into the world with no problems at all — but with Maryann it was different.

There were serious complications at her birth that meant she stopped breathing for nearly 10 minutes.

It was the most vividly shocking day of my life.

Yet the amazing work of the hospital medical team brought her back to us, and for that, we are extremely lucky and eternally grateful.

She’s since made a full recovery, for which we feel blessed.

So that’s why I was running, to raise money for the intensive care unit where Maryann was cared for in the days after her birth.

And that’s why the whole way around the half marathon, despite the pain, it never occurred to me to give up.

It meant so much to cross that finishing line that I kept going right to end, and finished with a flourish amongst the tail-enders — my arms held high like Rocky running up those steps in the film.

I couldn’t walk for a week but that’s another matter 🙂

So what’s all this got to do with writing online?

Online Writing = Persistence

Well, it seems to me that persistence, hard work, and carrying on when you can’t even see the finishing line, are all great traits to carry over into your life as a writer.

These characteristics are especially analogous to the process of keeping up with a writing habit — such as blogging, writing a newsletter, or writing here on Medium.

Persistence is not a flashy character trait but it’s definitely your friend.

Sometimes just keeping an eye on the big picture and putting one foot in front of the other is all you need to ultimately succeed.

In the context of your online writing, it’s important to appreciate that you aren’t going to see results overnight, so you must keep learning to get better — and that means you must keep writing.

This is a long-term game.

You’ll have to come up with ideas, research and outline each article, write each draft, then edit, source images, and publish — over and over again.

And if all that sounds like hard work — it is.

Name one thing in life worth achieving that isn’t?

However, if you stick at it and ‘run the race’ with your online writing efforts, the rewards for you and your business can be great — and will certainly help you overtake those who don’t even try.

The sense of achievement I felt crossing the finishing line in that half marathon was fantastic, because despite everything I didn’t give up, and successfully reached my goal at the end.

You can do the same thing for your online writing — you just need to keep your eye on the overall prize and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Are you ready to commit? Let’s do it…

On your marks, get set, go!

Loz James
Loz James

I've been a writer, content strategist and creator since 1999. I now help other creators master their mindset, motivation and method to start a writing lifestyle business they love.

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