I ran my first 10k race yesterday as of this blog post and I felt I have become a runner officially. I have spent the past couple of years of running as a way to have another point of connection with my wife. My wife began running a few years ago and at first I dismissed it because I never ran much throughout my life. However, I saw how much she enjoyed it individually as well as being a part of a women’s running group. I wanted to see if I could enjoy running as much as she did.
Also, I had published my first novel, The Descendant of Destiny, and it had consumed most of my free time outside of the day job, being a husband and father of two. I could barely run a mile when I ran through my neighborhood here in San Antonio. Over the course of last two years, I could gradually run up to a 5k consistently and took part in my first race as runner with the San Antonio Rock-N-Roll Marathon 5k run in December 2015.
Even though, I had been running 5ks for most of 2015 and 2016 and getting confidence as runner. I had several running friends, while encouraging for where I was, asked when I was going to run a half-marathon or a marathon with them. My friends, well-intentioned, were wanting to come up to their level of running as soon as possible and thought the 5k is the stepchild of running. The goal from their perspective was to run a marathon (or at least half-marathon) to become a real runner instead of a weekend or hobby runner.
Also, I had published my second novel, Transformation Towards Destiny, in the fall of last year. It is the second of a four book series in my fictional world of Kammbia. I have gone the indie/self-publishing for these novels and have received positive feedback from readers about my colorful, spiritual contemporary fantasy series. I have sold a few books (not as many as I like) along the way. However, in the indie/self-publishing community, there is an emphasis on publishing fast and often like 3 or 4 books a year to build an audience either through KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) or wide distribution (Kobo, iTunes, Nook, and so on). While, I would like to have published books on that kind of timetable, I knew just like in running I’m not there.
Recently, I was starting to feel out of place in both writing/publishing and running. I began wondering is there only one way to do both of these activities that have become such an integral part of my life. However, I saw patterns in both activities since the start of this year that has helped rethink how I should approach both of them and a huge dose of much-needed perspective. Here are lessons I have learned so far both writing and running:
- I have been running since the end of the last year with an Air Force Veteran on Saturday mornings. It is a recent friendship that developed through our wives. This veteran wanted to run with me and every time we run together he has finished first each time by at least several minutes. However, I have been able to increase my distance from a 5k to 10k since running together. I noticed at first I had my competitive juices going when we start our run and then around two miles he pulls away but instead of being discouraged that I cannot run at his pace; he has become a guide for me to keep going and shoot for as I run. Also, I have learned that every runner will have their own pace and trying to run someone’s pace is a recipe for disaster. This lesson has served me well in writing fiction. I have two writers that have become online mentors: Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Joanna Penn. Kristine Kathryn Rusch has had a long career since the early 1980s and written across many genres (science-fiction, fantasy, mystery, and romance). So there is no way I could have the same writing career as her as well try to keep up with her pace as a beginning novelist. Trying to do so would end disastrous. Seeing her as a guide and something to shoot for as inspiration is the better approach. I would feel the same about Joanna Penn, former corporate IT consultant turned indie author-entrepreneur whose positive first approach in fiction and non-fiction writing and speaking and podcasting (The Creative Penn is an excellent podcast for writers) has become a guide for me. However, if I tried to replicate or attempt to do things at her pace would be disastrous too. As a writer and runner, I have learned that doing both activities at my pace is more important than trying to do those activities as someone else’s pace.
- In between writing my first and second novel, I was going through some personal issues from my job, finances, and even my marriage. It seemed like life was giving one body shot after another and I will admit that a part of me wanting to stop writing to get my life back on track. Also, I had gotten over the euphoria of running and it became stale. Despite of everything going on in my life, I kept writing and running. I would love to write that it was sure willpower or for those of us who are religious it was my faith alone that got me through. Nope. I believe it was a combination of both things and an innate desire to do it. I have realized through that for almost a year both activities were not fads and essential to my life. I must do both activities for the rest of my days on the planet. And both activities had developed a symbiotic relationship with one another. As a writer and runner, I have learned that you will hit a roadblock (whether its creatively or in your everyday life) right after the initial euphoric phase has faded. You cannot escape or dodge it. You must meet head on and go through the pain to see if you are meant to do a particular activity. If it is truly meant to be in your life, then you will do it no matter if all hell is breaking loose.
- After this phase, I have recognized patterns that have developed. After running at 10k distance for the past several weeks before yesterday’s race I felt this is the distance I want to run as a runner. Even though, I will run a half-marathon in December with my wife and others. I feel a connection to the 10k distance knowing it will be my preferred distance. At the same token, I know that I will write and publish a novel once a year at this stage of my career. And writing and creating a fantasy novel that includes spirituality, introspection, music, dance, food, and the connections of friendship and romance. Those are the kinds of novels I read and review and I have written these types of stories since childhood. I know I might not become a successful indie/self-published author with that kind of publishing schedule or not writing to market or the hot genre. I might never become a marathon runner like some of my friends or other competitive runners. But, I’m okay with those factors and if I give it my all on the level that I’m at….then I have done what my talent has allowed me to do. My favorite parable in the Bible is the Parable of The Sower from Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus tells the parable of three people getting talents from the master and asked to multiply their talents. Two of the three people multiplied their talents and pleased their master. While, the third person with only one talent did not multiply his talent and hid it in the ground so it would not be lost. But, that action displeased his master, and the talent was taken away and got him kicked out of master’s presence. I know that theologians will have a different read on the actual meaning of the parable, but I have always viewed it as you must use what you have been given as a gift or talent whether it’s from God or whatever you believe in. And you cannot feel like your gift or talent is less than someone who has more gifts or talents than you have. As a writer and runner, I have learned that you will develop into your own natural rhythm or pace in these activities. If you embrace that rhythm or pace, then you can travel farther than you will have ever expected.
As I mentioned at the start of the blog post that after running this 10k….I feel like I have become a runner because I have my found pace and I can stay with it as long as I continue running. Likewise, I have realized after publishing Transformation Toward Destiny, what I want to write about and where I want to go with my writing career. Hopefully, I can stay on that road despite the noise and distractions away from it. Writing and Running have become integral parts of my life and their relationship have intertwined unexpectedly and has changed me forever.