Lately, I’ve been training for the Spartan Race (this Saturday!) with running up hills instead of doing strength focused training. Doing the strength training took a certain discipline and focus, but I find that the running takes more. It’s non-stop. Rather than sets of exercises that don’t take very long by themselves, I have one long training block with two 100 foot-ish hills. And, particularly in my new shoes, running just kind of hurts. My calves get sore. My legs don’t want to continue.

But I’ve been able to continue. I’m not pushing myself to the point of injury, but I am pushing myself well into discomfort. My breathing is ragged and heavy. My legs feel like lead. The last thing I want to do is keep going. But. I. Keep. Going.

My mind is stronger than my body. My will to complete the work is stronger than my body’s desire to stop. I know there’s an end in sight, and that I will reach it in time. And until that end, I will keep on pushing.

I push myself like that in training because I know I will need that will and discipline when I backpack. Since backpacking is all day, rather than 30-ish minutes, I approach it differently. I take rests every hour or so, and I don’t push the pace any more than is needed to complete the day’s miles. There are just so many more miles to do that I will get to the same sort of feeling of wanting to quit that I can reach in 3 miles of hill runs.

Physically, running and hiking are a lot harder than sitting in a desk chair and making up stories. If I can discipline my body to the kind of physical exercise that I’ve been doing, then I should be able to discipline my mind to sit down and write stories, if that’s what I want to do. And I have had success with sitting down to write when I have a backpacking book to write. The stories I’ve lived are easier for me to write. 
I haven’t spent much time writing this spring. I’ve been very focused on physical activities. And that’s good for me. It’s not something that I’ve done before in my life. I’m learning new skills and building new strengths, as well as getting to know more people in my community. Expanding my experiences can only help my writing in the long term. Even if I take a longer break on fiction writing. 
When I was running yesterday, there were times when I could feel myself relax my calves. They were sore and hurting and I was working them, but they had relaxed to the task. It’s only in the last few months that I’ve felt that sensation while running, as if the motion and pace could feel good. I think what I need to do with fiction is to relax for a while. There’s no rush. The only one putting any expectation on my writing is me, and letting that go could be just the thing I’m waiting for. 
Or not. I’m not going to worry about it.

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