I recently read Haruki Murakami's memoir What I Talk About When I Talk About Running and found it pretty interesting, though I don't know if I'd recommend it to anyone who isn't a writer and a runner or a huge Murakami fan. He doesn't have a lot of insight into either running or writing; mostly he just says, to paraphrase: "I write because I'm good at it and I like doing it. And I run because I'm good at it too. I just started one day, and here I am, twenty years later, and it's been great." Then there's a lot of geeky detail about his writing schedule, his running schedule, his marathons, etc.
The book interested me because I've put a lot of thought into the connections between writing and running--they've always felt connected to me. I started running when I was ten, around the time I started writing. And I go through similar long periods of slackdom with both, often at the same time -- I can probably blame these slack periods for the fact that, considering how long I've been at them, I'm still -- embarassingly -- pretty much a beginner at both. They both require a not so easy-to-maintain combination of mental toughness and faith that the activity is really worthwhile, even though, minute by minute, very little gets accomplished. They're both solitary and don't depend on other people. And they both feel much better when they're over.
Plus, a lot of writers I know also run or, in the case of the wonky-kneed (JRL), walk. Joyce Carol Oates reportedly runs 6 miles every morning -- as prolific in her running as her writing. Just this morning I was reading an article about hydration during running, and there was a quote from a woman I happen to know, and who happens to be a novelist (and who sometimes looks at this blog -- are you there, KL?). I had no idea she runs, but I'm not surprised.
There are obvious, practical reasons writers might run: it's cheap, it counteracts all that sitting, it's outdoors. But I feel like there are deeper, more mystical reasons, maybe something to do its linearity, the way your eye moves past words on a page just like it moves past trees and weeds and telephone poles. Maybe it has to do with sustained attention. Or rhythm.
What do you think -- will doing a lot of one lead to a person doing a lot of the other? I, for one, hope so.