Last year (2017) I ran 400 km. For me, that was a huge accomplishment.
There are things in life that I pick up quickly. I pick up new musical instruments with ease. I once acquired an accordion and was writing ditties on it within a couple of days. Another time I was at a birthday party and wandered off to find a room with a flute. Within a few minutes I had figured out how to make some sounds and could even do the opening trill from the Mission Impossible theme.
Some things come so quickly for me that I can get frustrated when something demands more time to figure out and learn. But the reality is that there are plenty of things that take time to figure out.
Some things come so quickly for me that I can get frustrated when something demands more time to figure out and learn.
In elementary school, I was a sprinter. I ran the 100m sprint. I was on the 4x100m relay team. If I was needed, I would run the 200m sprint, but that one seemed a bit long. I wanted to run really fast, as fast as I possibly could, but for the shortest distance necessary. Maybe I didn’t want each run to take too much time. By the second year of my undergrad (2010), I had given a lot of thought to the habit of running. Leaders I admired were runners. They spoke to the benefits of going for a morning or evening run. It would help them clear their head, focus their thoughts, pray through difficult situations, connect with God, stay in good shape and good general health.
They convinced me. I wanted to become a runner. Or, in my mind, I wanted the benefits of being a runner. But I had never run more than 200m before.
My mom had begun going for walk/runs and had been doing it for some time. She talked about her route and her method of mixing running and walking. I decided that the time for thinking about running was over and the time to go for an actual run was upon me. I picked a morning, got up at the same time I normally did, put on some shorts I had from highschool, and left the house on a run. I picked a route, not knowing how long it would be or how long it would take, and went for it. I ignored my mom’s technique and ran the whole thing.
15 minutes later (and maybe 1.5km) I arrived home. Exhausted. I collapsed in the front foyer of our house. My mind frantically tried to stop the room from spinning, my lungs tested how fast they could empty and fill back up again, my stomach tried to get itself together, and no one bothered to tell my heart that the we were no longer running, because it was still pounding away faster than my feet had gone at any point in the short run.
My mom was surprised I was back so quickly. I thought it took forever. It would be another 6 years before I ran again.
In the fall of 2015, I moved into a basement apartment the furthest east you could get in Toronto (technically Scarborough, but saying ‘Toronto’ sounds cooler). The house is walking distance from Lake Ontario. After two years of graduate studies I had started as a full-time Worship Pastor. I wanted to start well and develop good habits. And I lived so close to the lake. Often, I would get up in the morning and take a book to the lake. It was about 1.75km to walk to the lake, and I could sit and read for 30 minutes before walking the 1.75km back home for breakfast.
Though my 2010 running experiment was a catastrophic failure–okay, maybe not catastrophic but clearly I did not view it as a success–others had continued doing this whole ‘running’ thing. Apparently, it was still beneficial. I decided I would try again. But this time, I needed a different way of going about it.
I wanted still to be able to read in the morning (and not wake up at an unsanctified hour) so I continued getting up and taking a book to the lake. Then, over a period of a few months I started to run for short segments on my way to the lake, and maybe a segment or two on the way back home.
I felt ridiculous. And I believe it was justified. I was wearing jeans and a light jacket, running down the street with a book clenched under my arm. But I had finally started to run. And it felt amazing. Ridiculous, and amazing.
I felt ridiculous. And I believe it was justified. I was wearing jeans and a light jacket, running down the street with a book clenched under my arm.
When friends or family came to visit, we liked to take a walk to the lake. As we walked, I would interrupt the conversation to point out where I would switch from walking to running on my ‘morning runs’ and then a couple hundred metres later I would interrupt again to tell them this was where I would switch back to walking. My company may have found this annoying, but I was proud of the progress I was making (however meagre that progress may have been).
After a few months of this, I finally ran the entire 3.5km to the lake and back. It took me a year to get from walking to running the entire thing. But I didn’t stop there. A few months later I went for my first 5km morning run on April 1st, 2017 (Okay, I admit that I walked for a bit of it, but still. It was huge).
By the end of 2017, all my morning runs were 5km long (and I was running the entire 5km) and I was doing this 2-4 mornings a week. I closed out the year having run 400km.
Okay, enough with the talk about running. The point is, it took a long time from when I first wanted to be a runner–tried and failed–and to where I became a runner.
It took a long time from when I first wanted to be a runner–tried and failed–and to where I became a runner.
I want to be a writer. Around the same time of my disastrous 2010 run, I had created a blog because I wanted to run and I wanted to write. I wrote my first post, setting up what I intended to accomplish through the blog. I shared it to my social media connections. And never wrote anything for that blog ever again.
But I want to write. And I have realized that writing may look a lot more like running than playing a musical instrument. It might not happen so quickly and with such ease. It might look like whatever the writing equivalent is of running down the street in jeans with a book clenched under my arm. It might start off justifiably ridiculous. But in time, maybe I’ll begin to see some progress and move from wanting to be a writer to being a writer.
At least it is easier to write wearing jeans with a book under my arm than it was to run like that.