Camp report no. 3 – Sprinting
I’m a lousy runner. Partly because I just don’t like the activity, and partly because I lack the high-level endurance. I hated it when we had to run at school, all those years ago, mindlessly round and round the gym. Even worse was when the gym teacher send us outside to run and all the passers-by and shoppers and people walking their dogs and old people sitting on benches could see us running past, red-faced, sweat-soaked and out of breath. A very humiliating experience.
On the other hand, sometimes when I’m outside – walking the dog, walking myself – I get the sudden urge to run. It comes over me in a shower of joy of life and of being alive and being where I am in the particular moment. It bursts out of me in a wild energy boost and at that moment I will run – I’ll run as hard and fast as I can. It doesn’t last much more than a minute, but that minute makes me feel that I could fly around the world if only I wanted to hard enough!
Yesterday I discovered something similar in my Camp NaNo writing. The days before, I sat down in the morning with the thought: ‘I have to catch up today. I have to write x thousand words today.’ Needless to say, I always fell short. Pressure, remember? What I did yesterday was simple, and came about as the result of me having a bad headache and being tired and grumpy. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to write the almost 5k I needed to ‘catch up’, so I didn’t set out to do it. I made a cup of tea, took a pill for my headache and sat down at the computer and timed myself for fifteen minutes. Fifiteen minutes, I argued, would be perfectly fine, after that I was allowed to get up from the computer again.
Fifteen minutes passed and I had written approximately 300 words. I got up and did some kitchen chores. A while later, I came back to the computer to look at my e-mails and decided my head would allow me a further fifteen minutes. That pattern repeated itself throughout the day and in the evening, I found to my surprise that I had written almost 5k that day. What? It seemed very absurd to me that I couldn’t do it on days when I was perfectly fine and healthy and wanted to write lots, and on a day when I felt my head would explode any minute, I could suddenly do it without meaning to?
And this morning I remembered the running and realized that of course it worked like that! Noone will ever get me to run five kilometers. However, walking five kilometers is perfectly fine and if in between the walking I suddenly get the urge to sprint forwards for a minute or so, that’s just fun and exuberance. The same, apparently, goes for writing. Looking at ‘having to’ catch up five thousand words… puh, that’s rather daunting. But just taking a few sprints, because you know you can, and because you feel good doing it – that’s a whole different thing! If in the end, if you find out that the sprints add up to quite a respectable number, that’s just an added bonus, surely?
I’ll be continuing this sprinting philosophy today. I hope I haven’t ruined it by over-analyzing. We’ll see. In the meantime, I’m off to make a cup of tea (peppermint, if you’re curious) and to listen to your experiences: what’s your approach – long-distance endurance running or walking with short bursts of sprinting?