Wednesday, March 28, 2012

As I Write

"As I write I think about things. As I write I arrange my thoughts. And rewriting and revising takes my thinking down even deeper paths."

This quote was taken from a small book I just finished reading called What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, a memoir by the Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami.

I feel exactly the same way. While I do not consider myself a writer, and have no aspirations of ever becoming a professional writer, I am a thinker who uses the medium of writing to explore my thoughts and to better understand myself and the world I live in. I write primarily because it is an aid to thinking. And by articulating what I think I know and assessing its merits it is an aid to understanding.

The inability to write clearly about something, reveals a deficiency of knowledge about it. To really get an accurate idea of what you know, what you think you know about any topic at all, it may be helpful to write down everything about it off the top of your head without consulting notes.

This is why I so enjoy writing in diary format with only minimal editing, because it gives you a more honest view of where you are in your life, in terms of self-knowledge and intellectual growth. Which is not to say that there are never any inaccuracies or mistakes, but when you write in this manner and see the written record of your thoughts of what you attest to believe and to experience, you can more easily see what needs to be changed, if anything at all.

It's been a long time since I've felt comfortable publishing on this blog whatever is written in the moment. That is, rather than planning and researching and rewriting and revising, I'd come to this blog and just start writing off the top of my head, without having any preconceived ideas about what I would write about, or censoring what I write about, but I would just write free flowing stream of consciousness diary entries of the moment about whatever came to mind. Whatever written down would just flow onward like a river, not sure where it's headed or what its purpose is, but just traveling as a way of life; each word, sentence, paragraph, and page is like a river, a snapshot of my thoughts passing through my mind at this one particular moment in time.

"What I Talk About When I Talk About Running" is the only book I've ever read by Murakami. It's very short and easy to read. I actually found it to be very refreshing after a couple of months of plowing through a few really long books. Why I thought "Seven Pillars of Wisdom" would be lighter reading than Dostoyevsky I have no idea, but its not and I may have to postpone finishing it another time. In any case, I needed a break, something light and inspirational, and this little book did the trick.

One thing that I have discovered, is that drinking copious amounts of beer on a daily basis is not conducive to running. Running hung-over feels like you are going to die if you push yourself any harder than the bare minimum. But the more that I walk, which is anywhere between one mile to five miles a day everyday, the more I am convinced of the necessity of becoming a runner, and not just a runner who runs daily but a long distance runner. Easier said than done, but I like to talk about it, so bare with me.

I've also come to the conclusion that increasing my walking distance will do absolutely nothing on its own to improve my running distance. That's what I had previously been thinking, that if I get into the regular habit of walking five miles a day, I should suddenly be able to run further than I had before. As if walking five miles is the same as running five miles. NOT! But the truth of the matter is that you only get better at running by running. Sure there are other cardiovascular exercises you can do to increase your overall fitness, but walking does not increase your heart rate to anywhere near the kind of levels needed to improve your cardiovascular endurance for running.

So even if I managed to walk ten miles a day everyday, without actually training for running, I would not be able to run ten miles. Just as I can easily walk four miles without losing my breath, I cannot at this time run the same four miles without stopping. Walking is easy, but it takes forever to get there. Sometimes its good to go slow, to take a leisurely stroll, but sometimes its also good to pick up your speed, and running long distances without training DOES NOT come effortlessly. Which is why I think it's smart to walk AND run, that there are times for going slow and times for going fast, but in order to have the strength to run further distances when the need does arise, you have to train for it, by running and gradually building up your endurance, otherwise you won't be able to run for very far.