Running Makes Me a Better Writer; I Bet It Would Work For You, Too.

From Flickr user Robin McConnell
From Flickr user Robin McConnell

I used to feel outright hostile toward fitness/body progress shared on social media.*

So I asked myself why.

All I could come up with was dumb fear that:

a) I will be judged when I backslide,

b) I will be judged because I am still chubby, even though I exercise,

c)I will become one of those one-gong bangers and ONLY post about fitness.

Here is why I have decided to change.

a) Fuck people who judge.

b) see letter a.

c) Why would I ever worry about that? I am far too interesting with too many pursuits and obsessions to limit myself to posting about fitness.

In case you are also loathe to mention progress on social media, I encourage you to adopt a self-restricting policy: I allow myself one weekly post (on Facebook only) about fitness, typically after my first running workout of the week, and typically discussing my amazement that I continue to make progress and it ain’t even that ouchy.

This one had twenty-five likes + a half dozen comments
This one had twenty-five likes + a half dozen comments


All the exercise bloggers and google searches you can imagine will tell you that exercise helps you sleep better.

That is truth.

I get good rest, and I require fewer hours of it, then I wake up with beautiful, fully-formed thoughts happening in my head, which often, eventually, make it to the page.

Running between 1.5 and 2 hours each week with increasing intensity has, in the first five weeks alone, given me back more energy and a more whole sense of wellness than two years of more Zumba than that (even though I still love Zumba and go when I am not feeling too shin-splinty/muscle achy).

More energy means I do things–even dumb small things like bending over and picking up a sock, or putting shoes in the closet or doing the dishes instead of sitting round thinking about how I’m too bushed to do those things. My body feels better, so I am more efficient which means, you guessed it, more time for writing.

And also more food. I love food.

Running is trusting your body.

Writing is trusting your mind.

This is a symbiotic relationship, and weekly practice helps me extend that self-trust to other areas which is a thing I struggle with.

Getting sweaty reduces stress.

Reducing stress reduces anxiety.

Lower anxiety means fewer excuses about why I am not writing, fewer minutes wasted fighting with my inner critic.

And sharing about it on Facebook means I get support and kudos from friends. I hear their stories about running which helps keep me going. I remember that my friend who runs the NY Marathon told me she didn’t lose a bit of weight for six months after she started running, that another friend started with Couch to 5K three years ago and now runs triathlons. And then, people share with me things like this, to which I shall submit before summer’s end. And this, which gave me laughs and warmed me from my bellybutton to my nose, twice.

Also, the most helpful thing I’ve ever found on reddit is the running subreddit. LOADS of good info and experiences.

What about you? Do you run? Do you post about fitness on Facebook? What do you think of all this?

*I’m still not sure about the weight loss progress bathroom mirror selfies, ugh.

I’m So Fly Like a G6: On Gyms, Exercise, and the YMCA. is where this public domain image came from.

I looked that up, G6.  Urban Dictionary was enlightening on the topic.

According to the most cogent of the 7-10 definitions, a G6 is a big airplane that rich people get, a particularly hazardous cocktail of drugs and alcohol, or a Pontiac model (duh).

There is, according to Urban Dictionary, some contention about which G6 the Far East Movement song is referring to.  Were I to hazard a guess, it would be the one about drugs.  Why else would they need a euphemism for drunk that’s as wacky as slizzard? Maybe they’re flexing their double entendre & they mean all three G6es…

That I am even aware of this song is a testament to the unusual mental space I inhabit at the YMCA.

When I am not at the YMCA, I can’t even listen to that song.  It makes my ears bleed.  I just tried, and I made it a painful 1 minute and 37 seconds into a 3 minute and 38 second song to which I gleefully shake my booty (by which I mean do standing, pelvis-thrusting crunches) at Zumba.

I am not a jock.  I’m the opposite of jock.  I’m the plastic-rimmed-arty-glasses type.  The type who exercises by riding a vintage bicycle around in a skirt, or by dancing barefoot at a folk festival, or by doing Yoga, or kicking ass at roller derby.

But I love Zumba.  And I love the YMCA.

I love the Y despite all the ways in which it reminds me of high school: the nasty, sweat-soaked, rubber mat smell; the cliques of skinny, popular people talking about stuff that makes no sense to me; the Dudes running around in gym shorts, bare-armed or bare-chested; the general abhorrence of critical thinking.

The Y represents something else to me, too.  It is the sweaty home of my economically diverse community.  I’m pretty sure there’s a meth head (or former meth head) in my Zumba class.  At the Y you’ll find the gamut from low-IQ adults who get bussed over from the group home to doctors, lawyers, and sales executives.

It is–in may ways–exactly like high school.  Only now that I’m a grownup, I am better equipped emotionally and socially to navigate it.  I no longer envy the popular girls.  I now know that I am at least as good as they are, and what differs between us is a life philosophy, rather than some definitive value of our respective lives.

And I love that the YMCA is helping me kind of work out some of my unresolved anger about my high school and middle school years.  So many times I get this eerily familiar feeling and I look around me and am–for a moment–transported back to Old Mr. Shenk’s maroon rubber mat in the Big Spring Middle School‘s gym in 1993.

And newly, the YMCA has enacted a very public high school circa 1994-1999 censorship policy about “sexually suggestive” songs during Zumba classes.

To me, the sexual suggestiveness, booty-shaking, pelvis-thrusting, faux-Latin dance is the WHOLE FUN.  But the buzz around the group exercise room is that the Zumba instructors have been put on “sexually suggestive” Zumba song red alert.  Pooh!

And–maybe it’s like how your taste buds change every seven years–something happened around my 30th birthday (took me a few months to realize), I like to exercise.

I love it when my body is red and splotchy from the inside out, when my pudgy neck is striped with sweat, when my once-dry ponytail is wet like I’ve showered.

I discovered this love first at Roller Derby.  I think I would still prefer to be a derby girl, but the trouble is that I have no health insurance, and I’m old & responsible enough now that I can’t inhabit my carefree, carpe diem way and just say “who cares if I get hurt?,” because that would suck.

Child needs her momma with two working knees.

Is it possible I’ll get hurt at Zumba?  Heck yes, especially since I’m so extra-chubby (but less so than when I first began Zumba, I’m pleased to report).  Is it less likely than at Derby?  Oh yes.

If I ever have health insurance again, will I re-join Derby?  You know it.  I will quit Zumba for skates any day, and not look back either.

But for now, gimmie my YMCA, my in-my-30s-social confidence, my inexorable appetite for observing people in their myriad habitats, and my sweaty cardio.   Boo Yah.

And for those of you who have not yet been exposed to this apocalyptic horror: don’t click unless you’re sure.  You won’t be able to un-see or un-hear.