Marathon Training by Kim Schultz
I’ve got a friend named Lana. She decided a couple years ago now to try to the Couch to 5K program. She had never run before, and she found that she was good at it. She loved running. She was an endurance runner, what do you know. Although she’d signed up for a 5K, she ran the 10K instead, and then she ran a half marathon, and then a marathon. Now she runs a 10K with the casualness I use for going out for gelato. Many of vacations are planned around what race she’s going to run next. I run if I am being chased. She’s planning to run a half marathon at 13,000 feet.
Our marathon’s coming up, the SDWI Blazing Laptops marathon, and I won’t be there (sigh). Years (and years and years) ago, when I was working as a technical writer at a place with many projects and deadlines, I wrote for ten hours or more a day without much of a break. Fifteen minutes for lunch, then back to work. Five days a week, with some time on weekends. I churned out manual after manual; more than once I’ve had coworkers come stare over my shoulder to say, “I couldn’t tell if you were typing or just pounding keys.” My typing sounds like a platoon of mice tap dancing.
This was my one-way ticket to tendinitis. One day I ran out of Advil and realized I couldn’t grasp things; I couldn’t turn a doorknob or my car keys without triggering intense pain. “The human body’s not designed for that kind of repetitive activity,” said my physical therapist. I had workstation evaluations, massage therapy, ultrasound therapy, biofeedback sessions, and good old fashioned physical therapy. I couldn’t type for six months, which is a very long time if you’re a writer and this is how you earn your bread.
[Public Service Announcement: if you’re a typist of any kind and your fingers go numb or tingle, please stop and stretch and get some help. I didn’t because I just didn’t have the time and I sustained permanent damage to my hands.] Since then, I am conscious of my wrists and hands. I’ve done two writing marathons, and both times I came home elated and sore and numb. As much I love the high I get off the writing, my hands aren’t built for this.
This makes me so sad, really. If you haven’t been to one of our marathons—really, why not? It’s a whole day of writing. There’s a different prompt or exercise every hour to keep you going; there’s a place for people who just want to write without being bothered by prompts. It’s at Lestat’s, which is a cool place to hang out and write.
But what I’ll miss most is the humming energy of all those writers working. There is a different vibe to my writing when I’m surrounded by other writers who are all hacking away at their own pieces instead of when I’m by my lonely self in the early, early morning or the late, late night, which is when I carve out my time to write. There’s something about the shared camaraderie of writers writing together that really does help keep you focused and on track. When I’ve been lucky enough to see my friend Lana finish her races, she has the same energy I’ve experienced at the end of our writing marathons: happy, dazed, crazed, accomplished. So if you can write, go write.
Kim Schultz used to write about cell phone test equipment, particle counters, and nuclear waste disposal facilities for money, but now writes aridly acidic prose for her own amusement when her children are asleep. She’s the secretary and volunteer coordinator for SDWI and is working on her novel, really.