Every day is a struggle to find the perfect pace. My form is often sloppy, and each performance leaves me critical of my own ability.
I once confessed my hatred of this sport to a colleague of mine.
“You hate it?” she asked in bewilderment. Perhaps “hate” was too strong of a word. But some days, I certainly detest it. I moan and complain, and whisper four-letter words under my breath.
On those days, my stride is sluggish and my mind aches for sleep. I want to quit. Give up. Take off the shoes and climb into bed.
I anticipated her next question. The real question. The follow-up query everyone asks to find the missing piece of this puzzlement.
“Then why are you a journalist?”
For me, running and writing have much in common. It’s a constant love-hate relationship.
I love the feeling of accomplishment that comes from crossing the finish line and seeing the printed page. I hate the pain that sinks into the calf muscles on the last mile, or the approaching deadline that looms over a blank document on the computer screen.
In fact, both activities share the same emotional arc.
The starting line and the blank page: a moment of excitement and anticipation. You can see the difficult road ahead. There’s much work to be done and much time to be sacrificed before the shoes come off.
The logging of miles and the creation of prose: The journey is sometimes fun, sometimes difficult and all-around exhausting. Hitting a dead end requires the retracing of steps, just as a first draft screams for a rewrite.
The finish line and the publication: Exhilaration. All that hard work has paid off. The name is in bold and the time is permanent. Success.
I’m not the best runner, and I’m certainly not the best writer. I’ve chosen both activities because each are challenging. Every well-written article I produce comes from years of practice and coaching. I can run 12 miles at any given moment because my body is trained to handle the task.
At 23, I have a lot to learn. I read the work of senior reporters and study their craftsmanship, always wondering whether their creation came easy or whether their first draft was formed with Mozart-like perfection.
At races, I study the strides of the more experienced runners. Their smooth flow is a Mona Lisa portrait to my finger-painted gallop.
I run because it’s a challenge. I write because it’s a challenge. What’s the point of living if every day isn’t a struggle for perfection?
- Kyle Daly: 920-993-1000, ext. 430, or firstname.lastname@example.org; on Twitter @kyledaly