Friday, July 06, 2018

Elizabeth Carey

Pros Share 3 Ways Writing Can Make You a Better Runner

Pros Share 3 Ways Writing Can Make You a Better Runner

How putting pen to paper can help you become a better runner.

By Elizabeth Carey
May 15, 2018

High atop the Flat Top Mountain, four miles of run-hiking and nearly 3,000 feet of climbing into a big day of training at the Melody Fairchild Running Camp, campers pulled jackets and sandwiches out of their bags. As a leader at the camp, I handed out pens and postcards to each camper. We endured hair-whipping wind and sat on a rocky perch under Colorado’s blue sky to write.

The task: Write a letter to yourself. Earlier, we coached the runners through a goal-setting session, and this writing assignment was built on that foundation. What would you say to your runner self down the road, before your end-of-season competition? The girls hunkered down, inking their intentions.

Writing is a potent tool for runners and coaches of all abilities, no matter the training or racing cycle. For Melody Fairchild, multiple-time U.S. Masters National Champion, NCAA champion, and the first U.S. high school girl to break 10 minutes for 2 miles, writing has added a deeper dimension to her running.

1. Find Focus and Motivation
Lauren Fleshman—a retired pro runner with five NCAA titles and two U.S. championships to her name who cofounded Picky Bars and coaches elite athletes—attributes the best years of her professional racing career to when she started her blog Ask Lauren Fleshman. “Writing about my experiences for a larger audience with a commitment to truth-telling helped me see my running as a larger, more holistic pursuit than simply chasing an Olympic dream that may or may not ever come true,” she says.

2. Set Goals
A 2015 study from Dominican University of California found that professionals who wrote down their goals and shared updates on those goals with a friend had higher rates of success than those who didn’t. For runners who want to set seasonal benchmarks, this is a great excuse to reflect on what it is you hope to achieve with running and beyond.

3. Log Your Training
Keeping a training log serves multiple purposes. First, as Fleshman and McGettigan-Dumas write, “It is a powerful tool for momentum-building and accountability.” For Fairchild, logging training is “like an extended ‘cooldown,’ the very last part where I process the ideas, insights, or questions which came up during the run.”

As a coach and writer herself, Fleshman knows that writing can be a very personal practice. “It may light a fire that goes out but changes the landscape; it may light a fire that keeps burning. It's a personal choice, and no choice is final,” she says. “That's the thing: Writing and running are always there, and as you grow and change, they will be there for you when and how you want them.”