Jogging Big Year: Why abandon such wonder?

Jogging an entire year always seemed risky, especially on January 1, but it’s now part of my life. An ingrained habit that invokes wonder week after week.

But I’ve made the decision to switch next year. To ditch the specific fortitude and skill built up over a calendar year, probably never to try it again.

Why? Wear and tear on feet is the most sensible reason; although the feet have held up well, how much longer can they? Secondly, I believe I can get the high of real cardio effort (call it huffing and puffing) with cycling, as long as hills are in the mix. Thirdly, it’s time to try something else, and surely that’s the most implacable logic. A Big Year isn’t a Big Year if it is two years.

Writing Big Year: Forward?

As a geek, I read way too much. I read way too much about writing. Often there seems no point to much of that reading about writing, really, but I do it for some reason that compels. Nearly all of it washes over me – blah blah blah, same old, same old – but when something strikes me, it hits hard.

In “Fierce on The Page: Become the Writer You Were Meant to Be and Succeed on Your Own Terms,” Sage Cohen asks: “Who can you count on for feedback that helps move your work ahead?”

My answer is more important than it first seems: I can count on the Inner City Writers Workshop, a group of disparate writers whose only commonalities are dreams of fame and fortune; at least a modicum of talent (all eight of us are about equal, possessing quite some skills and rough edges); a work ethic within the chaos of life; humor; quick minds. We meet fortnightly. We read and critique. We support, we suggest, we yearn for each other.

Writing those words unearths the real significance of ICWW: no one else in my life always “moves my work forward.” Let me ensure I dig in for the crew.

Writing Big Year: Slave to research

I’m not drafting, back in the 40s and 50s, I’m taking research notes, forward into the 60s and 70s and even later. I know drafting words is the key for me, right now, so why detour into research? Well, if I don’t keep research ahead of wordsmithing, I’ll get swamped sometime down the track. Instinctively, a couple of weeks on this guff is the right thing to do, right now. Am I right? Who knows.

A Hiking Big Year anytime soon?: Part 3

So the Tough Hikes Big Year is on the scrapheap. But I still plan to do something I call a Long Hikes Big Year. A calendar year that might involve four 800-km pilgrimage-style walks, each taking 5 to 7 weeks depending upon my daily commitment. The iconic one is, of course, the Camino de Santiago. Others might need to be constructed out of thin air.

If mountains no longer seem attractive, why do long trudges? Well, I believe I can ask my wife and others to join me for short stretches, so such walks need not be so lonely. Second, recent many-day hikes, such as the Coast to Coast, were both enjoyable and enriching. Finally, I reckon I can turn the notion of a pilgrimage into something that suits my hairshirt mentality better – maybe I can walk mornings and write novels in the afternoons. Wouldn’t that be interesting?

Overcoming a hoodoo jog

A rigid routine: 4 jogs each week on set days, each on a different route. All 4 routes are 10 kms, so the only practical differences are the amounts of ascent, in layman’s terms how bloody hilly they are! It turns out my toughest route, North Loop, climbs 80 metres; I feel every metre and I run it at about 6:15 mins/km (with a fastest pace of 6:05). The easiest route, West & Back, only has around 60 metres and I’m clocking it at about 6:05 (fastest being 5:58). You can see that less hills means easier, means faster.

Another route, East Loop, lies in between the extremes. The ascent is about the same as the easiest route, around 60 metres, but the climb comes in the form of one daunting, steeper hill. Accordingly, I do this route at around 6:10, in between the others. (My fastest is 5:59).

But my hoodoo route, North & Back, also involves 60 metres of ascent, but I’m travelling at 6:15 and I’ve never run it faster than 6:10. It occurred to me over the weekend to question why this is so. There is a tough pinch, up to Yarra Boulevard, but the key factor seems to be that very little is dead flat. This route undulates and I don’t like it.

So a few days ago, I jumped at the hoodoo route. I set off at a decent pace, then focused on surging up all the slight inclines, and over the tough pinches, I put extra grunt into my strides. I was wrung out by the end, but not, funnily enough, more than usual, and my pace came in at 6:01.

Hoodoo conquered! But nothing comes for free: my right ankle is slightly suspect, and my left arch, cured now for two months, twinges once more. Sigh . . .

Inhaler in your pocket

Meg Wolitzer in Why We Write: 20 Acclaimed Authors on How and Why They Do What They Do, edited by Meredith Marat:

While I’m writing, I ask myself the question that a reader inevitably asks a writer: why are you telling me this. There has to be an erotic itch, a sense of book as hot object, the idea that what’s contained in the book is the information you’ve always needed. . . . Imperative is the kind of thing we associate with urgent, external moments – say, with political causes. I also associate it with art. . . . The most difficult time for me as a writer is before I have a central guiding idea for a book. Once I have it I feel reassured. It’s like having an inhaler in your pocket, if you’re an asthmatic.