Last night, I went for a walk with a dear friend, the first we have been able to take for far too long. Most summers, we are well into our walking routine by the middle of July, but this year has seen one obstacle after another. We took our usual route from her house, up the dirt road past the last of the houses, past the white cliffs swarming with darting swallows above the river, all the way to the big tree where the panoramic view of the valley is the best, and back again. We walked our usual pace, which increases as our muscles and joints get warmed up, then slows again slightly on the big hill. Our conversation drops off on this hill at the beginnings of our walking seasons, and we know we have been exercising faithfully when we can make the climb without falling silent.
Last night, however, I knew I was stronger than usual. I've been running faithfully, every other day, two and a half miles each time with a little less walking involved each time. This is a big step for me, a devout non-runner since adolescence. I knew I could have continued to talk as we climbed the hill, but I also knew that my friend could not have done the same, so I respectfully waited until we reached the top and the terrain leveled off.
My feeling of improved fitness didn't surprise me. What did surprise me was that, several times over the course of our walk, I felt the urge to run instead. Seriously an urge, like the famed 'urge to push' in childbirth. I was out for a walk with a good friend, a pleasurable walk, a walk filled with great conversation and spectacular scenery, and all my body wanted to do was break away and run, as if that would be even better or something.
What has happened to me? Am I actually becoming a runner? I didn't see it coming. With my historical hate/hate relationship with running, I couldn't have ever imagined having to fight a physical urge to run.
Similarly, the last two days, whenever I have sat down even briefly at the computer to check email or whatever, I have had the urge to write. Writing is definitely more strenuous than surfing the web, but I have loved the act of it for so long that it often seems akin to breathing for me--albeit sometimes labored breathing when I am writing something difficult or painful. It is how I process thought. To sit at the computer the last few days and not write anything has left my fingers itching to get busy.
Could it be the same thing? Could I ever get to the point where running is second nature, as writing has become?
Perhaps it would be a good idea to get back to writing on one of my books, writing for more than just a short post at a time. As I faithfully roll out of bed, pull on shorts and a tank top, lace up my shiny new shoes and cram a visor down low over my eyes in hopes of becoming a long distance runner, perhaps I could also faithfully put on the tea kettle, steep a cup of green, adjust the desk chair, sit up straight and tall, and strive to become a long distance writer.
Maybe they're not so different from one another.