Thursday, April 14, 2011

Training Tips

One of the things I do to let off a bit of stress and keep myself healthy is run. I have often amused myself with analogies between running and writing. Both take dedication, both require you to push through 'barriers of pain' to reach the end goal.

After years of slogging away at around the same pace 'do or die' I have recently been changing my approach. I have started to incorporate some smaller, quicker runs as well as sprints. I have been amazed at how this has shortened overall times. The other thing, which has been something of a breakthrough, is incorporating nutrition around what I do.

For years I have been a big believer in a low carb diet, and I pretty much went off for extensive runs without eating much of anything - before or after. My theory was my body would 'burn fat'. Well, it probably did, but I always found it a struggle energy-wise, and experienced massive physical drops afterwards. Typically, I just kept doing it, soldiering on.

Then, after talking with some friends who do marathons and other runs, I tried incorporating some key nutrition around the runs. Taking a sports drink beforehand to provide some calories as well as magnesium for muscle function. Then immediately afterwards have a good meal or supplement with both protein and carbohydrate. Then eating again after two hours. I can not believe the difference!

My muscle recovery and energy recovery is so much faster, and my overall performance has taken a leap. My body just burns this! Metabolism kicking into high gear.

Basically, in the old training scheme I was breaking down muscle - but not giving my body anything to build back with. And I was not supplying the muscles with the sugars they needed for Glycogen recovery.

So - how does this relate to writing? Well - I think as writers we need to think about what we put into our writing 'bodies' and when we do it. I think we need to be inspired by story, we need to be exposed to language - good language! It's probably just as important as carbo-loading! Getting exposed to the right genre forms to excite your interest, to create a flow of ideas. Trying different things to use your writing 'muscles' in different ways. All can increase performance, but also help to stop the 'massive drop' you might get after a particularly intense writing period.

Have a favourite book or movie waiting as key nutrition when you get back from a critique group roasting. Allow yourself to excite your imagination - that is our stock and trade as SFF writers.

How do you keep your writing 'body' in good nick?


Chris McMahon said...

Hi, everyone. You are probably all asleep right now (if you are in the USA). I'm off to the coast for Easter. See you when I get back.

All the best,

MataPam said...

Hi Chris, enjoy your vacation.

Low carb is for us fat people to lose weight. Once you're into "extensive runs" territory, it's not what you need any more.

My mental diet tends more toward non-fiction. Magazines, science blogs, an occasional book. Unfortunately I keep sneaking in desert. I find conspiracy sites vastly entertaining, and tamed down a bit, they can be useful for the occasional eccentric character, and even major plot points. I combined Neanderthals, time travel and the Illuminati for a short story. Now Space Aliens and a President of dubious documentation . . .

Anonymous said...

I read Garth Nix's "Old Kingdom" YA trilogy, Sandy Fussell's "Samurai Kids" series, Scott Westerfeld's "Leviathan" YA trilogy (not that he's finished it yet), and - if things are truly desperate - I watch the LOTR trilogy (again).


I also find editing easier than first drafts - less mojo required, because it's tinkering rather than creation.

Louise Curtis

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

LOL, Chris, the marathon writer!

Chris L said...

There are some significant differences between writing and running.

There aren't any toilets in marathons.