Me, My Heart, and I

by Melinda Gallo

Running and writing my way to confidence

Monday, March 28, 2016

Lately I havenít been able to focus on my writing projects. I even started a few blog posts that I gave up on. I wasnít exactly sure why I was feeling so distracted and disconnected to my writing, but this morning I had an idea. Running affects my writing a lot. Itís almost as if they are intertwined. I didnít realize it until last year when I took a six-month break from running. I hadnít planned on taking a break, but after skipping one running day, then a week, and then a month, it was easier to not go out than it was to go for a run. I didnít think the break would affect me that much, but it did. I not only felt disconnected from my body, but also from my writing. Me, My Heart, and I :: Running and writing my way to confidence

Because I have been running off and on without much consistency, I decided to run up to Piazzale Michelangiolo today. I usually go up there a few times a week, but I havenít been in a couple of weeks even. Itís not a far distance, but there is an incline that I doubted I could run up without stopping. Itís just a slight one, but practically half of the run is going up it. Physically, there wasnít a reason why I couldnít run up it, but my thoughts convinced me that I couldnít do it.

Even though it was raining this morning, I was still adamant about going up to the piazzale. Fortunately, by the time I got outside, the rain had stopped. I began my run by crossing the Ponte alle Grazie and then turning left toward San NiccolÚ. As soon as the traffic was clear, I crossed the lungarno to turn down a residential street on the right, which took me to the winding road that leads to the piazzale, viale Michelangiolo.

Iím always cautious about the uneven stones in the sidewalk. I have to look at the trail in front of me a lot more than I normally would. I cannot let myself get distracted by the cars, buses, motorini, bicycles, and other runners going by. I have to stay focused on my running. I already hurt my ankle going up this same sidewalk by not paying attention to where my feet were landing.

Once I ran past the campeggio (campground), I knew I was almost at the top of the hill. I kept repeating to myself that I could make it up to the top without stopping. My body knew I could do it, but my head had a few doubts. I tried to focus more on my body than my head and even told myself that I could slow down, but I could not stop running.

When I reached the Piazzale Michelangiolo, I was elated. I had wanted to push myself past my beliefs and I did. I jogged to the low wall of the piazzale to treat myself to the spectacular view of my beloved city. Even though there were low grey clouds overhead, Florence was as stunning as ever.

After breakfast, I pulled out my notebook and did a 15-minute writing practice. I just started back up a couple of days ago after taking a break, and I immediately felt the difference. The time I dedicate to free writing is incredibly important to me. Itís especially helpful right now because Iím doing quite a bit of rewriting at the moment. Free writing allows me that same fluidity that running does. My hand moves along the page and my head keeps out of it, just like my feet keep moving regardless of my thoughts.

Writing and running have a lot of similarities for me. I run alone and I write alone. I have to motivate myself to do both: thereís no one cheering me on while Iím doing either and no one congratulating when I accomplish what I set up for myself. I also have to set my own goals, motivate myself, and praise myself for achieving them. Both are definitely practices in self-motivation.

With each writing practice and each run, I gain more confidence. Every kilometer I run is one more than I ran yesterday. Every page that I write is one more page than I wrote yesterday. The more I practice running and writing, the stronger I feel. Every once in awhile, I do push myself to run farther and write for longer periods of time because the challenge is what makes it all interesting.

This morningís run was more significant to me than just getting myself up the hill or putting myself on a better running schedule. It helped me to gain more confidence in myself for both my running and my writing. I know that sometimes I have to push myself past my own limitations. The only way for me to persevere is to stay focused on what Iím doing and not let my mind take over.

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