All Work and No Run: Writing as a Runner

How do you adapt to seasonal restrictions on your writing?

The average temperature when I wake up in the summer is 90 degrees Fahrenheit. At 5:30 in the morning.

The sun is hardly even up yet.

That’s too hot. It’s too hot to run,  at least. And don’t even ask about evening temperatures here in the concrete jungle I call home (Phoenix is awesome at keeping it 100 (or over)).

I try to take my dog out 3x a week on a run but she’s had to settle with short walks during the summer because she gets overheated easily and I’m not getting up at 4 in the morning.


The real travesty here? I write while I run! I use the music and the movement to relax and let my mind go to town, usually planning out action scenes to my kick-ass running tunes.

When I can’t take Zoe on a run, two things don’t happen:

1. I don’t have that outlining time so crucial to being able to sit down and hammer out a scene with ease

2. My dog doesn’t get her exercise,  which means she wants to play while I’m trying to write.

And no one can resist the cuteness.

She’s made of two breeds that require a lot of playtime–luckily they made one adorable dog.

My amazing parents are doing a lot of dog sitting while I prep for Pitch Wars but even though the dog is taken care of, what do I do about the running?

Your first thought was probably mine: give up and learn Kung Fu.

No? It was run on the treadmill? Well,  that was my second thought.

I have often disparaged the use of the treadmill because it doesn’t capture the same sense of motion or progress as running outside. But you work with what you’ve got, right? So I started running in the gym at my apartment complex where the TVs don’t work, there’s an occasional air freshener spreading perfume throughout the room, and you have to look out at the pool where the happy people go.

One day, I decided to bring my notebook with me.I was making a choice between breaking my workout routine–something I’ve promised myself I won’t sacrifice just because I have a deadline–and getting enough writing in for the day. Health vs. progress? Why not both?

Oh,  did I mention I’m asthmatic? Yeah, I ran for twenty minutes straight the other day and I could hardly breathe by the end of it. I have what’s known as:

Exercise-induced asthma


Really, this just means if I do too much cardio, I lose the ability to breathe and I have to stop doing cardio or I’ll pass out. I mean, I’ve never gotten to the passing out point because not being able to breathe well is excellent motivation for slowing down, but I assume that’s what would happen.

What’s cardio? Running. Running is a great cardio workout.  (Cardio is also Rule 1).

But don’t feel bad for me now, dear readers. I’ve turned this apparent weakness into a STRENGTH. When I run on the treadmill, I’ll typically run for about 8-10 minutes before I need to bring my heart rate down. To do this, I walk for a couple minutes. Over a couple runs, I developed a treadmill-specific writing routing:

Step 1: While I run for 8-10 minutes, I outline in my head by scene/sequel segments.

Step 2: When I have to walk, I write down what I just wrote in my head! I walk until my heart rate is low enough and then start the cycle over until I’ve gone the distance or length of time I wanted.

Easy peasy.

Something about having the notebook there makes all the difference. When I go without it, everything I hated about treadmill running comes back to me. But with the notebook, I’m excited to run again.

I’m training for a half marathon so on my long run days I’ll be in the gym for an hour or two (or more as I increase my time). I have planned out entire acts scene by scene with the corresponding transitions.

It is SO EASY to sit down and write those scenes out. I love this routine so much I’m tempted to go on a short run every time I want to write! And who knows, building up to longer distances may mean I can still do that even when Zoe and I are hitting the streets in the cool morning hours again.

It also means more Pokemon Go walks! Team Valor foreva! 

Who’s inspired to go treadmill writing now? Do you have any other writing hacks to get around the weather?

Author: V. Kane

I write YA fantasy, blog about it, and then take my dog out for therapy. My current manuscript is ANATHEMA, a story of two sisters caught up in a war between the gods. Find me on Twitter at @ValkyrieWriting or Instagram at books_and_dogs

4 thoughts

  1. Wow, I can’t even imagine such high temperatures… 90 degrees that early in the morning!? Luckily here in the UK we usually don’t go over 75 degrees at the height of Summer. Have a great day 🙂


    1. Ha, it’s kind of annoying but I’m still here so I guess I love it! The UK is probably a very different landscape from the desert I call home, but at least it’s a dry heat, right?
      I hope you have a great day, too! ^_^

      Liked by 1 person

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