Marathons vs Sprints
Motivational speakers like to say that “slow and steady wins the race“. Well…not really. But moderate and steady will help you finish the race.
Back in April of 2014, I started Couch to 5k, a program to help you work your way up to a running a 5k in approximately 30 minutes. It was an 8 week program that took me… 21 weeks. I ran a few 5k races and ended up seeing a foot doctor. So, that was the end of my running career.
One of the things I liked about the program was it worked you up to 5k, starting off walking 5 minutes, running 2 minutes. It didn’t expect you to run a mile right off the bat. The minimal fitness requirement was the ability to walk for 30 minutes. You could repeat each week as many times as you needed. (Or skip weeks if you were “sick”...)
The goal was something that, given enough time, most people can achieve.
I’ve known marathoners of the half-marathon, the full marathon, and the extreme marathons. I’ve known triathletes.
All of those people dedicated most of their non-work hours to training.
Couch-to-5k wasn’t hours and hours of training. It was (at recommended speed), three 35-minute sessions a week. Something that most people can fit into their schedule without dedicating their lives to it.
It gave you an achievable goal, in a reasonable time period, with regular check-ins so you could compare your progress and see how far you’d come.
When I first started my novel, I joined the marathon that is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). The goal was to write 50,000 words (200 pages) in the 30 days of November. But, they didn’t just say, “Write 50k and…GO!”
They said, “Hey, to finish on time, all you need is 1,667 words per day.” (6-7 pages).
It was an achievable goal, in a almost-reasonable time period, with daily check-ins so you could compare your progress and see how far you’d come. Plus, giving me a set end date meant I couldn’t slack off or use excuses to stretch out the process. Another thing? I wasn’t doing it alone.
It helped to know that I was a part of something bigger–
- Even if I never participated in the in-person write-ins
- (meeting at local coffee shops/libraries with local participants)
- Even if I never participated in online sprints.
- (given a fixed number of minutes, write as many words as possible)
- Even if I barely participated in the forums
- (where on and off topic tips are given, and encouragement is found)
- Even if I only updated my numbers and left the rest of the NaNites alone
When it comes to writing, some people are sprinters and some are marathoners.
I saw people updating word counts of 3k, 5k, 7k in a day.
I was happy to stay on target, pounding out my 1,667 words.
I fell behind a few times, but even when I pushed hard, I rarely broke 3,000 words maybe once or twice. I’d slowly make up my losses a paragraph at a time.
I finished writing my 50,000 words on November 30th at 7:45pm.
Then, I celebrated by having a veggie and cheese tray in front of a warm fireplace.
I took December off, then gave myself a 10k a month word count and wrote until I dropped my pencil at the end of story arch in August of 2014.
Come this November, I’ve got a lot more NaNoWriMo friends. And this time I might even try sprinting–for a cause.
The refugees fleeing war in Syria are in dire need of help and on Saturday November 12th, #Scrivathon16 will be taking place to raise money for the UK based Syria Relief. Feel free to donate now, pledge in the comments based on my word count, or share the news if you can’t help yourself. We welcome other writers to join the sprint and raise money themselves.