On Monday, I received good news. I (applied and was) accepted to May’s Wilder Running Retreat in Bend, Oregon, to take place over Memorial Day weekend! It’s a four-day intersection of writing meets running. In other words, a delicious combination of two of my favorite things, set against the backdrop of the Cascade Mountains. Pinch me!
If you’ve never heard of Lauren Fleshman, Wilder’s founder, lean in: Lauren is my running idol. Not only is she super smart and fast as heck, the Stanford alum also won five NCAA titles while she ran for the Cardinals. Since then, she’s been blogging and writing for magazines, selling the popular Believe journal, plus helping to launch great fitness companies like Oiselle running apparel and Picky Bars (yum!). Not to mention she’s a wife and mother, doing all the other stuff that goes along with being your typical superwoman. But what I admire most about Lauren is her genuineness and pragmatism; she’s suffered several injuries in her athletic career, but ultimately she’s used those setbacks to persist. Instead of dwelling, she’s changed direction. Not only does this down-to-earth activist point out the misdeeds of professional running organizations, offering constructive ways they can change course, she also cares about the individual athletes themselves. All of them. Amateur, or even (and maybe especially) recreational runners like me included!
Wilder’s inception was based on Lauren’s desire to encourage writers and runners alike to get out of their comfort zone. Through it, she shares the influences of her own incredible mentors. Some of them will be in Bend to facilitate, leading our group through exercises – both mental and physical – that will shed new light on these seemingly distinct pursuits.
It makes sense that the writing process and practice of running share plenty of similarities. Both take work and discipline, and there are rewards for those who don’t give up. These rewards aren’t guaranteed of course, but they can be incredibly life-changing. Some days, writing or running will be easier; on others, it’s tempting to just throw in the towel.
But if you don’t? Carry on, and something amazingly transformative can and will happen. Line by line, a small idea blossoms into a flawless, full-length manuscript. Step by step, a long run – or even a race PR – suddenly feels effortless.
Along the way, however, we all need inspiration to keep us motivated. I can’t wait for mine this May!
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