Photo by JOHN VATER
Lee Chae won
i'm a 10 km runner
I’m a 10km runner. While I have run for many years, I continuously have written novels and short stories. When I started to write my first novel, it was so hard to keep writing consistently, every day, for long hours. I mostly wrote short stories, which didn't need long periods of time to write. Actually writing 7~8 hours a day, focused on the computer screen, to make a story all alone was too much for normal physical strength. It was like torture for me to write a novel.
I had to get over it though. Then I felt I needed to arrange my everyday life regularly. I had to force to myself to get the strength. I made up my mind to work on my body, and then I kept running. I ran on the treadmill at the gym at the same time almost every day. Before then I didn't write regularly. Also I didn't run regularly.
One day I had an idea – marathon. “Let's run a marathon race” I told my family what I was thinking, and let's run together, and then they agreed. We registered for a marathon race and started to train hard for the first race of our lives. I realized only then how many marathon races have been taking place around me in my home town, every weekend.
My first marathon race was in a 10km course. I got a 1:17 record, which was a really nice experience. My children felt the same way. From then I have run in races once a month.
Long distance running requires patience to use the body consistently, and to gain basic physical strength as well. Most people may think a writer only has enough strength to type on a keyboard, but most writers would not think a writer only has strength for typing on a keyboard.
According to recent research, the number of neurons in the brain of a seahorse increases rapidly by exercise, such as cardio and aerobic. But the effect only stays for 28 hours. If people are older, they lose muscles, and get fat more readily. By the way, if we give intelligent stimulation to a newborn neuron, it delivers signals for communicating and connecting with other parts of the brain. The ability to learning and memorize becomes much higher. In other words, physical exercise and combination of intellectual work have a good influence on creative labor, such as writing.
I found running a good companion of my writing and life. But if people are to exercise steadily, it must help their lives. I thought jogging is the most basic form of cardio exercise, and the best way to stimulate my brain. I realized that giving careful attention how one’s body feels is very important for people who create things. The same goes for us.
I jogged on the treadmill at least 5 times a week, and ran a marathon race every month. Then I got used to it and became fond of running. In the meantime I wrote a novel named My Beautiful Marathon.
While I was running races, I started to plan my next work, and wrote a second novel for young adults and youth named Run, Mural. The book is about a girl getting over her family circumstances through drawing a mural project for her school. Actually my daughter drew murals in her school when she was in Northwest Junior High School in Coralville, Iowa. My family and I lived in Iowa long ago. I got an idea from that, and weaved it into a story.
During some races I vomited, or limped for many days after, or had my toenails come off after running. However I love running, because I feel motivated, and more youthful as a writer.
In 2013, I ran a marathon race in Boston. That is called BAA 5Km Marathon, which takes place the day before the Boston Marathon. Next morning, the day the bombs exploded, I went to the running course to see the winners of the race. I stood near the finish line and waited for the winners and saw them. After a while I left; 2 hours later, bombs exploded at exactly the place exactly I had been standing.
Running has led me to various experiences. It is the best thing in my life. People say marathon is like life. And I say writing a novel is just like marathon. There is no shortcut; the only thing I can do is to keep running. I'm also a 10km runner as a writer, so I'll keep writing