You know what they say about boats, right? That they're holes in the water that you throw money into. Now, I'm sure there are people out there that have boats and this phrase doesn't apply to them, but there's a reason why sayings like this exist. Sometimes, we throw money into things we love and want, but that doesn't necessarily mean we get a lot out of them.
My husband and I joked that this is actually my author career — a hole that I throw money into. I certainly love being an author, like many people love their boats, but that doesn't mean it doesn't suck away a considerable amount of my expenses every year. Despite the joking nature of our conversation, it did leave me feeling like the future was bleak for me. The boat would not stay afloat forever, after all.
After telling my friends this, my friend, Heidi, told me that, no. My author career is not like a boat. She said,
“It is like running marathons. Lonely. Expensive. Worthwhile if only for your personal sense of accomplishment… and whether others appreciate it or not, you keep going.”
Yes! This is actually more like it, and it brings me around to the topic for today which is endurance training.
Growing up, I watched a lot of endurance events on TV like the Tour de France and Olympic marathons. I've always been fascinated with endurance, going for the long haul, pushing yourself to go farther, endure conditions longer than those around you. To me, that's the height of athleticism and it's something I still admire.
Endurance events are not only a physical game but also a mental game. You have to convince yourself that, yes, walking 100 km is totally doable or riding your bike 50 miles in a day is sane or running a marathon is a piece of cake. Once you get over the mental hurdle, it's all about your pushing your body to keep going and giving it the fuel it needs to continue on.
Training for endurance events is all about accomplishing small milestones along the way, building efficiency and strength for the long haul. You start small. 5 mile bike rides turn into 10 mile bike rides which turn into a few hours in the saddle. You build, bit by bit, until you're ready for a bigger event. You don't go straight from the couch to run a marathon. You train.
My century t-shirt for accomplishing 100 rides on the bike. Another milestone accomplished!
On my Peloton bike, I'm currently training to build endurance and power. I went from 20 min rides to 30 min rides to 45 min rides to 60 and then 75 min rides. Each milestone was another challenge, another time I needed to talk myself into riding. “You can do this, Stephanie. Just get on the bike and move your legs.” My goal is to ride Pelofondo either later this year or early next year with 50 miles in a weekend. I won't get there without training.
The same can be true for authors. Training is comprised of many different elements starting with the basics of writing and abandoning many novels and shorter works, learning craft, getting critiques, taking classes on writing and storytelling, and then finally, actually finishing a novel…
But it's not over! Novels need revisions, and even then, sometimes they're not good enough for agents or publication. Even if you make it that far and you're ready to publish, there are still more tasks and more books to write, marketing to fail and succeed at, new genres to explore, new businesses to investigate. Your feet are hitting the pavement and your pace is at tempo, but there's still a long way to go to the finish line.
Together, we go far.
The finish line, though, is different for different people. In the publishing world, it can be just putting your book out there or winning awards or making a certain sum from your sales. The same is true of the athletic world. The finishing line can be just running for 10 minutes straight or entering a local 5k or running in the NYC marathon or riding in the Tour de France. The goal posts move depending on your success or setbacks, and there is always room to go further if you want to.
I've been on this journey for many years now, and I'm still running the marathon because I actually enjoy endurance events. I enjoy the tempo pace and being on the road with the finish line far out in front of me. I'm not a sprinter, in neither my athletic life nor my author life.
I'm in this is for the long haul.