3 Tips for Starting a New Adventure: Writing, Teaching, and Running

Possibility

is one of the elements.

It keeps things going.

Footsteps” by Fanny Howe

Starting over or starting something new can be scary, whether it’s writing, teaching, or running. Recently, I’ve embarked on a new career opportunity as a copywriter/content writer for Ponya Bands and also developing First Year Composition classes online for the first time. While I’m not new to writing or teaching online, it’s intimidating and overwhelming at times. New mediums/genres, new discussions, new course videos, just a whole lot of new.

Running-wise, I’ve started MAF heart rate training for the second time. I used this training method last summer and fall, running with a low heart rate the majority of the time, and saw great benefits. After a couple of months of stress running, I knew I needed to back off, and the summer heat and humidity kicking in seemed like the perfect time. It’s discouraging to see my pace go down and walk so much, but I know I’ll see the benefits if I hang in there.

While these things seem disparate, I’ve noticed several commonalities. What can I say? I see synchronicity everywhere! Here are 3 tips for starting a writing career, transitioning to teaching online, and running.  

Do Your Research

Before embarking on a new adventure, make sure to do your research instead of blindly charging in. It can save you time, money, and, in the case, of running, even injury. Of course, we have information readily available on the internet if we just look, but the large amount of information can be overwhelming. Wading through them seems like a job on its own, so I’ve given some starting places below. 

  • For freelance writing, sites like The Write Life give you a large variety of information and guides in one place while professional association resources like the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors website can help you network and find training courses. Research individual companies as you search for freelance writing jobs to avoid scam writing mills and unscrupulous clients. If it looks too good to be true, it likely is!   
  • Many of us have had to transition to online teaching during this pandemic.. EDUCAUSE’s Online Teaching Strategy page is a great place to start for teachers looking to transition to online teaching. Look for resources on your national associations for your discipline as well, like the National Council of Teachers of English for me. 

Reach Out

Embarking on something new is especially daunting alone, but luckily, you don’t have to. Whether you’re writing, teaching, or running, seek out local or online groups and/or established experts for advice. 

  • Go online, find a writer’s group whether on social media or local to you. Writer’s Relief is a good place to start if you’re new to an area. Don’t forget to look at flyers and posters in your local coffee shops and bookstores. It’s old school, but many small writers’ groups, and run clubs, still advertise this way. 
  • For online teaching, reach out to your school’s Instructional Design department; it’s their specialty after all! At IU Southeast, we have a wonderful ILTE department and staff ready to help with any aspect of translating your course for online delivery.
  • If you’re just starting out running, look for local groups online or flyers for run clubs in local running shoe stores. If you’re already racing, look for run groups represented at race expos, working water stops, etc. Talk to them and ask questions as not every running group will be right for you, whether it’s a schedule or pace issue. 

Give Yourself Grace

This point, I feel, is the most important no matter what you’re starting or restarting. It will likely take awhile to see results, so be patient and kind to yourself. As writers, teacher, runners, and just plain humans, we’re our own worst critics. Give yourself grace. Stick to your plan and after a few drafts or weeks, evaluate what’s working and what’s not. And if you need a boost, see David Roche’s tweet below:


Starting something new can make you feel like a beginner all over again. Don’t let it beat you down. Take it one step, figuratively or literally, at a time. Do your research, connect with others, and give yourself time and grace. Tell me about your new adventures in the comments below. We can cheer each other on. We all got this!

Why I Love Running with Friends: 3 Benefits and Best Practices

Long distance runner what you standing there for?
Get up, get off, get out of the door.
--"Fire on the Mountain," Robert Hunter
Celebrating reaching the top of Iroquois Park.

Over the past few months, I’ve gotten used to running alone, and I admit I like being able to change my plan or workout part way through without anyone else grumbling or sneaking out the door whenever I can with no plan at all. There’s a freedom to having no one to coordinate with, just lace up, head out the door, and go. 

I had gotten used to running with partners, from just one other person or a small group to huge meetups. Running solo was reserved for busy days when I had to fit it in when I can. Then COVID-19 happened, I began running by myself every mile, and it became my new normal. 

As restrictions have eased, I started meeting with small groups again in the past week, and I needed it. Between life stress, the increased heat and humidity, and general lack of motivation lately, running with friends has been the difference.

We ran roads and trails. We laughed and vented. We talked and were silent. We just were together, and it was just what I needed. It was so very good for my soul. And after not seeing my running friends in person since March, it was admittedly hard for me not to tackle hug each of them!

Trio group running picture.
The back-of-the-packers at our first group run since March!

Running is certainly a solo sport when you get down to it, just like writing, and I love my solo miles, but running with friends certainly has its positives, just like writing groups do. There’s such a benefit to community alone, but we can also get that online. Seeing people in person is certainly different. In this post, I’ll go over three benefits to running with friends and some best practices on running with others during COVID-19.

Running partners
Me and K.P., one of my favorite running partners whether training or racing, at Turkey Run after a summer long run.

3 Reasons to Run with Friends

  1. Motivation—Let’s face it, getting up before dawn is tough for many of us. When you’re not meeting someone, it can hard not to hit the snooze button over and over again. I’ve meant to get up before dawn for sunrise trail runs nearly every weekend, and I’ve only actually done it a couple of times. If I’m meeting someone like I used to do for almost every long run, it’s much easier to pop out of bed not wanting to be late and inconvenience someone else, just like it’s easier to produce a piece when you know your writing group wants to see it at the next meeting. 

    Even with running in the afternoon, it’s easy to get drawn into answering emails and leaving the house much later than intended if you’re not meeting someone. Meeting someone or two can help get your butt out the door. 
  2. Distraction—Sometimes the miles get tough, and we get in our own heads. The miles drag on, the hills seem never ending, and the urge to quit takes over. That little voice tells you to back off or cut your run short. Having the support of friends to talk to can distract you from the pain and make the miles go by faster. It may not make you faster, but it can certainly reduce your rate of perceived exertion. If you want to go far, certainly do it with friends. And from personal experience, when you have a friend to use all the bad words with, hills seem easier. 
  3. Emotional release—No topics seem off bounds with runners. We talk about injuries, chafing, poop, you name it. We talk about training, work struggles, and family issues. We tease each other and let off steam. Running itself has many emotional benefits, and combining that with someone to talk to can help relieve that pressure valve and improve cognitive function as well. An impromptu rock scramble mid-trail run and a finish up a steep hill can feel cathartic if there are others around to listen to your grumbling. It doesn’t hurt to stick your tongue out at the route setter when you top said hill either. 

Group running picture.
Post Big Rock scramble. I’m on the left. Said route setter from above is taking the picture.

Best Practices for Running with Friends During COVID-19

While large races and group runs probably aren’t the best idea yet, there’s nothing wrong with getting together as long as you follow some best practices:

  • Keep it small
  • Don’t share food or drink
  • No spitting or snot rockets
  • Keep your distance

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Commiserating after a hot run.

Even if you’re a dedicated solo runner, taking the time to run with another person or two will help you in more ways than you know. There even might be a post-run beer, ginger or otherwise, involved. What are your favorite things about running with others?

Racism and Running: Voices You Need to Hear

Since my last blog post, the world has erupted in response to the tragic death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis with Black Lives Matter protests in every state in the U.S. and in 18 other countries. I know this doesn’t directly seem running related but bear with me. After all, just recently Ahmaud Arbery was gunned down while out for a run. Black lives matter.

George Floyd
Ahmaud Arbery

In this internet age, information and other perspectives are at the literal tips of our fingers. As a white person, it’s my duty to educate myself on issues of systemic racism and racism in general rather than expect it to be explained to me by a BIPOC. It’s past time for others to do the work. Let me talk about what’s been going on where I am, and I promise I’ll get back to running by the end of this post. 

Note: There’s no way to briefly summarize all of the protests and demonstrations by a wide variety of groups in support of BLM in the past 10 days or so here, so I’m not going to even try. Use Google to see the day by day protest action.

In Louisville, Kentucky, protests against police brutality started on May 28th and originally focused on George Floyd as well as Breonna Taylor, a young woman who was shot in her apartment in Louisville on March 13th during a no-knock warrant. Their lives mattered. 

Justice for Breonna sign

Tragically, another name was added to the list here early in the morning on June 1st with the death of David McAtee, owner/operator of YaYa’s BBQ Shack and beloved by the community for his generosity and kindness. While on his business’ property preparing food, LMPD officers and National Guard shot him after breaking up a large gathering he was not a part of, another senseless death. His life mattered. 

David McAtee

Last night was the 11th straight day and night of protests and marches here. Both Breanna Taylor and David McAtee’s names, as well as George Floyd, have been shouted over and over. Jefferson Square has become a near constant protest site, lasting until after midnight each day and starting again the next morning. 

Right now, there is no end in sight as protestors are still marching for miles, almost 15 on the night of June 2nd alone, saying their names. The hot and humid days and even rain aren’t deterring protestors. More and more people get involved every day, bringing water and food, medical supplies, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, masks, and anything else needed.

Taylor and McAtee’s portraits have been painted and/or projected on buildings, and the University of Louisville honored Breanna Taylor, a healthcare worker with UofL Health, by announcing the Breonna Taylor Memorial Scholarship Fund in Nursing.

Projection of Jaylin Stewart’s “Say Her Name, See Her Face (Justice for Breonna Taylor)” on Metro Hall in Louisville, Kentucky on what would have been Taylor’s 27th birthday.
Mural of David McAtee at Fourth and Chestnut in Louisville, Kentucky.

Of course, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and David McAtee are sadly only four of so many, some whose names we do know and many we don’t, who have been victims of police brutality.

I don’t want to take too much space right now with my voice but did want to give a quick gloss of things in Louisville. Instead, I want to use my blog this week to promote other voices because Black lives matter.

Here is a list of some recent podcast episodes and articles to check out about diversity, race, and racism in the trail running world and beyond. 

Podcast Episodes

See four recent podcast episodes below on racism and diversity in running, particularly the trail and ultra running communities.

Ginger Runner Live #310 with Mirna Valerio

Ginger Runner Live #311 with Yassine Diboun
Southeastern Trail Runner Podcast #140
KoopCast #30

Articles

See the five articles below for points of view from BIPOC in the trail and ultra running community.

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Let’s work together to educate ourselves and help end systemic racism. Read, listen, watch, learn, talk to others with open minds, sign petitions, demonstrate, whatever you need to do to support BIPOC. Above all, and this is the most important, VOTE. You can’t change the system without changing the people within it. Put the work in.