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Wellness Wednesday - Cross Training (Planks + Literary Fiction)

In the monthly segment—part of my Wellness Wednesday series—I’m going to delve into something I don’t do enough of in either my reading and writing life or my running life.  You know what I’m talking about (hint: it’s in the post title).

Cross Training.

At this point in my running/marathon training life, I understand the importance of cross training.  In order to keep my body healthy enough to run long distances, I need to make sure I work on the surrounding muscles, the ones that don’t get as much love each week as my quadriceps or my calves.  The same goes for my writing (and reading) life.  If I only read one thing (such as post-apocalyptic young adult, maybe?), I won’t improve my craft.  So, once a month, I’m going to talk about the ways I cross train in both aspects of my life. 

Planks + Literary Fiction.

Plank: Where one balances on toes and either hands or forearms with the body in a straight line. Shoulders should be directly above hands or elbows, feet should be shoulder width apart. Hold until you’re shaking so bad that you can’t anymore (shouldn’t take long, if you’re doing it right).
Ignore the clutter behind me - that's my work space.

Ignore the clutter behind me - that's my work space.

Ahh, the plank—second to only the burpee on the list of things I hate doing in a workout.  But planks are effective, man.  If I do them every day (which I should but never do), I notice within a week that I can hold them for longer periods of time each day.  They engage the muscles of the core like few other exercises, and like most elements of cross training, are completely useless if you don’t have the proper form.  For me specifically, planks are important because I need to keep the muscles in my hips and core strong enough to protect my knees.  I would argue that anyone who runs can benefit from core strengthening workouts, though, and planks are a good place to start.

Literary Fiction: Generally pretentious prose that is both lyrical and annoying. Often written by graduates of MFA programs who only publish one book every five years. These books are usually advertised hard and have amazing covers (which is the only reason I buy them in the first place).
Two of the literary fiction books that I've read this year.

Two of the literary fiction books that I've read this year.

Have you noticed I’m making up my own definitions as I go?  Ha.

Like planks, literary fiction is pretty despised by me.  Why?  Honestly, I think it’s because it’s harder to read.  I don’t always hate it when I’m done reading it.  It’s one of those preconceived notion things.  I think something is going to suck, so I refrain from reading it (in this case) so that I don’t waste my own time.  That’s been changing this year.  I’m trying really hard to broaden my horizons, because I want my writing to improve.  And I mean, if I’m not going to study the writing of the MFA graduates from schools I could never get into, where will I learn?  In 2016, I read several works of literary fiction, and I didn’t hate any of them.  They took me longer to read, sure, but they were all really good.  I’d even wager that A Constellation of Vital Phenomena was one of the best books I read all year, in terms of quality of the writing and story.  But it was tough reading, and I’m sometimes too lazy to want to read something that isn’t going to be breezy for me.  I’m already learning that I have to, though.  I have to, if I want my writing to improve, if I want to write more books and find homes for the ones I already have.  Nothing can stay static, after all, including one’s own writing style.

How do you challenge yourself in your daily life?  Is there a way that you “cross train”? Let me know—I’m interested!

-A.

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