Adam Reger | Freelance Writer

Pittsburgh-based fiction writer

Marathon training begins

Speaking of marathon running (as a metaphor for writing), my training regimen for the 2011 Pittsburgh Marathon kicked off last Tuesday evening. I’m following this Runner’s World plan, which served me well last time. It’s still the “beginner’s” plan, but my intention is to replace the uphill runs (usually 4-milers that include a certain portion to be run uphill) with tempo runs (runs where you go at a faster-than-comfortable pace for a certain amount of time). My main concern is increasing my speed, not contending with hills (of which there are surprisingly few in the Pittsburgh course).

As I set out, only 12 miles into what will add up to around 300-400 miles of training runs (Oh God.), I’m optimistic about dropping my time by another 10+ minutes. I plan to cross-train more aggressively this time around. For a start, I expect to swim more consistently than during my Philadelphia marathon training, when I took it up more than halfway through my regimen. Perhaps more promisingly, I’ve enrolled in a cross-training program, offered by (apparently famous?) orthopedic surgeon Dr. Vonda Wright and sanctioned by the Pittsburgh Marathon. It begins next month, but I attended an orientation session that I found grueling even in its abbreviated form. The emphasis is on building the core muscles, strengthening both the abdominal and back muscles, and paying some attention to the arms as well. It should be a great addition to my training, not least of all because it’ll be an indoor workout during the worst of the Pittsburgh winter (which, so far, has been nasty).

More novel writing stuff

As mentioned previously, Cathy Day had some interesting and useful thoughts on novel writing versus short story writing in an essay at The Millions. Over at her blog, Cathy posts an “outtake” from that essay that concerns making the jump from writing stories to writing a novel. I don’t have anything considered to say about it, other than 1) to be excited to see someone linking to Nidus, the University of Pittsburgh’s defunct-and-all-but-forgotten online literary magazine (for which I was once a lowly fiction reader, and which is a kind of predecessor to Hot Metal Bridge); and 2) to be slightly amused at all the metaphors building up around the process of writing a novel: to the marathon running one, Cathy adds Dan Chaon’s architecture/dark field simile, plus E. L. Doctorow’s night driving comparison. I feel like a person can get lost within the walls of all these competing metaphors. Not that you’d ever lose sight of the fact, but as someone thinking a lot about the process of writing a novel, it’s good to remember that what writing a novel is like, exactly, is crafting a well-paced, dramatically satisfying long-form story that includes fully fleshed-out characters who change over the novel’s course, theme, conflict, and emotional resonance, all rendered in aesthetically pleasing prose.