Just keep running

I’ll be running my first 5K one week from today. I’m excited for the race and the milestone it represents for a former shy nerdy kid who never thought she could do anything physical, but as of today I was still huffing and puffing and half-walking my way to barely 4K. Japan being what it is, there will probably be a few octogenarians running, and if I’m lucky they won’t beat me too badly.

The thing is, I could totally have been kicking the 5K’s ass by now if I had just trained earlier and more consistently. This is kind of a theme in my life. I’m not used to working consistently for things over a period of time; I was always staying up late to finish papers in college and that sort of thing. I’ve gotten a lot better about this over the last couple of years, mostly thanks to the rigors of learning Japanese, for which there are no shortcuts (although that said, I’m taking the Japanese Language Proficiency Test in a month and have barely studied), but it’s still a particular weak point of mine.

The reason I’m talking about this in a blog about books and literature has to do with my reading stamina. Last year, in 2011, two of my friends and I challenged ourselves to read 50 books within the year. You can read about it at my old blog here. I was the only one to finish the challenge, although Matt came close with 46 books. I don’t know if I would have finished it otherwise, but I ragged on him so hard every time he talked about quitting that I knew I couldn’t quit myself, even though I was really behind by about November.

Anyway, this year I privately vowed to read at least 25 books, half the number I read last year, to give myself time to slow down and read some longer books. I haven’t been keeping great track of this (after reading some really excellent nonfiction at the beginning of the year, I went through a spate of chick lit consumption that I was too embarrassed to publicize on Goodreads), but I constantly feel like I’m not reading enough, so I was surprised to find out that I’m right on track. 50 books was a bit of a stretch, but 25 doesn’t seem to be enough, so I wonder if there’s some ideal number of books I can aim for to keep me reading. Or maybe my feelings of inadequacy stem from the fact that I’m adding books to my reading list far more quickly than I’m crossing them off; since May 1 I’ve added four books (Catfish and Mandala, The Unreal Life of Sergey Nabokov, Valencia, and The Collective) to my to-read list on Goodreads, and actually read one (The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest).

I guess this is just my public promise to get off my butt and read more. And I’m curious: Do you keep track of your reading? How many books do you read per year?

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3 thoughts on “Just keep running

  1. letizia says:

    I love the idea of choosing a set number of books to read in a set time. I’ve always been tempted to do a sort of book relay- where I would read whatever book or author was mentioned in one book, etc. and create an odd sort of narrative path. Good luck with your book-a-thon!

    • Elizabeth says:

      That sounds really interesting, but time-consuming! I think I actually found most of my books that way in high school, before I discovered book blogs. How the world has changed. 🙂

  2. […] Japan that I won’t be able to experience back home. Also, for what it’s worth, the 5k race went better than I could have hoped for—I ran the entire way and finished in 34:24! I’m […]

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