ASK Musings

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August 2023



What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Four Stars

Best for:
Runners looking for a meditation on running.

In a nutshell:
Author Murakami, better known by most for his novels, shares how running impacts his life.

Worth quoting:
“People sometimes sneer at those who run every day, claiming they’ll go to any length to live longer. But I don’t think that’s the reason most people run. Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest.”

“I’m often asked what I think about as I run. Usually the people who ask this have never run long distances themselves. I always ponder the question. What exactly do I think about when I’m running? I don’t have a clue.”

Why I chose it:
I’m a runner, and this book has come up a lot.

What it left me feeling:

This is my second running book I’ve read this year. As mentioned in my previous review, I’ve been running for many years – nearly 15 years at this point. Sometimes I’m running slow and easy, sometimes I’m pushing myself to build up some strength. On off days, I’m lifting and stretching and rolling. I’ve only taken a handful of breaks in those times – usually due to injury, and once because I just stopped, and that non-injury-related-break was definitely when I’ve felt at my lowest.

I don’t always love running, but I’m always happy that I ran, and I think Murakami captures this feeling. He says he runs to help him write. For me, I need to move regularly otherwise I am scattered and all over the place. Running helps me focus. Yes, it keeps me fit to a degree, but I think the impact on my mental health is more pronounced. And while I am active in other sports (specifically football / soccer), running is a constant for me.

Murakami focuses most of the book on a couple of seasons of running. He and I differ on our approaches – he trains by running every single day; I used to run every single day, but since I’ve gotten a running coach, it’s more like 4 times a week. He talks about runs that go well and runs that don’t. He talks about the feelings, the specific thoughts when he’s running races. He runs further than I do – he does marathons, I’m only doing half marathons – but both involve so much time alone, outside, in all kinds of weather. It’s solitary but not lonely.

One thing I especially related to was him talking about how, as he gets older, his body just doesn’t do things the same way. He’ll train the same or harder and struggle to complete races in times he previously hit with ease. At the moment I’m training in the hopes of once again running a sub-2 hour half marathon (something I have only done once out of 14 races, and about 10 years ago), but it’s hard. I’m not old, but I’m older, and things ache more. Injuries appear more often. I might reach my goal; I might not. But I’ll keep running.

Recommend to a Friend / Keep / Donate it / Toss it:
Recommend to a Friend

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