I’m not a big fan of running. I see people doing it in town and I see people doing it in the city, but I’m not doing it so I can’t really get into the fact they are doing it. Doing it all day long. Besides, the thought just makes my breath go. I lose breath easily when doing it. Running, I mean. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running may indeed be a personal journey of Haruki Murakami’s running adventures, but there is far more to it then putting on some shoes and going for a jog.
The book is a build up to a New York marathon in 2005. Murakami goes through his training and thoughts about this upcoming race, revealing why he runs and what he achieves from running. Taking the topic of running as the main piece, it is a rather exhausting read. But not in a bad way. You see, this book (this book works far better than repeating the long title or making it WITAWITAR) and Murakami’s efforts to convey the art of run pulls you in and makes you feel part of his race. As he gears up it is easy to tell he was trying his best and as the race nears I was giving him my all, despite the even having already taken place. It even makes me think maybe I should go for a run and see if I like it. Then I look outside and hear the wind.
It isn’t just the encouraging tale of his running exploits though. We get little bits of Murakami’s life and the best moments are when he opens up just a little bit so we can see the kind of guy he is. He doesn’t see himself as a super writer, he doesn’t come across pretentious. Instead he turns out to be a guy who stays healthy, wonders about most little details and enjoys listening to the Gorillaz. My kind of guy, but like he points out we probably wouldn’t get along all that well in reality. After starting to hitch a little of that fatigue from running with one author for so long without breaks, to get a look into his life gives me that extra kick of energy to read on. Running fan or not, this is one motivating piece of work.
Most importantly to me were the thoughts on writing. He goes through his motions, which are similar to his marathon training and how to keep writing, awakening hidden talent. I’d say I’m not a very bright person. My vocabulary is low, my social skills are poor and I don’t really know a whole lot about the world. Maybe if I was to be realistic I’d have no hope as a wannabe author, but he says that endurance is what the less talented must have. The ability to work harder than the geniuses, but at a steady pace to avoid burnout. Since reading I’m already slowly testing myself with a time/time system. Each day I will sit down to do a select amount of work based on time and as I get used to the initially low time I will up it slightly. Gradually training to endure and awaken hidden talent.
This book taught me and that makes it more than just a book to read and throw on the pile. As good as his stories, but with lasting effects. I hope Murakami enjoys many more years of running.